Tag Archives: Lyme

“Jump Back, Socrates”

“Jump Back, Socrates”

 Today’s Words of Wisdom: 

“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”

~Chinese Proverb

 Shhhhh. Okay, come in quietly. No sudden movements. Why? I just realized that I’m on a very precarious teeter-totter, and I must remain perfectly balanced. Or. Else. I. Will. Go. Boom. Just take a seat, nice and quietly, that’s it, roll heel to toe… wow, you do that so well. Were you in marching band? Oh, right, the teeter-totter. Well since you’re here and being so obliging and all, I guess I’d better explain.

I’ve just come upon a frighteningly deep discovery. Super existential. Insanely philosophical. And I wasn’t even wearing my what-does-it-all-mean fedora. (Very different from my fooled-you-into-thinking-I’m-a-hipster fedora.) GAH! Almost fell. Well, that’s what I get for segueing from my profound revelation to festive headwear. But I digress.

Okay, here it is. My discovery. My Luke-I-am-your-father of all plot twists. And I’ll tell you right now, I’m not entirely certain it’ll make any sense to anyone who isn’t in my head right now. But here goes.

I have gone my entire life thinking that if I can’t logically, verbally, succinctly describe and define who I am, than I must not know who I am. Now compound this by the fact that I’ve spent the past three plus years trying to discover and redefine who I am now since my life was turned upside down by Chronic Lyme Disease. So this is an equation I’ve been working on for over three years… balancing on this damn teeter-totter, trying to figure out where I need to land, how I need to look, to think, to act to make my life matter… and here’s the kicker: I’ve only just now realized that I’ve only been considering HALF of the equation! I’ve been super serious and all tense and focused on the brainy analytical side of it all, focusing on all these unanswered questions… without once considering that I have, perhaps, fundamentally, despite sickness or health, never changed at all.

I know. Jump back, Socrates.

Which means all these pressing questions? Are only there to satisfy the logic center in my brain. Not my spirit, soul, or any facet of my emotional being. Which means I’ve put all my eggs into the brainy puzzle-solving basket, and none into that place of knowing that has nothing to do with what’s in your noggin. I’m talking about intuition. The feminine energy we rarely acknowledge as valuable in today’s society. (The big brain gets all the attention these days. Spotlight Hog.)

Yes, what I do has changed. How I spend my time and days. My goals and outlook on life has adapted, sure. But I’ve been so preoccupied trying to discover who I should be in the midst of this debilitating illness (re: strong, inspirational, warrior woman) that I never stopped to think that just because my brain is telling me that since my circumstances have changed, (meaning I must, naturally, agonize over what this means for my life purpose) doesn’t mean that I don’t know myself. Step away from the spatula, baby! This hunk of clay is here to stay.

So, I guess you can move around now. Because I think I’m finally ready to get down off this tiny point I’ve been balancing on, trying to work out who I should be in light of all that’s happened in my life. Because what you do isn’t who you are. That’s backward. Who you are drives what you do, and how you do it. And what you are may not be definable. And what if the only one demanding you define it is YOURSELF?!!

Meaning me. I mean me. I’m the only one demanding I figure out the mathematical solvency for chronically thriving. Which means… I made my brain the boss. And ignored my gut. And now that I know I’ve been working for that incessant workaholic, I don’t have to devote every minute to appeasing it. And golly gosh darn, doesn’t that just sound like the most relaxing breath of fresh air I’ve ever heard.

After all… what if it just doesn’t have to be that hard?

Off-To-Enjoy-Newly-Mandated-No-Analysis-Hour,

The Foda

“Wampas and Probe Droids and Ferdinand, Oh My”

“Wampas and Probe Droids and Ferdinand, Oh My”

 Today’s Words of Widsom:

 “Everything you want is on the other side of fear”

~Jack Canfield

 The Foda’s Take: This quote makes me think of that awesome scene with Richard Gere as Lancelot in the movie “First Knight” where he defeats the formidable obstacle course that had- quite literally- given the old heave-ho to all who went before him. When asked how he accomplished it, he said it was because he wasn’t afraid to die. To which King Arthur replied: “A man who fears nothing is a man who loves nothing.” Soooo in conclusion… if you love something… today’s Words of Wisdom apply to you. BAM! Foda-ed. (Foda-ed! You know, like “Lawyered”… sigh. So not funny now that I’ve explained it. But to be truthful, you would have really needed to hear me say “Foda-ed” to get it right away… stupid inflectionless print!)

 Hello, friends! So, ever since I saw this quote a week ago, I haven’t been able to get it out of my wee little brain. Mainly because it is currently very relevant to my life. And it may be very relevant to yours. Living through an extended chronic illness, personal trauma, or intense struggle, changes you. It widens the world, banishing all perceptions of teenage invincibility or “that can’t happen to me.” It opens the door. (You know which door I’m talking about, people.) That  door. The one with the monster behind it. That’s right. The Wampa Snow Beast of Fear, all yowling and drooling scarily.

And it makes sense, doesn’t it, that you’d have more fear in your life. Something really bad has happened to you, and now you’re on edge- alert- your radar has suddenly been switched on. You’re like the Empire probe droids dropped on Hoth, scurrying around babbling nonsense as you search for signs of trouble.

Sidebar- anyone else like to try and mimic that monotone robotic dribble from time to time? Just for fun? No? Just me? Ah. Right. Moving on.

So, the point is, when you’re going through a lot, it’s a natural side effect that there will be more fear and more anxiety in your life. After all, you’re probably spending a huge amount of energy every day tamping down those pesky feelings that accompany whatever ails you. And it makes total sense that this wears your down, allowing fear to play a bigger role than it would if you were all fresh out of the bullpen.

Am now thinking of the book “Ferdinand.” Great book. But I digress.

But you’re not fresh out of the bullpen. You’re probably tired and worn down and now you’re scared- scared of what this is doing to your life, scared of how it’s effecting your loved ones, scared that it won’t be over soon. And by you, I do mean me… just to be clear…

So lately I’ve been coming back to this quote. Because I’m not going to stop the fear from coming. It’s a natural response to what’s happening in my body and my life right now. But somehow just recognizing it, remembering that there is a path past it… helps.

And I hope it helps you too.

<Empire Droid Babble>

The Foda

“Doers Gotta Do”

“Doers Gotta Do”

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

 “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

~Oscar Wilde

The Foda’s Take: I just adore Oscar Wilde’s witty ripostes. Don’t you?

 Hi folks! Sorry I haven’t been posting as much lately. I’ve been researching a side project and its pretty much consumed all my allotted writing time. So let’s just jump right in!

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been gnawing over something, all dog-with-a-bone like, trying to figure out the answer. What is it, you ask? Welp, let’s go back. It all started when I had a conversation about how “doers gotta do.” If you’re a doer, the way you feel proud, accomplished, needed, and valuable in the world is by, well, doing. I, my friends, am a doer. Only one small hiccup here, however… due to my current state of nasty neurological Lyme-i-ness, there is precious little I can, in point of fact… do….

Which, a wise lady pointed out to me, means that I really need to find a new way to feel proud, accomplished, needed, and valuable. Unless I want to continue to hold myself up to the standards of the woman I was several years ago when my life was, for all intents and purposes, normal. So the easy answer is: I’m accomplished, needed, and valuable just by being meeee!!!!!! ….But… “just sit and look pretty” is not a philosophy I subscribe to… and while I know everyone’s special just as they are, I also cater to the core belief that it’s what people do in this world that matters. And just being a good-hearted person from the confines of my home just doesn’t seem like enough…

Hence, the conundrum.

I get that I need to reconfigure my standards of awesomeness. I get that I can’t berate myself for not being able to “do” like I used to. I get that I must be okay with no longer having the capability to “prove myself” to the world… something ambitious, over-zealous me always felt like she had to do.

I think I have to go smaller. Like Ewok small. Notice the small things I can do, the ways I treat people, the connections I can make.

But it still doesn’t quite feel like enough.

I don’t really have an answer for you today. I wish I did. But maybe, just maybe, one of you out there in the Words of Wisdom universe has muddled through this conundrum before and has an answer or little nugget of wisdom for me.

If you do, I am all ears. Huge ones. Green. With hair. Like Yoda’s.

Thoughtfully yours,

The Foda

“Recycled Hope”

“Recycled Hope”

 Hi, everyone!

So, since the creation of this blog back in January, I have worked to use this site as a place of hope, mindfulness, and inspiration. But there’s only one problem with that. When times are rough- or in my case, rougher than the normal roughness that comes with a chronic illness, I find myself hesitant to post. Which is why I’ve gone from three solid posts per week down to one in the past several weeks. It’s not that I have nothing to say. It’s just that what I have to say is sad. And that’s not exactly inspirational, now, is it?

But it’s real. Right now I’m at a new bottom. I’ve gone from struggling to walk 5-10 minutes a day to struggling to walk to the bathroom. It’s hard to hold my arms up to type or eat, which is another reason why I haven’t been writing as much lately. This week I got a script from my doctor for a wheelchair and it’s likely I’ll be applying for a PICC line in the coming weeks. Holding up my head while sitting can feel like a herculean effort. I’m 29. I’m back to being a dependent. And this is really sad.

But I can’t omit this part anymore, or keep waiting to post when I feel better, because that would be like going on Facebook and seeing all the happy posts and smiling pictures, which make you think “man, they’ve got it all…” without remembering you’re only seeing what has been carefully selected for public consumption.

I started this blog because I wanted to be inspirational, and because I believe in finding strength and purpose through tribulation. Sadly, I’m not feelin’ the inspirational part yet. My story will be inspirational when I’m well, and I can say: this is how bad I got and look where I am today! Or when I can honestly say that I have complete faith and hope for the future, despite still being sick. But for now, I’m face down in the trenches. It’s ugly. It’s raw. It’s not fit for public consumption. But it’s also apparently not going away.

So, hi. How are you? My life is really tough right now. And that’s hard for me to say because I don’t want pity or a pep-talk or for one more well-meaning person to instruct me to “try to stay positive” if I’m honest about how bad things are. (I prefer “I’m here for you” or even the blunt “that really sucks.” “Try to stay positive” implies I haven’t been working my keister off doing just that.) Still, I’m hanging on by my fingertips, knowing that someday this will all be worth it, when I can assure someone else just like me that there is hope.

So in the meantime, I’m living on recycled hope. It’s been so long since I’ve seen any proof, any sign that I’ll get better, that my hope has gotten stretched pretty thin. I’ve been using the same batch for so long, its potency is starting to diminish. Have you ever felt like that?

Sidebar- It is odd I just imagined a wide cartoon ribbon of rosy hope popping up before me and cheering : “Go Green!” with a big thumbs up? 

Yes. Yes it is.

Off to Stare at My Cat until He Does Something Adorable,

The Foda

P.S. He’s sleeping. Damn, that’s cute.

“The Choice”

“The Choice”

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart… Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

~Carl Jung

 The Foda’s Take: I have a feeling that Carl Jung is also a pretty big believer in mindfulness.

 Hi, everyone! So last week, Mandalf and I celebrated our three year wedding anniversary. This gave me a day where I could flip through old pictures, relive the most beautiful day of my life, and remember the moment we danced hand-in-hand into the reception as man and wife- to- I kid you not- the bombastic Star Wars theme. (Come on. With a handle like the Female Yoda, did you really think I wouldn’t marry a fellow Star Wars lover?) Yes, the wedding party proceeded us by boogying down to the Cantina Song. And yes, it was AWESOME. And no, I didn’t have my parents/in-laws come in to the Darth Vader theme song… although I’m pretty sure it was discussed… all in good fun, of course… But I digress.

Now, when you’re dealing with a chronic illness, special occasions can sometimes be tough- you know how you’d want to celebrate, but sometimes what you want and what you’ve got to work with just aren’t in the same realm. For example, Mandalf asked me what I wanted to do- and what I wanted to do was hop on a plane and spend the day drinking margaritas and eating shrimp tacos on a beach in San Diego. But considering my current capabilities? Not an option.

So the night before, knowing I didn’t want to spend our special day being sad that I couldn’t celebrate it the way I would have if I was healthy, I made a choice. I could either focus on all the things I had and could do, or on the one thing I didn’t have and wanted more than anything. I chose to focus on what I could do. And it was a wonderful day.

So often, when we have something that we want so incredibly desperately, it’s easy to feel like nothing else will make us happy until we get it. And I fall into this trap a lot. So I get it. But over the past several days, I’ve been struck by just how much energy goes into moping and pining after something out of your control. And considering how I have a very limited amount of energy to begin with, shouldn’t I be spending it on things that can make me happy right now? Consequently, the past several days have been some of the most productive I’ve had in a while. (Closing in on finishing draft three of my fantasy novel! Woohoo!)

I know special occasions are going to continue to be bittersweet while my life is in this holding pattern. I get that. But I’m starting to really believe that you can still move forward while your life stays “stuck.”

Cheers,

The Foda

It Is Easy Being Green: Alima Pure Makeup

It Is Easy Being Green: Alima Pure Makeup

 Howdy Folks! So, I promised I was going to start a Green Living segment, and here it is! Every now and again I’ll take a break from exploring smiling through the chartreuse cast of the Lyme-light and instead focus on what so many of us who battle chronic illnesses strive to do- live Greener, leaner, and meaner. Okay, not meaner. Although for those of us who made the choice to give up gluten, dairy, and sugar in a bid to rid our bodies of any excess inflammation, that first 2-4 weeks may have come with an extra side of screaming… Amazing how much one misses cookies and pizza once one cannot ingest them… But one may digress.

So today’s Green Living topic is… drumroll please… all natural makeup featuring my favorite safe, non-toxic brand: Alima Pure! Fun fact for you party people: Did you know…

(Pssst. Hey. Hey, you. If you want to keep wearing your designer/drugstore makeup, you may not want to hear this “fun” fact. Because it may ruin you on “conventional” makeup for life. Still with me? Still curious? Okay, you asked for it!)

Did you know that it only takes around 23 seconds for something you put on your skin to pass through to your bloodstream? 23 seconds!!! That means, ladies, essentially, that unless you would take a big spoonful of your fancy foundation or moisturizer and swallow it down the ol’ pie hole, it should not be going on your skin. Because your skin is a ravenous, porous monster ready to eat everything it should come in contact with like a crazed Rancor!

Freaked out? Hey, I warned you! Solution? Alima Pure Makeup. I’ve tried countless “green” brands (many of which said they were natural, many of which were still laden with toxic chemicals) and this one is by far my favorite. Over the past year, I’ve switched out my entire makeup bag, and the Alima Pure line has replaced 98% of my old staples. Their products are safe, highly pigmented, long lasting, AND they let you buy samples so you can have total confidence in what you buy. (Prepare to have your mind blown- they have over 60 mineral foundation shades to choose from! Whaaattt???!!!!) Pretty sure color selection won’t be an issue.

But the best part? Is that every day when I glide, tap, and swirl their soft, rich, natural products onto my face, I know my b-e-a-u-tifulness doesn’t come with a toxic price.  (Sidebar: I have absolutely no affiliation with this brand, no one is paying me to say this. I just luuuuurrrveeee them. Ahem. In a respectable, decent, totally nonchalant manner.)

So this concludes my first Green Living segment! If you’d like more info on this brand, check them out here, comment down below, or tweet me @TheFemaleYoda and let me know what you’re interested in hearing more about. Welcome to the wonderful world of Green!

Huzzah!

The Foda

“Tale as Old as Lyme”

“Tale as Old as Lyme”

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

“If a problem can’t be solved within the frame it was conceived, the solution lies in reframing the problem.”

~Brian McGreevy, Hemlock Grove 

 The Foda’s Take: Amen, McGreevy. A. Men.

 Howdy, folks! I hope you all had a great Independence Day weekend! My fabulous mother, Professor Momgonagall, was born on July 4th, so it was a dual celebration for us. (I know! Fireworks every year on your birthday! How cool is that!)

Anywho, it’s been a really rough stretch of days, and it’s been extra challenging for me to find ways to tap into the hope maven I so aspire to be. I’m sure, dear reader, you’ve had times like this- times when if you hear one more well-meaning person say “When God closes a door…” or “This too shall pass…” you kinda wanna throw a Death Star sized cream pie in that person’s face. Well, that’s been me. And my silvery lining just hasn’t been so easy to find these days. So, of course, after a few days of Woe is me I had to find a way to re-frame my situation to make it more palatable. And today, I found it!

Now, I don’t think I ever told you this, but my childhood dream was to be on Broadway. And as of seventh grade, my ultimate dream was to be Belle in Beauty and the Beast; the most magical show I’ve ever seen. So today I was humming the overture in my head, and I remembered how once in the castle, Belle could only see the outside world through using that magic mirror the Beast has. And I was like- that’s me! My connection to “normal” life outside my house is currently pretty exclusively seen through “mirrors” such as Mandalf, social media, etc. And while you may be thumbing your nose at me, asking in a snooty voice why in the world I found this helpful, all I can say is that re-framing my horribly difficult situation through a favorite childhood story really helps. Also, I have brown hair and I look really great in blue. So, there’s that.

I can’t change how fast I heal, and I can’t see the future. I also can’t just sit back and wait for this Lyme to go away, because it’s already been years, and I will not let this disease win by stripping me of any happiness or purpose I can achieve right now. So, like I said in my previous post, all I really have to work with is my imagination. And right now, it is way better to think of myself like Belle trapped in an enchanted castle than as me trapped in a broken body.

Sidebar:Yes, I hear how crazy this may sound. Yes, I am comparing my life to a Disney character’s. But since I’ve seen a zillion quizzes titled “What _____ Would You Be?” floating around Facebook lately, I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one who likes to compare herself to fictional characters. In. Your. Face. Ha! 

So this fine Sunday, I ask you- what difficult situation in your life would you like to re-frame? How could you look at it to make it just a bit more fun or bearable? After all, who says make-believe is just for children? And to that point- aren’t children usually happier than adults? See where I’m going with this?

Off to See if my Spoons and Candlesticks Will Sing for Me,

The Bellisima Foda

Grace Under Fire

“Grace Under Fire”

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

“All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.”

~Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor

 The Foda’s Take: Oh, we want it, alright. Everyone wants to be the person who rises above adversity admirably. But in typical form, grace is not easily won or obtained. Tricky little wench.

 Hi, folks. Today I’m feeling very existential. You know, pondering what does it all mean while lounging about in my silk robe and velvet smoking slippers, a monocle dripping from my fingers. And I have decided something. I believe that the antithesis to achieving grace and positivity invariably comes down to two common rascals: doubt and frustration. Shall I go on? Here’s my thesis.

The trouble with hope is it doesn’t come with an expiration date. Hope + time = doubt.

The trouble with faith is timely proof. Faith + no proof =  doubt and frustration.

The trouble with control is not having it. Control + lack thereof = frustration… and doubt.

But the trouble with doubt and frustration is that if they’re not countered by hope, faith, and relinquishment of control, they will take over, until nothing is left but darkness. And no one wants to live in the dark. Unless you’re a vampire. But I’m not certain how large my vampire audience is for this blog, so I’m going to assume we’re all daylighters here….

Now why am I going so deeply into this, you ask? Because I don’t have an ending to my story yet. At least, not one I’m willing to accept. I’m still waiting in the wings, listening carefully for my name to be called so that I can step into the lime light (and out of the lyme light.) It might be easier for me to wallow in frustration and doubt until my time comes, because all that requires is living in another moment- which is pretty easy to do. What’s hard is living in our current moment. What’s hard is finding hope and inspiration in turmoil. What’s hard is choosing grace under fire. Because grace is not easily won. It’s hard and, as Flannery O’Connor said, it requires the beholder to go through great pain and suffering in order to achieve it. We all want to live with grace, we just don’t want to go through the horrible trials we’ll need to endure to get it. Unless, well, you’re a masochist… in which case, I have several pairs of high heels in my closet for you.

I work every day to live through my trial with grace. I don’t always succeed. It’s not always easy to feel hopeful and confident that my happy ending is coming when I’ve been sick for so long. But anyone who stands up and tells you they’re one hundred percent “glass half full” is lying. (That’s right, sir- calling you out.) Faith and hope take work. They take daily dedication. But I have a dream, you see…. I’d like to believe that when all this is past me and I’m able to rejoin the human race as a healthy, vibrant woman, I will have achieved so much wisdom and grace under fire, that it will shape not only my life, but inspire the lives of others as well. I want people to come up to me and say: “It takes a lot of grace to do what you did!” And I’ll shrug humbly, wave my hand dismissively, and say: “Psshhh, Grace is my middle name.” Which… in point of fact, it is… so there’s that… pretty sure that doesn’t count, though…..

So today, I rededicate my commitment to finding and living with grace. (Besides, well, in my monogram….) Which, come to think of it, means I’m going to have to learn how to better define it so that I will know it when I see it. Hmm. What do you think? As I close, I’d like to ask you, dear reader- how to you define grace?

Gracefully yours,

The Foda

The Winding Road

“The Winding Road”

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

“All’s well that ends well.”

~William Shakespeare

 The Foda’s Take: I said this exact quote to a nice customer service woman the other day after being mistakenly charged overnight shipping for a delivery. I didn’t mind- she naturally refunded the faulty amount, so in my mind, no harm, no foul. But she still apologized profusely, to which I said, “all’s well that ends well!” She seemed shocked I wasn’t mad. But living with Lyme tends to put small problems into perspective, wouldn’t you agree?

 Hey folks! So I was taking my short daily walk with my husband Mandalf the other day, and, as sometimes happens to people like me with dysautonomia, I started to get dizzy. So instead of focusing on the end point, I looked down at the pavement, choosing instead to only concentrate a few feet in front of me. And although it didn’t take the dizziness away, it did help me finish my walk. And that got me thinking. “Eureka! There’s a metaphor here!” <And yes, when I said Eureka, I did picture putting on a safari hat and ascot whilst puffing on a large mahogany pipe.> Sidebar- that image was completely character-related, totally not advocating smoking. (Kids! Don’t puff that stuff!)  But I digress.

In life, we always want to know how things end. It’s what hooks us into reading books through the wee hours of the morning or not wanting to miss one episode of our favorite TV show. It’s also what gives us a lot of anxiety when a difficult situation arises and we yearn to know how it’s going to turn out so that we can move on already!!! If we didn’t work this way, no one would have ever invented the magic 8 ball, am I right? But I’m beginning to wonder if not being able to see farther than what’s right in front of us is actually a good thing? After all, if I had known three years ago I’d still be sick today, I don’t know if I’d have had as much gumption and tenacity right out of the gate. So maybe the reason why we can’t see the whole road in front of us is because it would be too overwhelming if we immediately saw just how far we have to go?

When I was a runner, I loved going on long runs, always through winding neighborhoods, because the change of scenery was nice. (Treadmills make me feel like a hamster on a wheel. And plus winding roads remind me of those swirly straws I used to drink chocolate milk through as a kid. Wee!) But when I’d get to a long straightaway and realize just how long it would take me to get to the end of it, my head would start playing tricks on me. That doubtful voice would creep in, reminding me of how tired I was, or how far it was, or that my troublesome knee was already starting to twinge and would it be smarter to just stop? I didn’t have these issues on winding roads. Why? Because since what I could see was so slight, A to B felt like an easily-attainable goal, and my competitive side kicked in. But when I could see the long road stretched out straight before me? That’s when I felt overwhelmed, and had to fight with my mind to keep going.

Living with chronic illness is a winding road. We never know what the next turn is going to bring. And this can be frustrating and scary, and I usually loathe it. But I have to wonder- if we saw it all mapped out in front of us in one straight line- would it be so overwhelming we’d wind up simply treading water out of sheer exhaustion? Like when your to-do list is a mile long and you wind up wasting more time freaking out over how much there is to do instead of just getting started? Is our lack of transparency maybe the lesser of two evils? And if so, perhaps the real challenge is to stop trying to see the future and just work on the next step.

Just something to mull over while you search for that swirly straw you have buried in the back of your cupboard. You know you want it. And you are welcome. 

Until next time,

The Foda