Why We All Need Vitamin R

It’s a cold Sunday morning here in Texas. I am alone in the house, and it is quiet except for the wind. I am sitting here enjoying my coffee and trying to tackle my overflowing To Do list that has gotten a wee bit out of control this week. Too many unchecked items!! The last several days at work have been crazy and my evenings have been filled with functions and fund-raisers. I haven’t had quiet time like this in quite some time it seems.

I have had this particular blog post on my list to write for months now. Yes, months. But how do I write about doing something I myself am not always able to do? And that is to make sure I am getting a healthy dose of Vitamin R. Continue reading “Why We All Need Vitamin R”

Top 10 Things I Learned from Living with Fibromyalgia

I didn’t choose a life with fibromyalgia, it chose me. Many days I wish I was my old self, pain-free and full of energy. Yet, until a cure is found, this me has been the norm for close to 20 years now. I have learned to cope and live, and even thrive.

Scott Hamilton said, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.”

And so I want to share my top 10 lessons from life as a fibro warrior.

Continue reading “Top 10 Things I Learned from Living with Fibromyalgia”

10 Things to Inspire You This Month

img_4419

Since the subtitle of my blog is “Finding Inspiration in Everyday Life” I decided it was fine time to start a regular series on the topic. So welcome to the first edition for March, 2018.

  1. I have to give a shout out to Dr. Andrea Dinardo for her blog post about her recent TEDTalk on Thriving Under Pressure. Watching that on Sunday night as I mentally prepared for the week ahead sparked some creative ideas, and I started my week inspired and focused on what’s right.
  2. Read this story in the Washington Post about 7 Marathons, 7 Days, 7 Continents and One Man with Parkinson’s: Can he make it? and you’ll think twice about complaining about a few aches and pains. Bret Parker should inspire us all. I participated in the Breast Cancer Three Day Walk about 8 years ago. 60 miles over 3 days. As someone with fibromyalgia, that was the most physically challenging thing I have ever done – close to two and a half marathons spread over three days. I. Can’t. Even. Imagine. 7 marathons. 7 days. 7 continents.
  3. There’s an app for that. This teenager worried about walking alone, so she created an app. And then she won the Congressional App Challenge in Virginia’s 10th District. I work in the tech industry and I love seeing young women use technology to solve every day problems.
  4. I enjoy watching Shark Tank and all of the interesting inventors and businessmen and women trying to jump their business to the next level. I remember the pitch back in 2013 for “Doorbot” that didn’t get the offer he was looking for. Well “Doorbot” became “Ring” and was just purchased by Amazon. Even though the deal could be close to $1 Billion, Mark Cuban says he’d pass on it again. It was good enough for Jeff Bezos though. Just proof that you should never stop believing in yourself and do not give up on your dreams!
  5. Normally churches collect tithes from their parishioners, but this local church turned the tables over the weekend, encouraging the congregation to pay it forward and giving them the means to do so.
  6. Sports fan or not, watch this story of selflessness because Life is Bigger than Basketball.
  7. Looking for more ways to incorporate exercise into your busy life? Or perhaps you need some gentle moves that you can do while in the midst of a “fibro flare” or some similar physical condition. Check out these YouTube videos from Robin of The Balanced Life, who believes in “grace over guilt.” I just finished her 10 day Mind Body Pilates challenge and love that I can get in a quick 10-15 minute workout when I am pressed for time!
  8. Some days I just cannot bear to listen to the news on my daily commute. But I do start every day reading The Skimm so I know what’s going on. It’s a fun, quick read format. Check it out here. Sign up here. Hey, it’s good enough for Oprah and SJP!
  9. Every once in awhile I like to rewatch this TEDTalk from Steve Jobs on How to Live Before You Die. Hear how a calligraphy class inspired some of the features we now depend on in our every day life, how rejection helped in Jobs’ success, and his take on life’s great change agent – death. Three quick stories from his life urging us all to pursue our dreams, follow our hearts, and love what we do.
  10. And finally here’s a link to a downloadable printable with some motivational cards to put in your planner, use as a bookmark, or just leave in front of your computer to remind you how awesome you are!

I hope you enjoyed these articles, stories, and videos and that I have inspired you just a little. Let me know what inspires you, and perhaps I will share it in an upcoming edition.

“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” – Steve Jobs

Cheers!

Cynthia

 

It Begins with Sleep

I have taken a very deliberate break from blogging and social media lately, as the demands of my day job have been consuming my time and energy. And much like others at the beginning of every new year, I have been trying to lose a few stubborn pounds that have crept on. I already have a pretty healthy diet and exercise program, so I decided reducing stress and getting some extra sleep might just be the two missing factors. And when your schedule is already overflowing and you need some extra Zzzzs, something has to give – for me that was writing and browsing social media.

But, with Sleep Awareness Week around the corner it was time to write a new post….

It Begins with Sleep

If “cotton is the fabric of our lives”, sleep should be considered the fabric of bodies and minds, weaving together all of the ingredients to help us reach our goals. Sleep allows us to recharge, makes us less hungry, makes us more focused and productive, and keeps us happier and less stressed. For more about the benefits of sleep, visit here.

The word I am focusing on this year is Deliberate, so that included being more deliberate and intentional about getting a restful night sleep. I have some links below to past blog posts describing what I do to unwind at bedtime and prepare myself for bed and sleep. These days, even that takes preparation.

Sleep and Electronics

It seems that while most people know these things, not everyone is listening. People use their smartphones as alarm clocks – so the device is usually just an arm’s reach away from the bed. Tempting to reach for it when we hear the buzz or ding of some email or post! While it’s best to keep your smartphone in another room altogether, if you’re going to use is as an alarm clock, use these other features too:

  • Use the “Do Not Disturb” feature so that you’re not being bombarded with alerts all night.
  • Make sure the display is off to avoid “blue light” emissions that suppress melatonin.
  • Use a sleep timer and play some soothing sounds or music to help you fall asleep.
  • Keep it far enough away that it’s not easy to reach for – and definitely don’t sleep with it under your pillow!

Sleep and Children/Teens

The actual Sleep Awareness Week this year (March 11-17th) happens to coincide with “Spring Break” around here in Texas. I find this funny, since teens see Spring Break as a time to abandon their normal sleeping routines and bedtimes, preferring to stay up late binge watching Netflix, playing video games, or Snap chatting with friends. All of this extra electronic stimuli wreaks havoc on their ability to disengage their brains for some good quality sleep. And we all know that teens rarely want to listen to the advice of their parents when it comes to bedtime, but getting quality sleep and having a regular routine can help anyone better manage stress and maintain healthy habits during the day.

I find it disturbing that I opened my Target ad today to find a sale on “sleep aids, sleep vitamins, or energy supplements” and one of the items depicted was “Children’s Sleep with Melatonin” that promotes restful sleep. As a society have we become so addicted to our “always on, always connected” mentality that we now have to give our children aids for sleeping? We would rather reach for a pill than change our habits to adopt healthy life style changes. That is definitely not me. I will do anything first before reaching for a pill, save for the few vitamins I take.

Sleep and Fibromyalgia

As someone who has suffered from fibromyalgia for almost 20 years now, I know the double-edged sword this condition creates. Lack of sleep exacerbates the pain and daytime fatigue, and the pain makes sleeping at night difficult. Then you add to that the OTC or prescription medication used to help one sleep, and that can add to the daytime drowsiness and hungover feeling. Although I still usually sleep about 6 hours during the week and 7-8 hours on the weekend, my goal is for quality, uninterrupted sleep to help me recharge. And that comes from good bedtime habits.

Links

Here are some links to additional reading and past blogs about getting better sleep:

References:

My Past Blog Posts About My Sleep Strategies:

Begin with the End in Mind

When doing any sort of strategic planning session, I always “begin with the end in mind.” So when we are thinking ahead to the next day of our busy lives, we should think about getting a good nights sleep, design what we think that looks like, and then plan for that in our schedule as well. Remember, it begins with sleep.

Do you have any tips for better quality sleep? What are your bedtime routines?

Cheers!

Cynthia

Click here to learn more about Sleep Awareness Week 2018

4 Tips for Avoiding a Holiday Fibro Flare

“The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings.”

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays upon us, it’s best to plan ahead to try to avoid a flare rather than recover from one. Between visiting family and friends, shopping, and cooking, who has time right now to deal with the pain and exhaustion of fibromyalgia? Not me, that’s for sure! Who’s with me?

Here are my top tips for avoiding a flare during the holidays:

  1. Get your Zzzz’s. Yes, it’s tempting to stay up and visit, or get up early to get that turkey in the oven, but don’t sacrifice your sleep to do so. Your best offense is to get maintain your schedule and get those 7-9 hours of sleep! Your body will thank you.
  2. Take care of yourself. Hosting the family get-together? It’s OK to ask for help. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Make it a pot luck. Or cater in part of the meal. I like to set the table and prepare desserts and part of the meal the night before so I am not overdoing it on the day of the big event! Consider buying some fancy paper plates instead of using the good china. And when the kitchen is clean and the guests are gone, try a relaxing bath before bed. 🙂
  3. Eat properly. Yes, it’s the holidays. We are all going to indulge a little. But try the three bite rule when it comes to dessert or your major weaknesses: take just 3 bites of that pie or casserole. It allows you to sample and enjoy, but not overdo it. Chew slowly and pause between bites.  Avoid gluten, dairy, sugar, or those foods that you know trigger your flares (Fibromyalgia, migraines, and IBS can all be triggered by food).
  4. Exercise. Taking even 10 minutes for some Pilates, yoga, or a walk after that big meal will help keep everything in check. Here are some yoga moves to try to keep your digestion working properly.

I love the holidays: the food, the parties, visiting family. But I don’t love being curled up in bed because I overdid it. I prefer to enjoy my family time and count my blessings. I can skip that pecan pie if it means I won’t be in bed the next day.

“The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better for those around us.” 

– Terri Marshall

Avoiding disaster is far better than recovering from it, and just a few simple steps can help you enjoy your holidays, so you’re not missing out on all of the fun!


Do you have other tips for avoiding a holiday flare?

Cheers!

Cynthia

Self-Care Self-Check

“Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation.”

Back in January I wrote about the importance of self-care and some things I vowed to work on myself. As May is Fibromyalgia Awareness month, I decided it was time to check in and see just how good or bad I am doing on my own self-care. Practice what you preach, and all. I have found more success following strategies for healthy living, than I ever did taking a pill that the doctors prescribed. So taking care of myself has to be my number one priority, in order to minimize my fibro-flares. You cannot, after all, drink from an empty cup, and having a flare can often feel like you are running on empty.Cannotdrink

Here’s what I wanted to improve on: Continue reading “Self-Care Self-Check”

Lavender Lullabies

Lavender is an herb that is both beautiful and beneficial.

As November is Sleep Comfort Month, I thought I would write one more post about sleep. I have written about my fibromyalgia and difficulties sleeping (here and here). I have various sleep strategies I use, including using lavender oil or spray. So recently at lunch with a few girlfriends, one of them mentioned she hadn’t slept through the night since March due to various things going on in her life (stress!). Someone said, “Have you tried Ambien?” It’s really a shame that some people think first about a prescription medication to mask the problem, rather than trying easy at-home strategies first. I mentioned Lavender, Melatonin and Valerian root to her as a natural alternatives to try, but my favorite is still lavender.

bee-and-lavender-with-quote-marion-mccristall
Picture from Quotesgram.com

Continue reading “Lavender Lullabies”