Odds and Ends

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image: Sally King Benedict

1. I faked a whole bunch of people out on Instagram this week. Heh.

2. I’ve always been a fairly healthy eater, but this past year I had to adopt a much stricter diet. It’s not as strict as Paleo, but not as lenient as just Gluten Free alone. Let’s call it Glaleo. Did I mention no alcohol? Pretty much very minimal sugar and dairy too. (Thank the heavens for Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips.)  The best part? I started this diet the day before Thanksgiving, and was forced to stare at a plate of turkey and lettuce while everyone else chowed down. It was so depressing.

But! Never fear! My outlook improved shortly after that, and I actually love the way I eat now. However, for those of you who make similar eating choices, you know how easily you can fall down the rabbit hole of “clean eating.” That’s why this article called The Tragedy of the Healthy Eater is the funniest thing I’ve ever read. Oh, how I’ve been there a few times.

3. Speaking of clean eating, this family cut out all sugar for an entire year. I bet you can guess what happened. (It’s true! And once you stop eating sugar, you don’t crave it all. Except maybe 2-3 days before your period, when you might find me crying on the couch with a spoonful of peanut butter sprinkled with the above-mentioned chocolate chips.)

4. My friend Amber wrote a gorgeous post for all of us. You should definitely read – what a great way to go into the weekend.

Starting right now and every Friday forward, I am going to list 5 things that happened to me during the week that I’m grateful for. (I spent a long time trying to fix that preposition fail, but I’m moving on and never looking back.)

Without further ado, my Friday Five.

1. Wita is quite the little performer, as many of you have witnessed on Instagram. She just sings and dances with such conviction, you all. Surprise surprise, her favorite song is “Story of My Life” by One Direction, and when she belts it out in the car, her sweet little voice just melts my heart. I love it so much.

2. These gloves. One of the medication side effects I’m dealing with right now is extreme sun sensitivity, which I thought meant to stay out of the sun as much as possible. However, it actually means if my skin is in any sort of sunlight for more than 2 minutes, I’m blistered toast. And once you burn, you burn. My poor hands just won’t seem to heal. As you can imagine, driving my children around all day in the Southern California sun has made things very difficult for me. Even my darkly-tinted windows don’t help at all. To make a long story short, it started to seem like my sole purpose in life was to chase the shadows on my steering wheel. Thank goodness for Sundriven – the gloves are lightweight, completely protective, and pretty dang cute.  I wear them day in and day out, and although I have the gray ones, I think the coral shade is calling my name too. Thank you, Sundriven!

3. A new yoga therapy class at my studio. I’m telling you, locals – if you have injuries or limitations or are just looking for a gentle yoga class, you should join me. I’m so glad Ekam Yoga added it to their roster, and I hope they keep it around! How many of you are on the restorative yoga bandwagon? So so good.

4. I’ve become obsessed with hummingbirds lately, and the cutest little bugger has been whizzing around my backyard this week. I think he knows he makes me happy. And I think I shall name him Ralph.

5. Last but certainly not least, all the love and support you all sent me throughout the week. I can’t thank you enough.

Feel free to leave your own snippet of gratitude from the week. There’s just something about putting it into words that works. Happy weekend!



COMMENTS (18)

Thank You

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I’ve said it here, and I’ve said it there, but I want to say it one more time. Thank you for all of your incredible messages of support and love this week. I feel it. I actually, physically feel your love and light in my body. (It’s like a constant internal humming vibration, just in case you were wondering. For reals.)

I know it’s lengthy, but the following passage hits it out of the park for me. When I received my diagnosis last September, this book was the first book I picked up, and I really believe Dr. Rankin’s words set me on my path. She opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking, and I am forever grateful. So, enjoy. Or don’t. I’m flexible. I’ll be back with a makeup tutorial or something equally easy breezy in a jiffy.

Dear Human,

I hate to break it to you, but you are not in control of your life. This is not meant to frighten you. On the contrary, it’s meant to liberate you. Do not worry. You’re not at the mercy of a random, chaotic universe flouncing you around like a yo-yo on a string. This is not a dangerous world always threatening to hurt you. No, dear. You live in a purposeful universe, in which every moment is infused with meaning and richness. You may not understand the meaning right away. You may feel victimized. Life might seem unfair. But when you look back, you will see that it all makes sense, that even times of tragedy were filled with purpose, that your soul grew even as you grieved.

I know you yearn for certainty. You want guarantees. You long for forever. But you forget that by guarding against uncertainty, you close yourself off to possibility. When you don’t know what the future holds, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. This invites mystery. Awe and wonder might be yours. Within the uncertainty lies potential.

Yet it also holds the threat of loss, and this is why you fear it. I know you think you can’t handle losing what you cherish, so you cling to the illusion of control. But the reality is that life is impermanent. Even this very moment will be gone one second from now. Yet loss need not be something to resist or fear. Fearing loss only wastes your energy, because you can’t prevent it, no matter how much you cling. While nobody wants to lose that which you hold dear, if you shift your perspective, you’ll see that loss can initiate you. It can separate your life into two parts- life before the loss; life after. When you let loss initiate you, it strengthens you. Your soul walks through a doorway, and the doorway is one way. When loss initiates you, what you gain is permanent.

I know it feels safer to try to control your life. Of course you cherish that which you love. You crave stability, security, and certainty. You long to protect what you don’t want to lose. You grasp it with both hands and pull it to your chest. But what you grasp is made of sand. It slips through your fingers no matter how you grip it.

I understand that this thought is intolerable. You think you can’t handle losing what matters to you. But you sell yourself short, dear human. You’ve forgotten your capacity for infinite change. The way you cling to the illusion of certainty limits you. You stagnate. You resist change, and yet change is inevitable. How do you expect to be happy when you’re always resisting what is? Why can’t you just be with what is? Accept what is happening right now. Accept what happened in the past. Accept that you can’t predict or control the future. Accept this moment and pay no attention to any other moment other than RIGHT NOW. In this moment, you will find peace.

As long as you need certainty, you won’t take risks, and joy requires risk. You have to risk your heart. You must risk loss. Because you are human, you’ll be asked to stand in a rush of love so potent that you can barely breath; yet, in that moment, you will be crushed with how vulnerable you are, because nothing you can do will guarantee that you can keep that which leaves you so vulnerable. To stand there and experience love that deeply without pushing it away or grasping it to you is WHY YOU ARE HERE. To learn to be that vulnerable, that brave, to leave your heart that open is the ultimate life test. This test is pass/fail. You can’t do it halfway. The minute you armor against that vulnerability, you lose the joy. It’s your choice- your path to follow. Nobody will judge you either way. No one cares whether you pass or fail the test. You have free will, and just like the birds don’t mind and the forest doesn’t judge, you can do as you please.

But as a doctor who has been at the bedside of a lot of dying people, I can vouch for the fact that the dying rarely regret not having enough control over their lives. They regret that they didn’t risk more. They regret not loving enough and not opening their hearts all the way so that love spills out like a broken coconut. They regret love unspoken, ways in which they held back, the armor they wore in order to protect themselves from the vulnerability of love. They regret failing to forgive those who hurt them. They regret not making compassion their #1 value. And in those final moments, when they feel the pain of how much their desire for control led them to sacrifice the opportunity to truly love, they find that the person who needs the most compassion is themselves.

Dear human, don’t be one of those people who dies with regret. It’s not too late. There’s still time. It’s your choice. Instead, you can be one of those people who dies with a wide open heart, with no love left unexpressed, with a heart fully spent from loving expansively, with a litany of people who will be initiated by the loss of you. You can be God consciousness in human form and love all the way, all the time. Your heart is this capacious. Why don’t you know this about yourself, darling? You bumble around, thinking you’re the one human who’s heart isn’t big enough to love like this. But it is. I promise. You have no idea how massively you can love.

I know life is hard. Life hurts. You’ve suffered deeply. You’ve lost so much already. You can wallow in the pain, or you can shift everything in an instant. Today can be the first day of the rest of your life. We are boundless beings, connected to each other, infused with spirit, bonded by the suffering we all share, and liberated by the choice we can make, right here, right now, to wake up from the illusion that we must control life.

Take forth these 4 truths and allow them to free you:

1. It’s not a dangerous world. You live in a purposeful universe.

2. Uncertainty is not something to resist; it’s the gateway to possibility.

3. Loss is a natural part of life and can initiate you.

4. We are all ONE, and you are never alone.

So go forth, dear human, and fear not. You are loved. You are enough. And finally, in this present moment, you are FREE.

image: Jules Olitski



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Going Forward

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If you even knew how long I’ve been dragging my feet in regards to this post, you all. It’s been sitting in my draft folder, title only, for months. It’s just so hard to write about, you know,  LIFE. (It’s so much easier to do a silk blouse roundup!) I’ve hemmed and I’ve hawed, dissected the pros and cons, and it really just comes down to this. I’m a blogger. I’ve been doing this for almost NINE years – it’s a part of me, and although I still keep the majority of my life private, my struggles over the past year have become a catalyst for the direction this blog is headed. Although my health struggles are specific to me, the thoughts and feelings and experiences I’ve dealt with during this period are universal. We all hit bumps in the road – trauma, illness, divorce, death of loved ones, anxiety, depression, I mean, the list goes on and on, right? We’ve all been in the depths at some point, some of us early on, and some of us lucky enough to sail calm waters for decades before the proverbial shit hits the fan. (That was me. I made it 38 years, folks! Cue fanfare!)

Before I delve in, I want you to know that I recently updated my About page. (This is my way of telling you that if you want the Cliffs notes version, head over there immediately. Retreat! Turn around while you can!) So I was poking around my site last week, and re-read my ‘about’ blurb for the first time in quite awhile. I was kind of stunned – “who is this person I’m reading about?,” I thought to myself. Certainly not the person I am today – I mean, sure that was me, and lots of facets remain, but my how things have changed.

I have so much that I’d like to share with you in regards to the changes I’ve made in my lifestyle over the past year – my diet, my health, my way of thinking about myself and the world we live in, my meditation practices…the list goes on and on. But before I begin that journey with you all (because sharing what I’ve learned is why I have a blog), I know I need to explain how this all came to be. The fact is, the blogs that I turn to for inspiration and support are the ones in which the bloggers have shared their struggles. The vulnerability I’ve witnessed from many bloggers makes my heart simultaneously break and soar, because I know they’ve been there too. They have felt the hopelessness and the disconnect and the suffocating fear. My point is, I guess, is that a pinnable image of the 5 best ways to meditate is helpful and all, but if I don’t feel a connection to the person who created it (and their struggles), it loses some of its power.  How can I expect you to relate to future posts on holistic and wholehearted living if you don’t know my personal story? So here goes.

Around the start of 2013, I started experiencing quite bothersome pelvic and tailbone pain. It was nonstop, very distracting, and nothing seemed to help. Over the course of a couple of months, I visited doctor after doctor, specialist after specialist, and tried all sorts of holistic stuff and acupuncture, but nothing seemed to help. In fact, the more stressed and obsessed I became in regards to trying to find a solution to the pain, the worse the pain got. (Hmm…hindsight is always 20/20, right?) Suddenly I had become trapped in my own fearful thinking, and anxiety reared its ugly head something fierce. “What if I feel like this forever? What if something is really, really wrong with me? What if I can’t take care of my kids? Why can’t I find a solution?? What if this is FOREVER?!” You guys, this was a constant mental loop in my head. I couldn’t focus on ANYTHING but the pain, which, in turn, made the pain worse.

By the Spring, I had regularly visited a pelvic pain therapist (who, if you are in Southern California, is absolutely amazing), and things were much better. In regards to the pain, that is. My anxiety had catapulted me into what I can only call a hyper-fearful state. Everything around me scared me to death. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t travel. (I canceled several fun trips that I had looked forward to for months.) I needed my husband to be around me at all times, and if he had to leave town, my mom would fly to California to stay with me. My chest felt like it had a 80lb weight on it at all times, and my hands shook constantly. Just driving my kids to school took everything out of me. I was so anxious that I couldn’t even stick to a plan – I would second-guess myself on every single decision ranging from the kids’ school lunches to my next course of therapy. What if what if what if.

I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I wasn’t in physical pain any longer, but the anxiety was crippling. And being an extremely solution-oriented person, I couldn’t figure out why I just couldn’t figure out how to help myself. I mean, for 38 years, I had solved all of my problems on my own. Why couldn’t I stop this? Why couldn’t I control this? (Lesson from the Universe #1 – you can’t control everything. Stop trying.)

And then I stopped sleeping. I didn’t sleep for more than 2-3 hours a night during the summer of 2013. For months, you guys. I would pass out from exhaustion at 4am, only to wake up at 6:30am when the kids woke for the day. This went on for months, despite reading every. single. book on insomnia, taking supplements up the yin yang, guided meditation, you name it, I did it. No sleep until Brooklyn. My physician at the time suggested taking the very lowest dose of Xanax occasionally to help me sleep – in fact, I remember her saying, “Sarah, you are the only person in Orange County that I have to BEG to take a Xanax.” Ha. But once again, I was in such a panic mode that I feared EVERYTHING – even a tiny dose of a drug that might help me drift off to sleep. BUT WHAT IF I BECOME AN ADDICT!?  AND THEN WHAT HAPPENS? (Nothing happened, by the way. I took the lowest dose intermittently for a month or two that summer and it helped tremendously. And look at me! Fully functioning adult who is not living in a box in an alley. Imagine that.)

Except that once I started sleeping again, my body just collapsed from the weight of the months of anxiety, and I slipped into a deep depression. I would like to take this moment to publicly apologize to anyone and everyone out there dealing with depression. Because, for 38 years, I had no IDEA what you were dealing with. In fact, I cringe even typing this, but I remember saying to my husband a few years back, “I just don’t understand these people with depression. I mean, can’t they just make a choice to be happy? Is it that hard, really?” Annnnnd then it happened to me. (Lesson from the Universe #2 – until you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, shut your mouth.) This post by my friend Gabrielle of Design Mom resonates with me so deeply, and really speaks to the way I felt during those late summer months.

At the end of the summer, I was in a really strange state. Mentally and physically exhausted, I decided to fly to Oklahoma with the kids to visit my family for a week. I needed to be around my family. I remember just trying to keep it together, which usually resulted in fits of sobbing while my baffled parents tried to console me. What had happened to this positive, capable, I-can-do-it-all woman? The one that laughed in the face of adversity, and always at herself? She certainly wasn’t around. (Lesson from the Universe #3 – your positive, radiant being is ALWAYS within you. That light never extinguishes – sometimes it’s faint, but it’s always there. I promise.)

I flew back home after a week, and felt really weird. Like, super dizzy and flu-like, and I just didn’t know what was going on. (Again.) I figured it was just a result of my immune system being worn down, and tried to press on. However, I noticed a red, circular rash on the side of my chest that was growing in size, and when I asked my physician about it, she said it was nothing and handed me a steroid cream. (She is no longer my physician.) Luckily, I also had an appointment with my naturopath that week (she was helping me with the sleep/anxiety issues), and when I offhandedly asked her to take a look at the rash, she suggested running a few tests. I didn’t really think twice about it.

A week later, I got a call from my naturopath and she informed me that I had tested positive for Lyme Disease. I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a joke. After this year from hell? I got bit by a tick in Oklahoma and now had Lyme? (Lesson from the Universe #4 – Whatever you’re dealing with right now? It might seem to be the worst thing…it might seem that you’ll never get your head above water, but things could be worse. You must focus on all the positives of the HERE and NOW because celebrating those positives will put you on the path to healing.) I hoped the traditional short course of antibiotics would do it’s thing, but I still felt really off afterward. I chalked it up to my year of crap, and tried to move on for the next few months, but it became increasingly clear that something wasn’t right. Thus began my foray into this very misunderstood disease. You guys, at first, in true Sarah fashion, I went to the end of the internet and back (NOT RECOMMENDED, PEEPS), and oh man, did the fear take over! But you know what? It also really put things in perspective for me. (Lesson from the Universe #5 – Googling your health is just plain stupid. And not helpful. And did I mention stupid?)

Fast forward to today. I’ve been undergoing treatment for Lyme on-and-off for the past 7 months.  I don’t want to delve too much into the details of my personal experience, because that’s not what this post is about, really. Plus, it’s baffling how many people will say things like, “Oh, I knew a girl and it WRECKED her life” or “my uncle just died from complications of that” to my face. Well, thank you! So, essentially, yes, I understand what can happen. I’ve done an enormous amount of research on the subject, and while yes, it can be a devastating disease, I am happy to say that after seeing some of the best Lyme specialists up and down the West coast, I am in incredibly capable hands and am getting better with a combination of Western, Eastern, and Energy medicine.

But, you guys, here’s the deal. Lyme was just the catalyst that finally woke me up. It could have been anything, really. It forced me to look at my life, and come to terms with the fact that I was allowing fear to run it!

Right now, I am in a pretty intense part of treatment, and man, I wouldn’t call it enjoyable, but I am forging ahead with a huge grin on my face. (Most of the time.) I love my life. Really. It’s taken a year to get to this place and it was NOT easy, but I am so grateful that I am here. Do you know how wonderful it is that we are here? On this earth with people who love us unconditionally and people we can love in return? Suffering sucks, my friends, but this is it. THIS IS IT. Our one chance to make it count. To love and be loved. To release the past and stop fretting about the future. You have to make the most of today. This moment. (Indeed, all the cliched sayings are true.) Yes, I have Lyme, and some days it takes everything to get myself out of bed, but I do it. Because I have a great life! The joy my children give me on a daily basis brings tears to my eyes. I love my husband. I love my work. I love my family and friends. I love you guys – seriously, the support I have received from you all over the years makes me so grateful. I am so very blessed.

You know, before I started this post, I wasn’t sure if I was just going to dive into my Lyme diagnosis or tell the story of what happened in the year leading up to it. The reason I did write about the pelvic pain and the resulting anxiety and depression is two-fold. First off, because it’s important for me to look back and remember that while I was in the dredges of the pain, sleeplessness, and anxiety, I felt so hopeless. I thought for sure that was the way it was always going to be. Forever. But it’s not. I have no pelvic pain anymore. I sleep like a baby the majority of the time. My intense anxiety has quieted. My mind is calm. And I know with every fiber in my being that the same thing will happen in regards to my current symptoms. Nothing is forever. Secondly, I want you to know that too. Whatever battle you are fighting right now, be it a broken heart, a sick child, cancer, a past trauma replaying in your head, depression, it won’t be like this forever. You will get better. And you will be such a better person because of it.

YOU WILL GET BETTER. AND YOU WILL BE A BETTER PERSON BECAUSE OF IT. I PROMISE YOU.

Now. I hope you don’t think this was some clear cut revelation that came to me immediately upon finding out about my illness. Hahaaaa. Couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s been messy. Really messy. I’ve had more days full of self-pity, insecurity, fear and doubt than I care to admit, but I feel a major shift happening. (Perhaps why I feel comfortable writing about this now.) I have learned so much through the trial and error of trying new things, looking deeeep within, and opening my mind to the infinite possibilities of the energy surrounding us and within us. You guys, I’ve tried some really interesting stuff. And I realize all of it, whether or not I thought it was completely whackadoodle at time, is a part of my overall journey. It’s a lifelong one, but am so excited to be squarely on the path.

So, are you still around? Thanks for trudging through all of that. I feel a sense of relief, though. I’m glad you know. And now if I occasionally post some meditations or energy exercises or general thoughts on taking care of our body and soul in addition to the regular fodder, you’ll know where it’s coming from.

“There is nothing in life that could happen to you that is worse than living in fear and self-hate. And the great sadness is that living in fear and self-hate won’t keep what you fear and hate from happening to you. The only difference between the life you are living and the life you want to live is the feeling of being appreciated, loved, and accepted. Unconditionally. So…give it to yourself RIGHT NOW. This is it.”    — Cheri Huber

image: Lyozin Michael



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Lovely Spring Dresses for Little Girls

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First off, I just have to tell you that I posted Odds and Ends on Wednesday because I thought it was Friday. I THOUGHT IT WAS FRIDAY UNTIL 5:19PM ON WEDNESDAY. Hold me. Moving on!

Oh, my friends. I have found the holy grail of adorable dresses for little ones! (I’d like that blue Ikat one for myself, thank you.) Have you seen Tucker + Tate? I discovered this brand at Nordstrom, and the dresses are perfection. Best of all? They are $34 – hello, DEAL. Check them out – just click on each dress for more info.



COMMENTS (4)