Going Forward


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 its 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 more health crap. 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 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. I am happy to say that after seeing some of the best 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. The physical discomfort 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, my body feels like it’s giving me the finger, 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 health issues 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.


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

  1. Luisa

    April 7, 2014 at 6:25 am

    Oh man, what a journey you have been on. I am so glad you’re on the path to feeling and getting better. xo

  2. J.Mill

    April 7, 2014 at 6:49 am

    I have been encouraged by your journey. Thanks for being real!

  3. Jamie

    April 7, 2014 at 6:53 am

    Sarah you are amazing no matter the diagnosis or obstacle. I’m hugely relieved that you got the answer on what it is and can be open-minded enough to accept the situation and respond with positivity and proactivity. Keep on trudging, sister! We all love you and support you – sending healing energy and light from Chicago!

  4. Becky

    April 7, 2014 at 7:06 am

    Wow. What a journey. I’m so glad you’re on your way to feelng better. And I’m grateful you shared with all of us. Stories like this help others to be brave, to have hope, and to keep searching for the rainbow after the storm. Having dealt with my own auto-immune disease (ulcerative colitis) for most of my adult life, I can most definitely relate. Hugs to you. And thanks.

    • whoorl

      April 7, 2014 at 9:17 am

      Becky, I’ve learned so much about auto-immune disease during this period, and I just want to say that I understand what you are going through. I truly believe that true hope in our hearts is what heals us. I hope you continue to forge on with positivity and radiance! You’ve got this! xoxo

      • Kristi

        April 8, 2014 at 7:55 am

        THANK YOU for feeling brave enough to post. I’m thinking about you and I know you will continue to be your cheerful self and overcome this and beat it. (Whether it’s just beating your feelings or the disease… same thing!) I have an auto-immune disease (Crohn’s) and yep, sometimes it kicks your butt. Good luck to you!

  5. jen

    April 7, 2014 at 7:10 am

    Thank you so much for sharing all this Sarah. I’ve been going through my own difficult journey the last several years and it is so encouraging to read your words and be reminded that this isn’t forever and to try to stay positive. So glad you’re finding answers and help.

  6. Roxanna (miguelina)

    April 7, 2014 at 7:12 am

    Big hugs to you, from your sister in woo-woo. I am happy to see you coming back, stronger than ever. XO

  7. Meredith

    April 7, 2014 at 7:14 am

    I can’t imagine the strength it took to write this post, but thank you for doing it. Thank you, thank you.

  8. Meghan @ Life Refocused

    April 7, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your story. I agree wholeheartedly that we connect to people’s honesty and struggle, not just the shiny-happy-good stuff. So thank you for the authenticity. And for reminding all of us that we ALL struggle. And that we do come through the other side. So glad you have, too.

  9. Jen

    April 7, 2014 at 7:21 am

    Sarah. !! I am so sorry that things were such CRAP for you, holy moly. And I am so happy to hear that things are moving toward Better. Day at a time. xoxo

  10. Amanda

    April 7, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Thank you so much for sharing. Truly. I know how hard it is to be so open even with people you know and love in real life, so to open up to us, the internet, that takes a lot of guts. I think of you as a person who has her shit together and while it’s obvious you do, it’s also obvious you don’t all. the. time. We’re all human and some things are universal. Thank you for the reminder that nothing lasts forever and things will get better.

  11. Lindsay

    April 7, 2014 at 7:48 am

    That was so great! I’ve been suffering from anxiety/depression lately because of an illness, and I feel like I’m finally getting to the stage where I’m OK with the life (diagnosis) I’ve been given, because it could be way worse. Awesome post! :)

    • whoorl

      April 7, 2014 at 9:20 am

      Yes! That’s huge, Lindsay! *fist bump*

  12. AlisonC

    April 7, 2014 at 7:59 am

    I am sorry that you have had such a tough year but glad to hear that things are getting better.

  13. brie

    April 7, 2014 at 8:17 am

    being open can do crazy great things! xo

  14. Emily

    April 7, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Sarah! Thanks so much for sharing. I’ve caught on to the hints you have been dropping along the way. I’ve been VERY interested in what has been going on with you because it seemed so similar to what has happened to me in the past few years. Just change Lyme disease to Multiple Sclerosis and trade in the insomnia for leaving an abusive church situation, quitting my job, and moving to a new state with my husband’s new career.

    IN FACT, I just wrote a very similar post on my new blog,
    about getting diagnosed with MS and what it has meant in my life so far. I, too, was reluctant to post it.

    So I’m here with you! And I too am willing to discuss The Untethered Soul and the benefits of long bangs v. no bangs. Or trade notes on kids (mine are 7 and 4!). Or dancing. We also really really love to dance.

    Thank you! You blog has been one of my inspirations!

    • whoorl

      April 7, 2014 at 9:29 am

      Emily, I just want to say that you are a flipping rockstar – your post had me nodding the entire time. MS and Lyme (and most auto-immune diseases, really) are similar in that nothing is black and white. And BOY, can that be hard, right? Not knowing what’s going to happen? I very well may have Lyme indefinitely, and the fear of that unknown had me in its grips something fierce, but I had a choice. To succumb to that fear or tell the fear to FUCK OFF. (Excuse the language.) I chose the latter, although it’s a daily challenge.

      I just want to say I am so proud of you, and it sounds like you are doing great. You are an inspiration to me!

  15. Maggie Mason

    April 7, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Man, you -never- know what’s going on with people. I’m sorry about the diagnosis (so scary), but glad that you’re genuinely doing everything you can for yourself. I like you, whether you’re feeling sunny or not. I’m hoping good things for you.