About Wendy

I'm taking a journey learning to live a mindful and happy life, while living with Chronic Illnesses. I'm a bit of an idealist. I want everyone to be happy and think everyone should want the same for others. I don’t understand mean people. I cry easily and laugh often. I love cartoons, Dr. Who, and my wonderful husband...not in that order!

Mindfulness Monday – Eating

fruits and veggies

“Food reveals our connection with the earth.
Each bite contains the life of the sun and the earth…..
We can see and taste the whole universe in a piece of bread!
Contemplating our food for a few seconds before eating,
and eating in mindfulness,
can bring us to much happiness.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

 

“Mindful eating is about awareness.
When you eat mindfully,
you slow down,
pay attention to the food you’re eating,
and savor every bite.”

~ Susan Albers

 

“Mindful eating is a way
to become reacquainted
with the guidance of
our internal nutritionist.”

~ Jan Chozen Bays

 

** be sure to check out my upcoming post on Mindful Eating.  I’m working on it and hope it will be out in a couple of days.

 

*photo taken by W. Holcombe, please do not copy without permission.

 

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A day of trials

 

caring hands

Yesterday was filled with the trials associated with migraines and slow vertigo.

I barely got out of my chair today, and that’s okay.  I spent the day focusing on self care, taking it slow, and not beating myself up because I couldn’t go to PT, or do any of my exercises.  Luckily, hubby worked from home today, so he was here to help me any time I needed to navigate the world around me, like…umm….going to the bathroom.  My walker is great, but it doesn’t make me feel as safe as he does.  (if I really start to fall, the walker just comes with me, hubby holds on tight….I wish everyone had someone like my Stuart in their lives)
How do you handle a day of trials?

 

*image by W. Holcombe, please do not use without permission.

Mindfulness Monday – Resolutions

20171228_171025.jpg

“I will breathe.
I think of solutions.
I will not let my worry control me.
I will not let my stress level breatk me.
I will simply breathe and it will
be okay because I don’t quit.”

~ Shayne McClendon

 

 

“Just slow down
Slow down your speech
Slow down your breathing.
Slow down your walking.
Slow down your eating.
And let that slower, steadier
pace perfume your mind.
Just slow down…”

~ Doko

 

*image by W. Holcombe, please do not copy without permission.  all rights reserved.

I did this!! A reflective look at 2017

2017 collage

January is the time that people make resolutions to do things differently (better) than the year before.  My theme for this past year was “Just Stop”  (just click here and you can read that post), I will continue to “Just Stop” in 2018 and beyond, but for now I want to look back.

This year, I’ve decided not to make resolutions, sure there are things I want to change, things I plan on doing, things I want to do….The whole Bucket List, you know, however, there is something we often don’t do, we don’t look back and see what we have accomplished.  I think we need to do that more often.

When we get sick we often look back on our “old life” and can’t see how much we’ve accomplished since we got sick.  We keep thinking about how we can’t do what we used to, I see so many people with chronic illnesses doing amazing things every day, but they can’t see it.  They keep looking back at what they used to be….never forget, you are still the same person.  The old self and the new self is the same self.  Let’s put those together and be okay with it.  (yes I know that isn’t easy, even when you feel you have gotten to that point, there will still be times when you think about the “old me” longingly)

So I decided to sit back and look at 2017, and just think about what I accomplished, and I was pretty amazed at what I found.

  • I worked hard and lost 45 pounds.  Cool.
  • I started exercising.  Just little things, but it’s a whole lot more than it used to be and I’m getting stronger so I can do more.
  • I overcame some pretty severe side effects to a medication.
  • I worked with my doctor and found the right medication, I didn’t give up.
  • I survived breaking my foot while alone.  I simply iced it, propped it up and waited until Stuart got home to take me to Urgent Care.  I didn’t panic.  yay.
  • I reached out to the local Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) chapter and I’m meeting new people through it.
  • I participated in the HLAA Walk4Hearing.   How cool is that?  okay, so I wasn’t able to actually “walk” that day, but I raised money and I went out there and showed support.  and I got a t-shirt to prove it!
  • We had visits from 4 groups of out of town guests this year, and I handled it all well.  (that doesn’t mean it wasn’t challenging, but my guests know my limitations and love me anyway, so it was easier)  I haven’t had guest come to my house in a very long time!
  • We went out of town to see the eclipse!  That was so cool; a little mini vacation centered around a most amazing event.  (and I made a new friend there too)
  • I went to an out of town wedding for the daughter of my best friend from the first grade.  I felt beautiful (that isn’t something I’ve been able to say in a long time).  I had a wonderful time, and I saw people I haven’t seen in 40+ years, that’s amazing.  (and now I’m in touch with another grade school friend who is just the sweetest lady, I just love her.)
  • I’ve had less vertigo this year.  Actually, I do have vertigo often, but it doesn’t last long and I’m not completely incapacitated for hours and hours….um..days.  I don’t know how much control I actually had over this, but it’s a huge deal for me.  (I’m actually thinking something I’ve been doing may have helped, but I’m not sure)
  • I made some new online friends, and have gotten closer to some old ones.
  • I went to a Christmas party where I knew no one.  (the HLAA Christmas party)  I arrived right when the party was ending (yes I read the invitation wrong, I thought it started at 7pm but that was the end time!  hahaha)  I still met some awfully nice people. (I knew these people would understand if I couldn’t hear them.  I exchanged many emails with the chapter leader beforehand and she made me feel most welcome and understood my fears)
  • I went to a family Christmas party at my cousin’s house.  I haven’t been to a family holiday gathering in something like 20 years.  I was very nervous, but it went well.  I met some wonderful people who were so supportive of my hearing loss, they even practiced sign language with me, I didn’t feel left out, it was nice; and I look forward to nurturing that friendship.
  • After going to those two parties (and the wedding in October and the Eclipse in August), I realized I can do this!!  I can socialize again.  No, I might not hear everything, I might have to ask people to repeat themselves, to look at me when they talk, and I might have vertigo…..but it really feels good to know I can do this!!  That knowledge is a huge accomplishment.
  • I searched out and found supplements to help with my conditions.  Not a lot, but some that have made a little bit of a difference.  I feel more empowered the more I learn about my conditions and the more I am able to help myself.
  • I have been home alone often and I didn’t die.  Okay that may be a bit melodramatic, but Stuart used to have to work at home almost every day, now he goes into the office.  Some days I do need him to come home to help me, but I do not need him to be physically with me all the time.  awesome.
  • I baked during the holidays!!!!  I haven’t been able to do that in YEARS!  and I love doing it, so this was amazing for me!!
  • I enjoyed the holidays.  I know that’s not much of an accomplishment, but the holidays can be hard, and have been at times very hard.  This year I sang carols for over a month!  I shouted “Merry Christmas”  to a Santa that was waving outside of a store and it was joyous when Stuart told me that “Merry Christmas”  was shouted back.  (I felt like I was in a Christmas movie)
  • Most recently I’ve begun to “paint” using the AutoDesk Sketchbook app, and I’m creating some pretty nice pet portraits.  I’m pretty happy about that.
  • I started Loom Knitting this year!  I’ve made a number of blankets, scarves, and the coolest pair of socks ever!
  • one more – I only had 2 or 3 (I think) seizures this year.  (if you don’t know about me and seizures you can read about it here: Psychogenic Seizures…)  How cool is that?  Yep, therapy works when you work hard.

Now, I challenge you to sit back, take a relaxing breath, and think back over the year and only think about things you have accomplished (or some wonderful things that happened).  There were a lot of things that went wrong this year (like the awful medication side effects, and watching our country fall apart….)  but it really doesn’t do me any good to think about that stuff.  Look at all the things I did!!  That is worth a reflective look at 2017.

(about the photo above: From left to right starting with the top left:
Me and Kim, me and Lisa, Walk4Hearing t-shirt
Baked Christmas Goodies, silly Christmas light necklace, me in Santa hat
Stuart modeling the cool socks I made, a portrait of Max, Me at the wedding)

I’m on Instagram now!  (Not as Picnic with Ants, just as me)  If you’d like to check it out, I’m wendy.holcombe

Mindfulness Monday – New Year

Happy New Year copy2

 

“She made a revolutionary idea:
She would make more time for
life’s truly important things

First on the list:
breathing.”

~ Amy Rubin Flett

 

“You are never too old to
set another goal
or to dream a new
Dream.”

~ Aristotle

 

*artwork by W. Holcombe, Please do not use without permission.

Some things are hard to talk about. Pocrescophobia

I’ve been struggling with something for a while and I’m not actually sure I feel comfortable talking about it, but there may be someone else out there struggling with the same thing who needs to know they aren’t alone.   I have an intense fear of gaining weight.

*****this post talks about eating disorders, this may be a trigger for some of you, please take care of yourself and read (or not) accordingly*********

As many of you may know, I lost 45 pounds in 2017.  This is something I have been trying to do for a long time.  I gained a lot of weight when I first got sick, on top of losing my independence, suddenly my body no longer felt like mine.  I weighed 225 pounds at my heaviest, and I didn’t recognize myself.  (I’m barely 5’5″ tall)  A few years ago I found out that I have Fructose Malabsorption and went on the appropriate diet to help with that, and at that time I lost 45 pounds, and kept it off.  However, I was not happy with my weight.  I was still overweight and it ate at my self esteem.  I tried and tried to lose weight over the last few years, but it just didn’t come off.  I had my yearly physical last year on December 30th, and at that time I weighed 182 pounds.  I was determined to lose weight, but I really wasn’t sure I could do it, and I was ashamed that I hadn’t been able to do it before.  Then I was put on a medication for my migraines that reduced my appetite.  Suddenly I was able eat much less and not feel hungry.  (Normally I feel hungry often.)  I lost weight, it came off slowly, but it steadily came off.  By the time I had my yearly physical last month I weighed 140 pounds.  (140 lbs at the doctor’s office, at home I weighed 135lbs)  The medication stopped curbing my appetite, now I’m fighting hard not to gain all that weight back.  I was able to bake for the holidays this year for the first time in many years, but I didn’t just bake, I ate, and I have been terrified that I’m going to gain….and gain…and gain, yet I can’t seem to stop eating.  I’ve gained about 5 pounds.  I know how quickly those 5 pounds could turn into 80+ pounds, and I’m desperate to not let that happen.  So many people will say that 5 pounds is nothing when you gain weight, they tell you not to worry about it, it’s really not that much, but those same people will tell you how great it is when you lose 5 pounds, how that’s a lot of weight to loose….  How can both of these be true?

When I lost the weight this year I found myself in love with my body for the first time since I can remember, if I ever felt that way at all.  I accepted that this body was not as I wished it would be.  Let’s face it, a 54 year old’s skin doesn’t really shrink back when you lose weight, but I was happy with what I saw, I loved all of me, saggy skin, cellulite, and all.  However, even though I felt that way, I was still terrified of gaining the weight back.  At one point, I went to the grocery store and started to buy some gluten free flat bread to make a pizza with, when I saw the amount of calories it had per serving I broke down in tears.  I was paralyzed with fear.  I simply stood there and cried.

Now, I see myself as fat.  I can see that I’ve lost weight, but I also see where I’ve gained some, and how much more I need to lose.  (10 pounds seems to be as hard to lose as 50)  I see photos of me and I think I look pretty good, then I look in the mirror and know that isn’t true; it takes a lot of effort to look good for the photos, on a day to day basis, I don’t look like that.  I look down at my body when I’m sitting in the living room and I’m appalled by the rolls of fat on my stomach, the bulges I feel under my arms, (back fat is not attractive), and the drooping of my breast.

I feel better since I’ve lost the weight.  I can get up from the floor easily.  I can walk further than before.  I go out with more confidence (most days).  I love wearing smaller sizes.  I think I look good…..sometimes.  Other times…well I covered that haven’t I?

I’m scared.  I’m terrified of gaining weight.  This is an intense fear, yet I can’t seem to stop eating.  I’m hungry all the time.  I’ve had a love/hate relationship with food for a very long time, my whole life really, I don’t want to go into detail about my past, but I need to let you know this isn’t the first time I’ve struggled.  Now it is even more confusing.  My weight seems to always be in a state of flux.  Since I was able to keep most of the 45 pounds I lost, I was encouraged that I would be able to this time, I’m afraid that isn’t the case.  I’m afraid I will need to track every thing I eat to make sure I don’t over eat or under eat.  I’m afraid I’ll need to exercise as much as possible in order to keep the weight off, but that is physically impossible because of my health, and I hate myself because of it.  I’m afraid I’ll fail and the weight will come back.

I’ve been trying hard to not eat as much, and to eat nutritionally dense foods; this hasn’t happened, instead I’ve been going overboard on sweets and cereal, and I beat myself up over it.  The guilt and fear is so great that I have tried many times to make myself throw up. (I can put my finger all the way down my throat and not throw up.)  If I could just get it out when I eat too much, I know I would feel better, I would be back in control.  No, it wouldn’t take away the guilt (I’m sure it would cause more guilt), but the fear is stronger than the guilt.  I’ve exercised to the point of absolute exhaustion (not regularly).  I have taken laxatives when I feel I’ve over eaten (not often, but I have).  I suffer from chronic constipation and get obsessed with how much that makes me weigh (how much extra weight is in me), laxatives help.  I try hard not to have them in the house, so I won’t abuse them.  I’ve actually been happy when I’ve had intestinal distress, because it’s a sure way to lose weight.  I’ve wanted surgery to make me look better.  These actions and thoughts scare me.

I will work on these things.  I may go back into therapy, but first I am going to try to deal with it on my own.  As many of you know I can’t drive because of the sudden attacks of vertigo I have, this makes it very difficult to get to therapy sessions.  Stuart has to juggle his work schedule to drive me places so we try to keep my appointments to one a week, two at the most; if I have therapy every week how can I go to any other appointments?  I just want to handle this by myself if possible.

I don’t think I have a full fledged eating disorder, yet.  I do not avoid meals.  I eat when I’m hungry, even if I feel I shouldn’t be hungry.  I have not been tracking every calorie I put in my mouth. However, I do plan to, to make sure I’m not over or under eating, and I will admit, to loose a few pounds.  I’m not avoiding foods, I do plan to cut sugar out of my diet for a while, but that’s not a bad thing, right?).  I normally do not eat so much that others would find it unusual. (however, I feel it is)  I do not purge, but I do admit, sometimes I would if I could.  I have a lot of fears and I can see that my actions have been changing because of these fears.

I have Pocrescophobia (the fear of gaining weight); I know this fear could lead to serious health issues, I know it is causing extreme anxiety for me, and I know it is hurting the people who care about me.  I will get a handle on it, if I can’t do it alone, I will start seeing a therapist and talk to my doctor.  (I promise)  Right now, I’m simply trying to be open and honest about this.  I’m asking you to not judge, or worry about me, I simply ask you to be witness to my fear and support me while I deal with this.

I do wonder how many people who have a chronic illness struggle with these feelings.

For further information, or help, I’ve listed a few organizations that deal with eating disorders:

 

3 Inspirational Christmas Quotes on Mindfulness Monday

christmas-tree color

 

“My idea of Christmas,
whether old-fashioned or modern,
is very simple:
loving others.
Come to think of it,
why do we have to wait for
Christmas to do that?”

~ Bob Hope

 

“Christmas is not a time or season,
but a state of mind.
To cherish peace and goodwill,
to be plenteous in mercy,
is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”

~ Calvin Coolidge

 

“What if Christmas,
he thought,
doesnt’ come from a store.
What if Christmas,
perhaps,
means a little bit more!”

~ The Grinch (Dr. Seuss)

 

*artwork by W. Holcombe.  Please do not use without permission.

Merry Happy Joy to you all.