Lately, I’ve been thinking about inner peace and how I can be more present each and every day of my life. I’m a very happy person- ask anyone and they’ll tell you I’m always smiling and happy…but I’ve been trying to focus my happiness (along with my chronic pain moments) with a touch of mindfulness. Since July, I’ve been trying to get to a place where we can just BE. Working for myself the past four years, I have gone through periods where I’m not fully present and then some when I’m super-duper present. I’m a hard worker, type A personality, high energy kinda gal and since I’ve had this fabulous job of creating “The Healthy Apple” full-time I’ve gone through moments of insane stress- worrying about deadlines, submissions, etc. etc. etc…..then something happened this summer that made me STOP. Yes, I stopped. Stopped worrying, stopped caring about things that are out of my control, stopped trying to write for every magazine and be a rock star on every social media channel, stopped focusing on external things to make me happy and so on. It was EXHAUSTING but I was so numb to the day-to-day GO GO GO that I wasn’t being present with myself. Then came July….I ended up in bed from mid-July until mid-November in chronic—-I repeat—-chronic pain. I’m talking serious stuff here, folks. My CPK of my muscles was off the charts, my body felt like someone had beat me up plus run 3 marathons every day and NOTHING gave me relief. Now, as you all know- the past decade I’ve dealt with some pretty heavy medical stuff and I’ve gotten through it- but this—well, this was different. I could not move. I missed my best friends wedding, my summer, my fall, my holidays and so much more. I laid in bed all day or in an Epsom salt bath for hours hysterically crying as my body cramped up and body starting attacking my muscles. It was a relapse of my Myocitis and the doctors weren’t sure if it was a Lyme disease flare, an autoimmune disease, a gut yeast issue, a magnesium issue or what….but let me tell you. It was the first time in my life that I caught myself on the floor of my bathroom daily- praying and crying and asking for help and relief. I didn’t know who the heck I was talking to- who I was asking or what I was doing but out of nowhere I honestly caught myself praying. It was wild. And I started to shift my perception of this awful, awful situation. Maybe this was a little mini miracle.
Maybe this was a way that someone was trying to tell me to slow the HECK down.
Maybe it was a way for me to learn yoga.
Maybe it was someone trying to teach me a lesson.
Or maybe it was just that I needed another BIG kick in the butt to open up mindfulness and spirituality to my life. Before July, EVERYONE told me to start yoga, meditation, mindfulness, yada yada. And I had tried it but wasn’t too keen on it.
Well, then it dawned on me that maybe this was the part of my healing process that I hadn’t tapped into–maybe this was the VERY last step to heal completely. I started reading books about how our minds control our body- started saying positive affirmations- starting doing daily yoga and meditation and slowing down, working less and learning how to LET IT GO. How to …. Let go of the thoughts in our minds, Let go of the crazy what-if’s that swarm around in our heads, Let go of all the nonsense we create in our minds all day long. I let it all go.
Being alone in my bed- not able to move and being fully present with myself gave me a new kind of meditation and method of spiritual healing. Nothing has made me feel as grounded as having gone through the last decade of chronic pain.
So, today I’ve decided to start your week with a few of my best practices that have helped me heal in hopes that they will help you or someone you love that is faced with chronic pain. Even if you or your loved ones are not facing pain currently, these practices can be helpful for you anyway.
Take a deep breath and read on!
1. Appreciate what surrounds you.
Don’t compare. Don’t count. Don’t deprive yourself of love, touch, food, happiness, etc. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Just do your thing. Take in and appreciate everything in your life. If you look close enough you’ll realize how you are (or are not) nourishing and feeding your soul. Appreciate the sunshine, the birds chirping, the organic food at the market, the green light when you’re in a hurry, the little old man that holds the door open for you…..
2. Cry when you feel alone and helpless.
When we feel like we’re the only ones suffering or when we are scared that our pain will never ease-up, we get discouraged and lose faith. I stopped feeling sorry for myself. Started crying to my best friend, my mom and my sister and even my dad. The people who love and support you—will do just that—they’ll love and support you to reassure you and hold you and help you.
3. Smile as much as you can.
Greet new experiences and people with a big smile. Meet your daily experiences with a joyful smile on your face that says “I’m open to whatever today will bring me”. To receive more abundance in our lives, we’ve gotta celebrate what we are currently experiencing. Being open and receptive to energy each and every day is what we need….
4. Sleep at least 8-10 hours a night and REST.
Resting our bodies is one of the best lessons I learned from this painful issue. I found a way to run my business, hire help and get my rest, do yoga, take baths, get lots and lots and LOTS of sleep and most importantly not feel guilty about it. My body is my #1 priority- why the heck did I not put it first for the first 20 years of my life? What the heck was I thinking? Sadly, I wasn’t present at all….I was wound up in the Manhattan corporate life in my 20’s and suffocated by sports, to-do’s, college applications and pressure from my parents, teachers, coaches, etc when I was younger to just STOP and Be. I found a diary from when I was in High School a few months ago and I started hysterically crying when I read one of the pages. It proved to me that my aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, etc. were right- I was pushed pushed pushhhhhheeeedddddddd. I never had down time. I never had time to rest. I was pulled from one sport to the next- one school club to the next and so forth—all for what? To please my parents? To get into a good college? I’m still not sure about all of this but the worst part about reading this was that when I traced back to my medical records from when I was a teenager—in high school and college—I had chronic low white blood cells and lots of whacky blood work issues that no doctor ever told my parents about. So, all that time I was pushed and pulled and forced to do all this crap I didn’t ever really want to do—I was sick. I was tired, I was exhausted, I was crying for help inside–with Lyme disease and three other viruses that no one found until I was 30. So, what did this teach me?
To rest. To stop. To take time for Amie and to feel good about it. I started treating my body like a temple, because it is. I no longer force it to stay up and write blog posts until 1 AM or force it to go to every Manhattan event if I’m tired or force it to do everything other people want me to do. I no longer feel guilty about reading a fun (non-work related book) before bed or watching a funny movie or treating myself to a massage because these are things that relax me! And finally at the prime (and fabulous) age of 32, I’m ready to do what I wanna do, stop trying to please everyone. What do I want to do? Rest and heal and feel absolutely amazing like I did before I had chronic pain.
5. Put others on your schedule.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve done everything on other people’s schedules to please them–even if it meant me staying up late or waking up early and not feeling well. This all changed in July.
You’re on my schedule now. Enough said.
6. Don’t be afraid to change and grow every day.
Life is my own little personal adventure- and so is yours. None of the changes that happen stress me out anymore- I just go with the flow. I’ve learned to trust myself more and accept the wild ride of life changes that I’m on. Why is it that as we get older we loose trust in ourselves? I’m not sure but all I know is that if we just trust ourselves a little bit more- we’d see a huge shift in our daily happiness. I don’t cling to what’s known. I’m embracing the unknown without fear.
7. Have fun; forget the gym and go play outside like you did when you were a kid.
I try not to have an agenda for my day anymore. Yes, I have a few meetings, clients and events but I spend my day playing, having fun, soaking up life, inspiring myself, learning, studying nutrition and detox and supplements and blood work results so that I can help more of you understand the chronic illnesses that our society is facing every day. I stopped hustling, I stopped pushing myself. Those days are older- and I’m in charge now. You’re in charge of your life too. Why did it take me so long to realize this? I allow happiness and ease to enter my life. I plan less and I play a whole lot more. Instead of agonizing over how we should spend our free time- how about we simply open ourselves up and fall into what’s unfolding before our eyes–this thing called life.
Trust me, you’ll enjoy life a whole lot more when you’re more present with yourself and not filling your calendar with to-do’s, should’s and so forth. Stop all that crap. Do what makes you happy and forget the rest. Don’t wait for a situation like my health issue in July to make you change, start today with baby steps. Go watch your favorite animated move, enjoy a bubble bath every night, get into bed earlier and wake up later, curl up with a good book, take a walk in the sunshine and lay in the grass or just be still.
Now it’s time to feel good and try my ‘Feel Good Roasted Fennel Salad’ below.
Try to buy everything organic. Here’s why: The Benefits of Eating Organic.
- 2 fennel bulbs sliced into quarters and fronds removed
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- pinch chili powder
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 cups mixed baby salad greens
- 1 small head radicchio chopped
- 3 Tbsp. raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- 1 tsp. honey or pure maple syrup
- lemon zest for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Rub olive oil onto fennel slices and place on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with chili powder, salt and pepper.
Roast for 1 hour or until tender and golden brown; flip fennel pieces after 30 minutes of roasting. Remove from oven.
In a large serving bowl, combine fennel with salad greens, radicchio, pumpkin seeds.
In a small bowl, whisk 1 Tbsp. olive oil, lemon juice, honey, sea salt and pepper, to taste. Toss to combine and serve. Garnish with lemon zest.