tough on the outside, soft on the inside.

It is day #3 of the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge and today we are writing about – SUPERPOWERS!  I had to sit with this one a bit, even wrote about it in my journal.  This is what I know.

Other’s see me as a strong woman, capable of handling anything. I am a source of strength in a crisis and am very resilient which means that I “bounce” well.  When I fall, literally or figuratively, I dust myself off and get right back up.   Superwoman

What people don’t often see is my soft inside or soft-belly,  as I call it. I keep that part hidden, protected. It is my source of power.  You probably know it, too.  Ever had a “gut feeling” about something?  Gut feelings are more than the butterflies in your stomach…they are part of a very sophisticated internal guidance system – intuition.

Intuition, according to Webster’s dictionary, is the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning. It’s the gut doing a quick check-in with the brain where facts and feelings from our life experience are stored.   When I pay attention to my intuition, or” gut feelings”, I am offered guidance about what to do next.

My soft inside is also associated with the heart.  Follow your heart!  What does your heart say?  Like the gut, the heart speaks the truth. Simply placing my hand on my heart helps me to speak from my heart more easily.  My words are authentic and true. It is where I hold compassion for myself and others.

My superpower is activated when I take the time to pause and check-in with my soft belly before taking action, that is, compassionate action!

just say yes!

When we put down ideas of what life should be like, we are free to wholeheartedly say yes to our life as it is. – Tara Brach

This is my favorite quote this week. I have many. I am particularly fond of Tara Brach’s work on Radical Acceptance.  Radical Acceptance, according to Brach is “the willingness to experience ourselves and our life as it is. A moment of Radical Acceptance is a moment of genuine freedom.”

Radical Acceptance by Tara BrachThis book (and several others) along with many years of spiritual counseling, is the foundation upon which my website and blog, Living “What Is” are built.  It took me a long time to let go of what I thought my life should be instead of accepting what it is. I chased every promise of a cure…. I studied self-healing… I meditated… I prayed… and still my illness progressed.  I felt a great deal of guilt around the fact that I couldn’t make myself better, feeling unworthy and depressed. I am, after all, an occupational therapist. I thought I should be immune to illness. Wrong!

I am not sure of how or when the shift occurred. Perhaps it was the first time I used my walker to walk around my neighborhood.  It was parked in the garage for several months before I had the courage to use it. Part of my suffering was around what others would think and I felt a great deal of shame that I was unable to heal myself. Here’s my journal entry from that beautiful Fall day.

Cruising the neighborhood has a whole new meaning for me today. My vehicle – a four-wheeled walker with a seat. The color is lavender and it comes equipped with a basket, all terrain wheels and hand brakes. It’s a beauty as far as walkers go.

The first block I was on the verge of tears and experiencing a whole myriad of emotions were caught in my throat. I wanted to turn around and go back. I felt stupid and told myself so. Did I really even need it or was I exaggerating my need for an assistive device? Perhaps it would be better if I just continued to walk on my treadmill.

And then, I noticed the breeze blowing through the trees, the beautiful flowers, and the small boys delivering The Shopper Stopper. My thinking shifted from thoughts of woe to gratitude and appreciation. For the first time in a long time I could look about while walking and enjoy my surroundings more easily when I wasn’t concentrating on each step.

Today my walk was short and close to home. Perhaps tomorrow I will have the courage to walk further knowing that it really isn’t about the distance. Rather it is about being seen and opening my heart to acceptance of what is.

My life is good. When I let go of my thoughts about what it should be and embraced what it is, my life changed for the better. What is happening to my body “sucks” but it is not who I am…. and finally, after years of teaching others about the importance of self-care – mind, body, spirit and emotions – I am taking care of myself.  I write, support, coach, teach, and create.  I am a wife, mother, and friend. I have a different life from my friends.  My illnesses have taught me how to live… and I am living well.

When we put down ideas of what life should be like, we are free to wholeheartedly say yes to our life as it is. – Tara Brach





a snapshot in time

This is my first post as part of the Health Activist’s Writer’s Challenge.  The challenge: Pretend you’re making a time capsule of you and your health focus that won’t be opened until 2112.  What is in it? What would people think of it when they found it?  

When I imagine 2112, I think of the Star Trek movies where they scan your body and heal it with a wand. Health and wellness will be about balancing energies within the body.  It is exciting that we are just beginning to appreciate the benefits of energy medicine.  I look forward with excitement to the possibilities of my children and grandchildren’s future.  But, I digress and need to get back to the task at hand – putting together a time capsule.

What will healthcare look like in the future?My time capsule will include pictures of all the people I love.  When my children graduated from high school I took all those pictures that i just threw into a paper bag and put them into a scrapbook.  I have never been very good at recording dates so I focused on themes and events, gathering images that touched my heart and made me smile.  I started one for myself that included highlights in my life – some related to being a wife and mother but mostly about my personal accomplishments.

I want my children to know and appreciate me as a person.  That has become especially important to me now as I am living with several chronic illnesses. I don’t want my descendants to describe me as the grandmother who suffered with ms because that’s not true.  I am living quite well, thank you, and am working very hard to not let my illnesses define me.

Let’s see… so far I have pictures of my family and my scrapbook.  It would be important to include a flash drive (I hope it’s not obsolete by then) of all my blog posts as they have become an extension of my journal. It would also include my yet-to-be-written manifesto, or the core beliefs that have governed my life. It might even include some videos if I figure out how to create them on my desktop.  With all these items, I imagine my box to be the size of the pink plastic crate that sits under my desk collecting single-side paper copies for recycling.

I hope that future generations would come to know what was in my heart. Living a full life isn’t about being free of illness or challenges but rather, it is about learning to transcend them… it is about living “what is” each day.

The Healer Within

One of my favorite self-healing books is The Healer Within by Roger Jahnke, Doctor of Oriental Medicine. Dr. Jahnke presents every year at the National Wellness Conference and I have attended several of his sessions. He is the “real deal.”  This year, I bought his book as it was recommended by Betty Iams, on her website, Betty’s House… Life After MS.  This book is also available in my bookstore.

Dr. Jahnke, advocates for movement, massage, meditation and breathing as practices to bring the body into harmony. He invites the reader to take independent, calm and deliberate action for self-healing. (Did I mention that his wife is an occupational therapist and he gives voice to support for the profession?)

He offers the following tools and pearls of wisdom:

The Tools

1. Gentle, purposeful movement of the body

2. Self-applied massage

3. Breathing practice

4. Deep relaxation, meditation, and prayer

The Pearls

1. The healer is within us.

2. We produce the most profound medicine ever developed in human history within our own bodies.

3. The self-healing and enhancement methods turn these medications on.

4. We can heal disease and enhance our vitality – for free.

5. We can transform the crisis in medicine into a rebirth of self-reliance.

6. The self-healing methods have hundreds of applications that can heal and empower our communities.

7. The practice of the self-healing methods can expand our spiritual practice.

8. Average people can teach each other to do self-healing.

The Possibility

1. Through our practice we can contribute to a “healing field”; when we heal ourselves we help heal the world.

AMEN to that! I am happy to have found this resource and it is a pleasure to share this book with you.



new look… new website… new focus…

Very often a change of self is needed more than a change of scene.  – Arthur Christopher Benson

My Living “What Is” Blog has become simply Living “What Is”.  It is a new website with a new look and focus.  It’s been incubating over the long Winter, arriving at this time of new beginnings – Spring.  How apropos and synchronous the timing!  The focus of this website is to explore the spiritual aspects of living well with a chronic illness, physical challenge or issues related to our aging bodies. It is also my story.

image of healing handsTo introduce this website and jumpstart my blogging, I have accepted the 30 day, 30 posts challenge at WEGO Health beginning April 1st.  Once again, I am in awe of the timing of the invitation to participate.  How did they know that it was just what I needed to get started.  I love it when the Universe gives me a gentle push or, in this case, a shove.

To receive my posts in your inbox, sign up to the right or read me on Facebook or Twitter. If you like what I write (or not) feel free to comment and please share my post.  For previous subscribers to My Living “What Is” Blog, please re-submit your request as your subscription will not transfer. Thanks…..

In closing…. welcome to my new website and blog.  Tell me what you think by commenting below. I consider feedback a gift.

In gratitude for your support, 




MS Awareness Month

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is one of my daily companions.  I didn’t invite her… she came on her own and decided not to leave. She is both a blessing and a curse.  I honor her this month, as it is MS Awareness Month, by offering this great little video by the National MS Society.

Allow me to introduce you…..

Ill-Health, It Happens to Us All Sometime….

Sharing a bit of comforting wisdom from the Buddha:

I am of the nature to grow old.

There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill-health.

There is no way to escape having ill-health

I am of the nature to die.

There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love

are of the nature to change.

There is no way to escape being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings.

I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.

My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

Today I am…. reflecting upon shoes and joy

In my journal writing with my SoulCollage® cards this morning I received the following message: “Do not live waiting for the other shoe to drop.” Hmmmm.

It was the perfect card for today as I, like Eeyore, have been feeling a bit melancholy. Actually, I have been engaging in my own little pity party. This card was a great reminder to focus on the joys, big and small, in my life.

My SoulCollage® card -

For those of you not familiar with SoulCollage®, the “I Am One Who” exercise that is done as part of a daily reading, offers an opportunity for the soul to speak using the image on the card. I loved the background image on this card and mounted it immediately because it resonated deeply. The image of yours truly and Eeyore came later. It is my favorite picture of myself… it is pre-visible illness and I was still working. Obviously we were at DisneyWorld. I look at that picture and I am reminded of that part of me who loves fun and spontaneity. The two images seemed to fit together….

Here is there message of the card:

I am one who is spontaneous.

I am one who dances with life.

I am one who is not afraid to embrace joy.

And the message for today:

Do not be sad. Look for places within you that are joyous and do not be afraid to let them be seen. It will help you with this dark cloud that is hovering overhead. It’s true that your life isn’t all fun but you don’t have to “live” there. There is joy to be found in the simplest of things – Jasmine’s tail (my daughter’s cat is visiting), the new snow, my ability to create meaningful cards.

“Do not live wating for the other shoe to drop.”

I take that to mean not to focus on what is not going well right now and the expectation that things will get worse…. that kind of stinkin’ thinkin’ on my part contributes to my melancholy, this sense of gloom and doom that is hovering about. <sigh> This too shall pass… all is well.

My soul spoke to me today in my writing and through this card, as it often does. That is the beauty of the SoulCollage® process. Both journaling and SoulCollage® offer a glimpse of my true nature. Has your soul spoken to you today? Did you take time to listen and reflect?

I offer gratitude for my cards, the artists /photographers who created the images, my teachers, and that aspect of my being who knows and remembers joy.

Healing through Multiple Sclerosis

I follow Cathy Aten’s Healing Through Multiple Sclerosis blog. She is a gifted writer and I find truth and humor in her writing.

Here is an excerpt from a recent post that moved me a great deal…..

“HEALING”, for me, is the absence of desiring ‘other’.

To get there means being in partnership with this ‘thing’:

Not loving it but not hating it, either.

The more I need (read: need not want) it to be gone

The less energy I have to live.

In the process of attempting to look MS in the face

Without tightening my jaw in defense,

I am becoming more.

I judge less (self and other).

I am grateful more often.

I am less desirous of ’stuff’.

I am quicker to forgive.

I love deeper.

I am present to my sorrow more.

It excites me.

And feels lonely, sometimes.

Continue reading……

Thank you, Cathy, for sharing your gift of words and encouragement. All is well.