intro to the paleo diet with Chris Kresser

This post was started on March 14, 2014 and I am finally getting around to finishing it and posting it for you. Since that time I am 55 pounds lighter and feel good. This is the first of many posts about the paleo diet and autoimmune protocol that I have adopted to manage multiple sclerosis.

I have studied and mostly followed a paleo diet since March of 2014. Several books were published about that time on using the paleo approach to manage autoimmune disease. I own several and have listed them below the video.

In this post I am introducing Chris Kresser as I like his practical approach. Learn more about Chris at

Currently I am following the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) as designed by Sarah Ballantyne. I have followed the AIP since March 1st, 2015.

Chris Kresser is author of Your Personal Code; The Three Step Plan to Lose Weight, Reverse Disease, and Stay Fit and Healthy for Life.

Here is the list of books I own (yeah, it’s a lot…. I like to learn all I can before jumping in…. please don’t judge).

*All are available via my Amazon store (affiliate link)


Your Personal Paleo Code by Chris Kresser
The Paleo Approach; Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD
The Wahls Protocol; How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine by Terry Wahls, MD


The Paleo Approach Cookbook; A Detailed Guide to Heal Your Body and Nourish Your Soul by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD
The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook by Mickey Trescott
The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook; Eating for All Phases of the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol by Angie Alt
He Won’t Know It’s Paleo; 100+ Autoimmune Protocol Recipes bt Breanna Emmitt
Make Ahead Paleo; Healthy Gluten-, Grain-, & Dairy-free Recipes Ready When and Where You Are by Tammy Credicott
Against All Grain; Meals Made Simple by Danielle Walker
Against All Grain; Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great by Danielle Walker
Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry by Elana Amsterdam


The Paleo Mom
A Clean Plate
Autoimmune Paleo


Connect with someone special ~ A loved one is a gift to treasure.


Creating Heart Connections was the name of my business and now it is the name my website. It describes all the services and/or classes that I still offer to anyone seeking a more “heart-centered” life. It’s content doesn’t change much but I love idea of “creating heart CONNECTIONS”.  So I keep it… It serves as a reminder to me as to my purpose.

I use this site (Living “What Is”) as my primary site these days, blogging about living with MS or self-care. It is geared towards persons living with a chronic illness or issues related to an injury or aging… or whatever is up for me.  It is, for me, an important way to stay CONNECTED with others.  It IS a heart CONNECTION.

That said, I would like to focus this week’s self-care reflection on the importance of CONNECTION for people living with illness or dealing with issues of aging. As an occupational therapist and person with MS I know that it is easy to isolate myself because it takes a great deal of effort to leave my home. My home has everything I need… an office with a computer/internet, a NuStep, and a sewing room. Yes, I have everything I need right here except…..

People contact!

Living with a chronic illness or advanced age can be lonely. Friendships change. The ability to take part in previous activities may no longer be possible or fluctuate from day-to-day making it hard to keep up relationships based on shared interests. (Like long walks around the neighborhood)…. And loved ones and friends die. It’s depressing.

CONNECTION with others becomes paramount to living well with illness, injury or aging.  Sometimes we need the assistance of others to be safe or take care of personal care needs/home maintenance. We can pay for that help and it does make our life more manageable.  However it’s the love and support of family or friends that make life worth living…. and may even lead to greater wellness. (I love the quote in the image to the right).

I am reminded of the Cami Walker story. Cami founded the website and movement 29Gifts. She was given the prescription to give 29 gifts in 29 days to manage her MS symptoms.  These little gifts were 29 heart CONNECTIONS that changed her thinking and her life. Giving or being in service to another is powerful medicine… and I believe it is more than just offering a gift.  It is CONNECTING with the heart of another, an expression of our soul, and an experience of Oneness.

It’s the main reason that I offer Daily Inspiration or decided to offer this self-care series. It’s one of the ways that I can CONNECT with others on-line since I am no longer part of the workforce. It makes me feel like I am part of something bigger than myself. It feels good, too.

Living a life of wellness requires CONNECTION. Sometimes we have to get really creative to make CONNECTION with others happen especially when we are limited physically. I believe it is worth the effort.  What about you? How important is CONNECTION in your life?






Choose love ~ Let your love become a powerful force for change.


A powerful message for this next week that really needs no lengthy post with lots of words…..

So, instead… and in the spirit of “Throwback Thursday” (#tbt) I found this delightful video of Jackie DeShannon singing her 1969 hit song – Put a Little Love in Your Heart.

I couldn’t stop there. Below the video I found a great quote by John Lennon, too.

Choose love this next week and the week after that…. and the next week, too.



john lennon quote

Related Post: 2015 ~ A Year of Self-Care


Practice present-moment awareness ~ The meaning you yearn for lives in the ever-present NOW.

“Breathing in, I calm body and mind.Eckhart Tolle and Thich Nhat Hahn are two (of the many) spiritual teachers who have written extensively on the buddhist teaching of present moment awareness. This post includes some of their most popular quotes. (As well as Michael Singer, Swami Rama, and Osho).

Present moment AWARENESS is one of my daily goals….. I find it challenging to stay in the present moment when my mind either takes me back to replay a memory or scenario… or races into the future.

In my last post on MAGNIFICENCE, I wrote about the “voices in my head” that try to rob me of my presence. Sadly, most of the time they are successful.

However, the simple act of stopping and noticing the “voices in my head” is AWARENESS. Yes, it is that simple… and it is in that place that I know truth. The past is done and my memory of it is probably distorted anyway. The future is really unknown and ripe with possibility or fear of the unknown. Neither past or future thinking is helpful.

The only truth at this moment is that I am searching for words of wisdom to share at the same time a voice inside my head is offering a litany of reasons that I should just forget about writing today. So many negative thoughts and beliefs about myself.

[I am not the “voice in my head.”   I am the one who is AWARE of the voice in my head.  That feels better…….and I continue to write.]

Quotes that I have found helpful.  Enjoy!

“As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the most simple action.”
― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” – Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

“As you go deeper into yourself, you will naturally come to realize that there is an aspect of your being that is always there and never changes. This is your sense of awareness, your consciousness. It is this awareness that is aware of your thoughts, experiences the ebb and flow of your emotions, and receives your physical senses. – Michael Singer

“To dwell in the here and now does not mean you never think about the past or responsibly plan for the future. The idea is simply not to allow yourself to get lost in regrets about the past or worries about the future. If you are firmly grounded in the present moment, the past can be an object of inquiry, the object of your mindfulness and concentration. You can attain many insights by looking into the past. But you are still grounded in the present moment.” -Thich Nhat Hahn

“The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.” – Thich Nhat Hahn

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”  – Thich Nhat Hahn

Awareness is the greatest alchemy there is. Just go on becoming more and more aware, and you will find your life changing for the better in every possible dimension. It will bring great fulfillment. -Osho

Bring awareness to each act. Walking on the road, walk fully alert; eating, eat with awareness. Whatsoever you are doing, don’t let the past and the future interfere. Be in the present. That’s what awareness is all about.” – Osho

Do not allow yourself to suppress your thoughts. Instead, let the thoughts come before you and become a sort of observer. Start observing your own mind. Do not try to escape; do not be afraid of your thinking. – Swami Rama


Own your magnificence ~ The world needs your brilliance and grace.

I’m late… I’m late… with this post. I have procrastinated. This is a difficult card for me to write about.

Me, MAGNIFICENT? How can that be?

My first response was to smile …. briefly.  And then the “voice” gets started.  You know that one that tells you that can’t possibly be true and reminds you of all the ways that you are not MAGNIFICENT.

Sigh! It is non-stop.

As I write I am reminded of Mary Anne Williamson’s famous quote (short version):

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?   ― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

Underneath all the negative self-talk and fear, was the truth. I am MAGNIFICENT. I know that to be true because my first response was to smile…. if only briefly.  There was a recognition of that simple truth.

Years of conditioning by my family, society, and the Church on top of my own feelings of self-worth (no blaming here) make it difficult for me to say the word MAGNIFICENT without feeling a “niggling” in my gut or tightness in my chest. Ugh… “that voice” takes away any chance of feeling MAGNIFICENT.

I am currently reading (and studying) The Untethered Soul; The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael Singer with a group of friends. Singer teaches that the best way to free oneself from the “voice of the mind” is to step back and view it objectively. It’s just the voice inside the head… just notice it.

I am the one noticing the “voice” in my head….. not the voice. No matter what the voice says, it is still just a voice talking and I am the one listening…. the MAGNIFICENT one listening.

Works for me.

How about you?  Do you own your MAGNIFICENCE?  Or do you fear it? How do you manage the “voice” in your head?

michael singer




Own your power ~ Every storm brings a fresh new beginning.


Personal POWER.


Disappointment, heartache, physical loss, and betrayal (our inner storms) often leave us feeling POWERless.

This week’s card is inviting us to look at our inner storms differently. Rather than feeling frustrated, blaming ourselves or others, and giving up we are gifted an opportunity to begin anew, to rise up like the phoenix.

But first, we must understand the thunder and lightning…. or the thoughts, emotions, limiting beliefs, disappointments, worries about the future….. the list of possibilities is long.

The key = awareness.

Awareness is POWER.

“Awareness is the key. Do we see the stories that we’re telling ourselves and question their validity? When we are distracted by strong emotion, do we remember that it is our path? Can we feel the emotion and breathe it into our hearts for ourselves and everyone else? If we can remember to experiment like this even occasionally, we are training as a warrior. And when we can’t practice when distracted but KNOW we can’t, we are still training well. Never underestimate the power of compassionately recognizing what’s going on.”  ― Pema Chödrön,


Awareness occurs in real-time.  It is always available and to access it, one must let go of thoughts or emotions related to the past or future and stay focused on what is happening in the present moment. It is mindfulness….. and it takes practice especially if your present moment is not pleasant.

Present moment awareness is a POWERful practice/skill to cultivate.

Personally, it is, and has been, my intention to live well with my chronic illness. For me, that means learning to keep my thoughts in the present moment. Regrets about the past or worry about the future only brings me down.  It is not easy to ignore the barrage of thoughts and stories that are always present in my mind. I am constantly asking myself: “Is this true?”  The answer is almost always “no.”  Byron Katie would ask…. How do I react when I believe it (my thoughts) to be true?

Focusing on the breath or doing a brief body scan to see where there is discomfort in my body and sending the breath there have been helpful to shift my energy. Meditation helps, too. Meditation also has the POWER to transform. Any activity practiced mindfully and with intention becomes a meditation…. folding laundry, washing dishes, yoga, or even walking the dog.

The Mental Health Benefits Of Meditation: It’ll Alter Your Brain’s Grey Matter, And Improve Memory, Sense Of Self

Now it is your turn….. If this were your card, what is its message for you?

Image Credit: Putut Handoko

Related posts:

2015 ~ Year of Self-care


Step into the light ~ Share your gifts and talents with the world.

Are you sharing your gifts and talents with the world.  If not, what is holding you back?  

Step into the Light!

Fear, perhaps?

It often holds me back and when I look at it I discover that underlying this fear is a limiting belief that I am not good enough.

Some years ago, I took a stab at writing a piece of poetry for my friend (and early morning walking partner) on her 40th birthday. She read it aloud and then looked at me and said, “I don’t get it.” I was mortified and felt shamed.  I haven’t written poetry since.

I’ll admit that it probably wasn’t great though it was written from the heart. I was less forgiving of myself in those days and while I have become more tolerant of failed creative attempts, I still find myself holding back out of fear…. and the memory of feeling like a fool.

True confession…. that fear is still hanging around.  I feel it every Time I hit the publish button on this blog.

Allowing myself to feel vulnerable and move ahead despite the fear is a deeply personal challenge. It is one of the reasons that the content on this blog has been sparse over the past few years.

The commitment to write weekly within this structure (52 Weeks of Self-Care) is one I made to help me manage my fear… and to offer support and encouragement to you as we journey together toward wholeness.

I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and be vulnerable with you each week and will close with a quote from one of my favorite authors that speaks the power of vulnerability.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Don’t be afraid to step into the light and share your many gifts and talent with the world!

Photo Credit:  Rafal Borowiec


the arrival of illness


John O’Donohue is one of my favorite writers and his book, To Bless the Space Between Us; A Book of Blessings, is always within easy reach. The following poem has particular meaning for me and I refer to it often.  Perhaps you will find it meaningful as well. (Highlighting is mine).

for a friend, on the arrival of illness
John O’Donohue

John O'Donohue
John O’Donohue

Now is the time of dark invitation
Beyond a frontier that you did not expect;
Abruptly, your old life seems distant.

You barely noticed how each day opened
A path through fields never questioned,
Yet expected deep down to hold treasure.
Now your time on earth becomes full of threat;
Before your eyes your future shrinks.

You lived absorbed in the day to day,
So continuous with everything around you,
That you could forget you were separate;

Now this dark companion has come between you,
Distances have opened in your eyes,
You feel that against your will
A stranger has married your heart.

Nothing before has made you
Feel so isolated and lost.

When the reverberations of shock subside in you,
May grace come to restore you to balance.
May it shape a new space in your heart
To embrace this illness as a teacher
Who has come to open your life to new worlds.

May you find in yourself
A courageous hospitality
Towards what is difficult,
Painful and unknown.

May you use this illness
As a lantern to illuminate
The new qualities that will emerge in you.

To Bless the Space Between UsMay the fragile harvesting of this slow light
Help you to release whatever has become false in you.
May you trust this light to clear a path
Through all the fog of old unease and anxiety
Until you feel arising within you a tranquility
Profound enough to call the storm to stillness.

May you find the wisdom to listen to your illness:
Ask it why it came? Why it chose your friendship?
Where it wants to take you? What it wants you to know?
What quality of space it wants to create in you?
What you need to learn to become more fully yourself
That your presence may shine in the world.

May you keep faith with your body,
Learning to see it as a holy sanctuary
Which can bring this night-wound gradually
Towards the healing and freedom of dawn.

May you be granted the courage and vision
To work through passivity and self-pity,
To see the beauty you can harvest
From the riches of this dark invitation.

May you learn to receive it graciously,
And promise to learn swiftly
That it may leave you newborn,
Willing to dedicate your time to birth.

Learn more about John O’Donohue here


Have a good cry ~ Grief is a doorway to your deepest self.

Grief! I know it well!

Accept what is,Let go of what was, andMy father passed away in November of last year from complications related to his dementia. He was 76. I miss him and think about him everyday.

I want to briefly honor my loss as grieving the death of loved ones is unescapable.  We will all experience it at some time and I am no exception. It certainly has reminded me of my mortality.

In this post I’d rather touch on a larger and ever-present source of grief. The grief that comes with illness and/or aging. I have experience with that type of grief as well and I suspect that you do too.

Pause. There is a cardinal building a nest in the tree outside of my window. It wasn’t there two days ago and will disappear from my view when the leaves appear. Makes my heart happy. Pause ends.

With each physical loss, and there have been many, I grieve. I go through a period of anger and frustration and finally settle on acceptance of “what is.”  I make it sound so easy but it is not. Each loss is an invitation to STOP fighting and embrace the truth of my situation. It does not mean giving up. I have never worked harder to keep my body as healthy as it can be and to deal with long-held limiting beliefs that contribute to poor health. It’s true…. aging and chronic illness are not for sissies!

I have no action steps or magic formula to offer. I believe we must each find our own way through the doorway to our deepest self, by allowing and not fighting “what is.” I will share a few pearls though.

RELEASE or let go of thoughts related to how you think you life should be and celebrate what it is. Seek out support from family, friends, counselors, etc., if needed. You are worth it.

RELEASE any foolish ideas or worry about the future, it is unknown. Stay present (and invest in tissues).

You got this.


Queen Elsa of Arendelle

Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on

The cold never bothered me anyway!

Related posts:
2015 ~ a year of self-care
the long good-bye