Pictures in order of most recent to oldest.
Stopping to enjoy a cup of homemade, vegan hot cocoa in this cute little vintage mug from the thrift store (hopefully there’s no lead paint 😳). Yesterday I spent most of the day recharging: I managed to meditate multiple times (yay!), I covered my head whenever I felt my brain going foggy or my stress levels rising, I read some in my new book (Tarot for the Healing Heart), and I watched Poirot on Netflix (my favorite!). Today I’m feeling the benefits of my day of rest and have managed to balance out productivity and pleasure. It feels good! I’m a far cry from where I was seven years ago when I first fell ill with fibromyalgia.
Seven years ago I was a second-semester Sophomore at a small Fundamentalist Baptist college, over a thousand miles away from home. A year before, I finished treatment for my acne with Accutane, a high-powered drug originally used as chemotherapy; it’s now banned in the USA. While on Accuraine I was required to take hormonal birth control. For almost two years I worked as a janitor on campus and constantly came into contact with strong chemicals. I was also involved in multiple highly stressful friendships at the time, in addition to the stress that is college life and the extreme stress of living in a cultish environment. I believe these things, on top of my (undiagnosed at the time) Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (which predisposes one to fibromyalgia), combined to make me sicker than I’d ever been before.
I thought I had done weird case of the flu, except it never went away. My joints felt like they were on fire and I suddenly had what felt like shin splints. I began having the most awful headaches and lived on Excedrin. I was constantly dizzy for a year straight and still have difficulty with my equilibrium. I began suffering terrible abdominal pain and irritable bowel syndrome. My hormones were out of whack and I developed insulin resistance.
Seven years later I’m greatly improved but not as “normal” as I was before. It took a year of tests and scans to receive the diagnosis offybromyalgia; it took three years to find out my underlying condition is Ehlers Danlos. Along the way I’ve developed intolerances to gluten and sulfurous foods (eggs, onion, garlic), highly-acidic foods, and developed an allergy to casein (the protein found in dairy products). I’ve also experienced pregnancy and an emergency cesarean section, followed by postpartum depression and subsequent treatment by antidepressants.
I’ve spent seven years figuring out what was “wrong” with me and how to “fix” it; my views now are so different from my views as a scared, ignorant Sophomore. This journey of living with chronic pain has truly taught me how to live, even if my life is not as easy as expected. The hours upon hours of research and study I’ve logged have taught me so much about my body, the modern state of humanity, and both the compassion and corruption that simultaneously exist amongst medical professionals. I’ve learned to think for myself and take NOTHING for granted. I’ve figured out my problems over and over again when the average doctor had no answers for me. I’ve tried many kinds of treatment and am still learning how to create a state of healing. So, what has worked for me?
1. Reducing stress as much as possible. Life seems bent on sending me stress, but I feel best when managing it through meditation and activities like walking, yoga, and dance.
2. Eating a solid diet. I focus on eating as free of chemicals, preservatives, additivites as possible. I also try to balance between a vegetarian diet and a traditional foods diet. The less sugar I eat the better, but I struggle with this area.
3. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants.
4. Use herbs to make nourishing teas and infusions. The more I study plant-based medicine the more I seek to use it to keep myself well.
5. Maintaining a steady treatment of an antidepressant. This has been surprisingly helpful and has allowed me to sleep better and be far more active than before. I currently have no plans to remove this treatment from my life, even though I would prefer not to be taking a prescription. I find this medication to be extremely helpful and value my state of health over the “purity” of using only all-natural treatments.
6. Covering my head. This is a tool I have only discovered within the last year and have been surprised at how helpful it is been for my fibro-fog. Securely wrapping up my head, thereby covering my crown chakra, has eased my anxiety, lifted headaches, and helped me maintain a general sense of calmness. Feeling balanced and calm is hugely important for someone with fibromyalgia because how you feel mentally/emotionally is so readily translated into pain, fatigue, and malaise.
7. Ditched hormonal birth control for a fertility awareness method of family planning. I’ve used hormonal birth control for two different periods of time in my life; never again! I felt terrible on the pill! Synthetic hormones = 👎 (thumbs down).
8. Remove emotional blockages through talk therapy, writing, and spiritual practice.
This is a brief overview of the last seven years and what has helped me survive those years. I plan to revisit this topic at a future date. Thanks for reading; I’d love to hear your stories and what has helped you find healing.
Last December my parents bought me this pro-life feminist sweatshirt from Life Matters Journal as my birthday present. It’s soft, cozy, and makes a statement – a very bold, supposedly impossible statement: people can be both pro-life and feminist.
Front: this is what a PRO-LIFE FEMINIST looks like
Back: Core Tenets of Feminism
- Equality: For all human beings, regardless of gender, race, religion, politics, age size, or any other circumstance.
- Non-Discrimination: Because any act of discrimination (whether it be sexism, racism, ageism, or ableism) is contrary to human dignity.
- Nonviolence: Because non-discimation in practice means that every human being has the right live a life free from violence.
For Info about Pro-Life Feminism, check out:
Now that the cool of Autumn is here, I’ve begun wearing my sweatshirt again. Because the message is controversial, and I dislike being involved in confrontation and stress (empath here!), I’ll admit to being nervous about wearing this out in public. I live in the Madison area of South Central Wisconsin, a place where Planned Parenthood and “pro-choice” have many passionate supporters, so I’m never sure how people will react when they see the message of “pro-life feminist.” Surprisingly, the only feedback I’ve received has been positive. The first time I wore my sweatshirt out a lady told me how much she liked it. This morning another lady told me she liked the shirt, although she had a lot more to say than just that.
I walked my kindergartner into his class today and, as I was walking back to my vehicle, I passed an older woman who was jogging by. I noticed her glancing at my shirt so I nodded as I walked past her. A few feet down the sidwalk I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was the same lady and she was telling me she wanted to read my sweatshirt. After she read it she began talking about it with me. She said she agreed with all the tenets listed on the back and wanted to hear more about my position. She shared that she used to be a nurse practicioner in a nearby town and was pro-life herself. In her years as a medical practicioner, she said she had come to the conlusion that abortion was a terrible thing but sometimes necessary. She said that she believed the best approach to reducing abortions was to prevent the unwanted pregnancies in the first place through comprehensive sexual education, including a healthy approach to sexuality. I agreed with the importance of that and added that I felt like doing everything we could to make pregnancy unnecessary (socail aid, support programs, etc.) was very important as well. As we finished our discussion she told me, “You keep on wearing that shirt!”
I intend to do so.
This encounter has encouraged me to continue boldly living out my belief in a consistent life ethic/pro-life feminism. My current situation doesn’t allow me to do much, but I intend to do as much as I can to support local women, children and families who find themselves in tough situations.
People were always asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up; I never had much of an answer apart from knowing I wanted to get married and raise a family. Plenty of possibilities presented themselves to me -photography, church music, youth work, massage therapy, missions – but my sporadic nature kept me from settling on something. In college I changed my major several times before settling on a humanities major that focused on literature and history. What would I have done with that degree? Not sure. The development of fibromyalgia prevented me from returning to college so I completed a few credits online to receive an Associate’s Degree in General Studies. I took an online course in photography, hoping I could make that my future career, but life had some dramatic twists that have not made photography a priority for the last few years. I still love it, and am finally pulling out my camera again after a long break. Maybe I’ll pursue it more seriously as the boys continue to grow older. Or maybe I’ll pursue my zillion other passions. 😁
Things I’m currently passionate about learning/doing:
- Tarot reading
- Kitchen witchery
- Crocheting with goal of opening an Etsy shop
- Activism – consistent life ethic issues such as: adoption, foster care, food banks, poverty relief, orphanages, disability rights, Down’s Syndrome rights and adoption, environmental protection, domestic abuse, crisis pregnancy support, unjust war….
- Maternal mental health
- Learning sign language
- Speaking out about abuses in fundamentalist religious communities
- Teaching and being involved in the local homeschool community
- Natural family planning
- Studying Journey of Young Women’s program that equips women to be mentors who will support and guide girls on their transformative journey to womanhood through Girls’ Circles
And my list continues on and on.
In reflection, I find it… amusing that, now that I’m in my chosen career of motherhood, I find myself pining to be involved in activism at a level only attained by someone who is childless or no longer raising their children. It’s frustrating at times, but I also realize that, in all seriousness, I would not have the same understandin of many of the matters I’m so passionate about if I wasn’t raising children. Motherhood has changed my perspective in ways I couldn’t have previously imagined.
I began mothering Big Brother a bit before his 2nd birthday; I was 23 at the time – much younger than most of the other mothers I ran into at parks and the library. I honestly do not regret skipping the career phase most 20 somethings choose before starting a family. The time for charity work will come soon enough, as my boys outgrow their dependence on me. It’s already happening, bit by bit each day. 😔😭🤔😕😊😄😁
“We want to bring our children up in a community where they can feel comfortable to express themselves and explore, a community that values critical thinking and self actualization. And here in our local UU church, we have found that community.” – Libby Ann of Love, Joy, Feminism
Quote comes from this post, Why I Take My Kids to the UU Church, in which Libby Ann explains what makes a Unitarian Universalist church so special and different from the hellfire and brimstone church she was raised in (which I can relate to since Hubby and I both grew up in one as well). Her post illustrates a good portion of why I want my kids involved in a UU church and why I’m likely to say I’m UU if asked by a random stranger what my religious beliefs are. I love the 7 UU Principles and find it an admirable collection of moral guidelines. I love the sense of community, particularly since our family is lacking in that area. I love a lot about UU and our local church, but It’s 30 minutes away and that drive eats up a lot of gas and precious time spent with Hubby on his day off (he doesn’t attend because “church” gives him anxiety).
Also, while I’m fairly liberal, I’m not quite as liberal as most other UU’s I know. I have a feeling I wouldn’t agree with certain aspects of the Our Whole Lives (OWL) sex-Ed program, and I’m not entirely comfortable with some social justice issues that are heavily promoted at my local church. I’ve also struggled with how pro-abortion the Unitarian Universalist Association is. I apply the first principle (the inherent worth and dignity of every person) to the unborn, but it seems most other UU’s do not. 😕 I realize the point of UU is to see what we can accomplish together when we set aside our differences, but a consistent life ethic is hard for me to put aside, especially if I hear abortion preached as a women’s health issue. If you’re unfamiliar with the consistent life ethic, here is Wikipedia’s basic definition:
“The consistent life ethic, or the consistent ethic of life is an ideology that opposes abortion, capital punishment, assisted suicide, and euthanasia. Adherents are opposed, at the very least, to unjust war, while some adherents also profess pacifism, or opposition to all war.”
I’ll write another post later about why I’m pro-life, but for now I’ll recommend these sites (they sum up my position pretty well):
In regards to UU and my family, I’m still undecided what role it will play in our lives going forward. It’s hard to live without the joy of sharing a hymnal and lifting your voice together with others in joy or sorrow. It’s hard to I’ve without support and love from a compassionate community.
It all began with a question:
Why do modern women cover their heads?
As a feminist, I thought most women wrapped due to patriarchal oppression; I found the exact opposite! Research brought stories and ideologies from around the world – some related to patriarchal oppression, but in many situations women considered it their personal choice. I found it fascinating how these women felt more beautiful, self-respected, reverent, and even empowered by this simple act. In April I came across a Pagan women’s story and decided to try head covering for myself.
In early April I wrote:
I’m acting on a hunch – covering my head will cut back on the “noise” that gets in my brain and adds to my anxiety.
I’m very sensitive to the energies around me and find that my anxiety/stress frequently stems from the energies of others. I don’t know much about chakras, but I read somewhere about a woman using a headscarf to protect her 1st chakra from outside energies. If this works out I’m going to be soooo happy! I think huge amounts of my anxiety is coming straight from my excessively anxious, volatile, special-needs son.
A few days later I concluded:
I’m totally sold on head covering as a means to block unwanted energies. Now to figure out how to incorporate it into everyday life… gracefully. I feel so much lighter when I cover, presumably because all the other energies weigh me down. Being an empath is interesting and not something I chose, but it’s who I am and I’m finally learning how to live with it.
In late May I wrote:
I like wrapping my head up in a scarf. I’ve decided to refer to this as head wrapping instead of head covering. “Covering” signifies submission, and I’m not doing this as an act of submission. Wrapping is empowering to me on so many levels:
1. I have chosen to do it for myself, not because of anyone else or any ideology
2. I’ve followed my intuition in this choice (instead of silencing my intuition out of fear)
3. I feel better when I wrap, so choosing to continue is practicing self-care
4. I think it’s beautiful and I feel beautiful doing it.
I think this is a small but hugely important step toward me growing into who I want to be – who I really am when I don’t try to shift into who others want me to be. I’m building my own identity and I love it ❤️
And I’m still wrapping! It’s not a religious conviction or requirement, so I don’t do it 24/7. I do it when I feel like I need to put my head on straight – “I tell Little Brother, “Mama needs to put her head on.” I enjoy how put-together and powerful I feel with a beautiful wrap around my head. It’s my crown when I need to remember I’m the queen of my life and household.
I got some new scarves at the thrift store yesterday and ❤️ them. A soft black muslin, a sheer black with stars and the moon, and a shimmery sari with orange to pink ombré at each end. Scarves could easily become an addiction, but at least they don’t take up much space and are about $3 at the thrift store.
Check out this collection of stories from Wrapunzel about women who wrap for a variety of reasons: