Category Archives: Family

CHECKING BACK IN

I have not been paying much attention to my blog lately other than weekly check in with steps but the truth is my MCTD is pretty quiet so I haven’t had much to discuss recently. I am not complaining about a dormant MCTD but I do think it is time to do a full check and reconnect.

I am at 242 days without a flare and with the extremely mild winter that Maine has had this year I have not even suffered from Raynaud’s much either.  My fingers are feeling much better and using the compound seems to have helped the issues I had over the summer.  I have to see the doctor again and have updated X-rays done to see if the calcium deposits are really smaller or gone but my fingers in general really feel much better.

As many of you know I am completely committed to my yoga practice and teaching these days so although my steps are right where they need to be I am not focusing on walking, spinning, or other cardio activities as much right now.  I am in the yoga studio or at home doing yoga every day and that takes a lot of time.  I was listening to a podcast the other day that said don’t let hobbies get in the way of people, relationships and family.  I think my husband would whole heartily agree with that statement but also realizes that I need to take this time now to establish myself as a yoga instructor so I can do more with it in my future and see where this may take me.  I love teaching, I love learning and I love doing yoga so all in all it was the best decision for me to make at this time in my life.

I do hope to find a nice balance between my yoga, cardio, weight training and of course my family and friends.  If only I could get my husband to join me in doing yoga I would be able to spend time with him while we did yoga but that is not likely for at least for the near future.  Perhaps as we move forward into our mid-lives it will inspire him to stay flexible and work on yoga for his body and mind.  Speaking of mind, my meditation practice is dialed and do get a few moments every day to sit quietly and just breathe.  There has been some research recently that states that a daily meditation practice could help with autoimmune diseases and chronic pain.  Find ways to relieve stress and finding ways to ensure that I don’t get over fatigued greatly helps with my MCTD and chronic pain, therefore, meditation is a great tool for both of those things.

With 242 days behind me I forget that I even have MCTD some days but I am also not new to having a long stretch being flare-up free and then having that flare that takes me back to zero.  I half expect it any day but I also don’t expect it to ever come again.  As we age and our hormones change that can also help with reducing the frequency of flares, good sleep, moderate eating, reducing stress, mindful activity, giving and receiving love and peace all help in managing the symptoms of autoimmune diseases.

I look forward to my next doctor appoint to see where my numbers are and what my X-rays look like and can make adjustments from there, but until then I will continue to do what I do and hope for many more flare up free days.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR

Today is the start of a brand new year and I’m very excited about what 2016 has to offer. I had such wonderful moments in 2015 and achieved some amazing goals as well as ended the year on a healthy note.  I am 187 days without a flare and my hope is that I can reach a year.

I received my yoga teaching certification and have 2 classes a week that I’m teaching along with a full time career so if I had more time I would certainly devote more to teaching yoga. This past year I have developed a daily yoga practice with a daily meditation practice and if nothing else I think those 2 things have me healthier and stronger.

I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions but I haven’t in many many years because I prefer to have goals and plans in which to achieve those goals. I once heard that goals without a plan are simply dreams and I have dreams too of course the things I believe might be achievable but yet I still question the likelihood and wonder how.  My goals are achievable and even if they take time I will get there.

The most important people in my life make my life what it is and how special it is. I have an amazing husband that makes this life so wonderful and he is truly my biggest supporter. My family is amazing and extremely supportive as well. My sister is home for Christmas and came to one of my yoga classes. It was truly so wonderful to have her there and watch her practice my yoga sequence. I have 2 nephews that I can’t wait to see what they learn and teach me in 2016. They are growing up so fast and I still don’t know where 5 years have gone.  I adopted 2 kittens from Tennessee for my birthday back in Oct and they have been with us 10 weeks, they literally make me smile every single day since they have been here.  They bring a spirit and life to our home that is so much fun.   They are sisters but nothing alike, perhaps they found each other on the truck from Tennessee to Maine and just clicked, perhaps they are truly sisters, all I know is that they love each other so much even though they are truly so different and they love my husband and I even more. Sounds silly and probably makes us sound like the couple without kids so we love our kittens and maybe so but they are wonderful and yet still allow me hours to do my yoga, spinning, weight training, walking and other activities. However, they do climb in my lap during meditation so part of my practice is disconnect from them for that time, I don’t make them move I make my mind believe they have moved.  It’s working so I let it be.

I hope this year brings you exactly what you need and although when we wake up today and believe since it is a new year it means a new start, you can wake up each day and start again, fresh and new and have a clean slate every day.

MAKING IT THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS

I made it through the first of several eating holidays.  At this point I pretty much have the gluten free plate figured out at Thanksgiving and splurge on the gluten rich pie.  Since I don’t over indulge in the dinner festivities and I don’t participate in any of the wine or alcohol festivities I can splurge where I really want to which is the delicious plate featuring small slivers of several different pie flavors.  Smothered in whipped cream which is gluten free so the more the merrier.

My Thanksgiving day included a 60 min spin, 90 min Vinyassa yoga and 90 Bikram class all before noon when it was time to re-fuel my body with moisture white turkey meat, mashed cauliflower, a beautiful assortment of roasted root vegetables and small taste of the ever so sweet potato mash.  My husband stays home doing the cooking while I’m out burning those calories making room to replenish them.  It works out well and has been a tradition now for 12 years since we have been married.

The next Holiday is our Christmas season which isn’t just 1 or 2 days like the calendar states but instead 5 weeks of fun filled eating, drinking, fire side chats, family gatherings and company holiday parties.  Again I have this pretty well figured out and I do not commit to every single occasion that is offered between now and Jan 3rd.  I have my limits of what my body is capable of.  I try and do all the right things most of the time so I can enjoy some later than normal evenings with holiday cheer and chats.

I have been doing a lot of yoga teaching which is truly so fulfilling. I knew I loved yoga and knew I wanted to teach but I didn’t know exactly how much my soul would be filled by teaching.  I’m taking care of myself while taking care of others during our yoga classes and taking time when I need to rest and recoup.  Which means that my activity level is still pretty low outside yoga but that is ok for now and I don’t want to over do it.

 

Weekly stats

Total 79,645

Daily Average – 11,378

Miles – 31.12

Floors – 156

WEEKLY STATS

Here we are in a new month, ready to embark on new challenges and enjoy the summer.  In Maine summer comes late and leaves way too early so this is the month that we really enjoy water, sun and fun.  My steps this past week are an indicator of how much fun I have in the summer time and how much I enjoy being outside walking, riding, playing golf and other activities.  The unfortunate part is that it is hard for me to be inside a yoga studio this time of year unless I have to be so I have taken my mat outside to do my practicing when able.  The summer is short and I want to enjoy each day that I can.

Weekly Stats – 133,813

Daily Average – 19,116

Miles – 51.80

Floors – 239

That is probably the biggest week I have had in a long time and was not participating in any challenges just participating in life.

TIS THE SEASON FOR STRESS

First things first, here are my weekly Fitbit stats.

Total steps week = 88,338

Average daily steps = 12,620

Miles walked = 33.78

Average number of floors climbed = 130

On with the stress. Everyone looks forward to spending the holidays with loved ones, sharing food, laughing over drinks, spreading the cheer and engaging in the stories but when we are out and about it seems as though everyone is stressed.  More than just stressed they also seem incredibly tired and completely worn thin.  This is the season when we do way too much and somehow completely forget how to say no.  I bring this up because for the readers with MCTD you only have so much energy to give on any particular day so finding extra energy can be really difficult.  I know from experience that it is very hard to say no to one more get together, one more fire side chat, one more “this is really important” dinner with either friends or family and one more “I could really use your help shopping” so give yourself permission to say no.

No one wants to disappoint people on any given day but certainly no one wants to disappoint our loved ones during this season.  They have been there for you and helped you through some really challenging, scary, tough times so you feel as though you want to thank them and by doing so you end up doing too much.  Remember these very people that were there during your challenging times also realize that your bodies run out of energy very quickly and not putting yourself first could end you up very tired or even in bed with a flare.

I’m not saying use your MCTD as an excuse, but I do think that putting yourself above all others for a few moments each day to assess how are you feeling on this day, what kind of energy do you have, how much do you really have to do and how much can you actually do are very important questions to ask.

I have been living with and managing MCTD for 11 years and still after all this time I have to pick and choose the important times and yes there are times when I run myself into the ground but getting back up takes me a little bit longer so there are consequences for those actions.  My family is the last group of people who want to see me stressed, over tired and just making it through the day so they are also the first ones to give me the break of not participating and staying home to rest.  The rest of the world doesn’t even see me with an illness most of the time so when I tell them no I see the perplexed looked on their faces but I have nothing to explain or defend.

Getting to a place in your life when you can truly own your decisions and feel good about the decisions you make is unbelievable and it didn’t come to me over night. It came to with each flare and each recovery.  Although my base line is different and my endurance is better I still feel fatigue and when I do I have no one to blame but myself for not reading the signs and listening to my body the way I should.  I am going to get through this season, all the crazy hours, eating, drinking, song singing flare-up free but only because I have found my active listening skills and really worked to listen to my body and know when it is time to say No.  We believe we may miss something, but if you are in bed with a flare you are 100% certain to miss something.  Keep yourself well, forgive yourself if you over-do it and send yourself compassion if you do flare.  With each flare and recovery you will find the skills needed to read the signs and react in a way that helps your body.

The season is supposed to be fun so try to keep the stress of it down to a low roar.  Happy Holidays.

BIKRAM YOGA

Each year the Bikram studio holds a 2 hour class with music on Thanksgiving morning.  I have been doing this for many years and it really just starts my day off right. I am no longer a member at that studio but I knew I wanted to be part of the Bikram festivities again this year.  The class is a donation class so all the money went to the food pantry which is very fitting for a Thanksgiving practice.  Here is how the day went and what a day it was.  In Maine we got a foot of snow Wed night into Thursday morning which meant that Matthew and I had to get up around 4:30 and start snow blowing and shoveling ourselves out.  At 6:30am he started the turkey. Our 26 lbs. bird was beautiful and we know well loved.  As a thank you to the bird we used the whole thing but more on that later.  As my handsome husband donned his favorite apron and got started in the kitchen I made my way out into the snow winter wonderland first for an exercise and weight training session followed by my 2 hour Bikram class.  I had not been in a Bikram studio since June of this year and I did not know what to expect.  I figured I would just treat this class like I did all my other classes in the past so I wore my long pants, long shirt and small jacket to make sure I was warm.  I found a great spot near the heat up at the mirror.  2 things struck me immediately, the first is that the room is so bright and second is that mirror is there to show every flaw and mis-step.  At one time I enjoyed the mirror and being able to see myself but for some reason I didn’t like it this time. Maybe after spending so much time on my mat just feeling, I didn’t really want to see.  There was music playing so that was a nice change since there is usually no music in a standard Bikram class.  This was a fusion class with the 26 postures mixed in, but we also did vinyassa work which was really challenging in the heat.

I love the heat, always have and probably always will but going from head up to the head down was really hard and made me a little bit dizzy.  Nothing that I couldn’t control but I did wonder if there were any new people in the class and how they were fairing.  We hit all the major 26 postures and took the entire 2 hours to complete our moving meditation.  I was so hot, tired, and totally spent but also felt so incredibly good.  I forgot how absolutely wonderful being that hot and sweat can actually feel.  After it was all said and done I was ready to join my husband back at home to finish our thanksgiving preparations.

He had it all finished and off to my parent’s house we went, 26 lbs. turkey in hand with pies, and cranberry sauce.  Once we got there everyone was so pleased with how the bird looked and especially how it tasted.  We sliced up the organ meat and put that out as well and everyone devoured it.  We didn’t want our little bird to go to waste so we ate the entire thing.  He was so delicious and I think we have made our mark on the family that getting our meats from the nearby farm where they are truly loved, well taken care of and especially well fed naturally is the best for the animals and us.  My husband did a marvelous job with that bird and has been crowned the chef to do it each and every year from here on out but I don’t know that he really wants that responsibility.  The day was stress-free, so enjoyable and I ate guilt free since I had just put in my time at the gym and Bikram mere hours before.

YOGA KIDS

Yesterday I got to combine two of my favorite things, which include yoga and my nephew. At the yoga studio I attend they started a yoga kids program called mat pack which allows children ages 3-6 to come participate with their moms, dads, or my case aunties and enjoy some yoga, fun, a little focus and deep breathing for about 30-45 minutes depending on what they can endure.

I was already there taking my own class so when that ended I ran downstairs to grab him as my sister-in-law dropped him off and up the stairs to the yoga studio we went. I had a fun mat for him that had a tree on it with bright colors so he could call the mat his own and start to get familiar with it. At first he just thought it was a big studio to play in and kind of it is but we needed to bring a little focus into the group as well

The instructor gave him a bell to ring while he told the class his name and my favorite part was he introduced himself as “engineer Eli” since he loves trains so much that is what he has started to call himself. The brain of a 4 year old is amazing, and honest, and incredibly imaginative which I love. After we were done with introductions we started by singing a little song, moving our bodies and learning to breath deep in a very fun way. The class went on with building blocks and with 4 year old’s knocking them down! We sang more songs, and even attempted head stands on the wall. The fearlessness in this kid is incredible and I envy how trusting he is of his little body and those around him that he knows will protect him. He did great.

We did some swimming on our bellies while laying on the mats and even allowed for some natural movement in the little bodies. Their bodies are made to play, explore, squat, full forward bends and even full backward bends. If we all had the flexibility as we age that we start with when we are small our bodies would not feel pain, discomfort, tightness or unease. The sad reality is that we do tighten up and stop using our bodies in that trusting way as we age but hopefully with kids starting their yoga practices earlier we can keep them limber.

He did so amazingly well and wants to continue so this will become a weekend favorite for us to get together as auntie and nephew and find our balance, increase our love, and keep our flexibility on our mats together.