Look Up

On December 8, 2017, in BLOG, by brendajohima

Look up.

Shut down that phone, look up from that display.

We have a finite existence, a set number of days …

This is a re-post from 2014 but doesn’t hurt to repeat something that seems to just get worse as time passes by; our disconnection from ourselves and from other human beings.

Look Up. Shut Down That Display.

Always Love,
Brenda

 

Fibromyalgia : A Pain In The Everywhere (part 2)

On November 29, 2017, in BLOG, Fibromyalgia, by brendajohima

Fibromyalgia; you are what you eat, right?

Well, not so simple, as those of us who live with this syndrome, know all too well.

If you are like me, one who has tried to cure herself of fibromyalgia (for 17+ years), you have tried almost every diet, almost every exercise type, breathing, meditation, medication, yoga, you may have tried as I have : no sugar, no dairy, no wheat, no gluten, no soy, no coffee, the NO Everything Life. Was it fun? NO.

Living with, and managing fibromyalgia can be a full-time job.

Acceptance isn’t a one time thing, it’s ongoing, as the symptoms with this syndrome change regularly, and daily, and even throughout the day. We never know what we are going to get.

What is fact about fibromyalgia? It’s predictably unpredictable, and that’s the only thing you can count on. Living in the unknown and with the unknowable, and accepting that, is key, I have learned and continue to learn.

(* Disclaimer : I am not a medical professional, consultant or expert. This is my own personal journal of thoughts and writings and I’m not providing any recommendations or medical advice. Please make sure you do what works for YOU only and only what is right and safe for you personally. I am just sharing my personal experience at this moment in  time.  Listen to your gut, smarts and heart, and, seek out the professional advice your physician, a medical expert, a registered nurse, a counsellor, psychologist, naturopathic physician, homeopath, your local hospital or otherwise. Thanks!)

So back to diet. Yes, I have pretty much tried it all, yet I never give up, and I keep on trying different things, and even going back to things that didn’t work in past. Why go back to that which did not work before? Simple. Our bodies are in constant flux, ever-changing and ever-healing if we persist and remain open to a healing force. And why not try what didn’t work in past? It might work this time, I think to myself.

Most recently, even though it was no fun in past nor initially, I have gone back to trying: no sugar, no wheat, no dairy, NO EGGS, minimal to no grains, and minimal fruits. Being a self-professed-fruit-a-holic, fruit was hard to give up.

(and yes, no to alcohol … I rarely drank anyway so that was easy) 

That’s a lot to leave out.

What the heck am I eating?

Lots of vegetables, my only fruits are berries only for the most part, nuts and seeds, legumes and some meats in very tiny small amounts (I am not 100% vegan yet) and vegan protein powder. Drinks include coconut milk and almond milk.

The key to every breakfast is a greens smoothie with mixed berries, lemon juice and a plant-based protein powder. Currently I am using Iron Vegan Sprouted Protein Powder and I LOVE it. For many many years prior, I was using a whey protein, Genuine Health Proteins+ and I loved it, but it was time for a change.

My current raw vegan protein powder has LESS protein than the whey product, by a lot; almost 10 grams protein less per serving (17 grams currently vs. 26 grams prior) however, so far I haven’t suffered as a result, and it seems to be adequate for my current activity levels.

As a result of my strict food lifestyle, over the last couple of months I have reaped the benefits from my hard work on diet, with way less pain, less inflammation, feeling lighter inside, more fluidity in movement (not quite so stiff), ability to think more clearly, ability to complete mental tasks more easily, improved mood, not as much brain fibro-fog.

Am I cured of fibromyalgia? Not yet. However, I have been able to reduce pain medications significantly and I just FEEL BETTER. That is good enough for now. I am thrilled.

Immediate improvements were felt when I first removed eggs completely from my diet. Eggs hadn’t agreed with me for many years prior, but it was an easy and quick meal and protein source, so I kept doing it. Note to Self and Others : if something swells up your stomach like a balloon right after you eat it, it cannot be good for you 🙂

(why do we, I, you, keep doing what we know isn’t good for us? … have you asked yourself?)

Is it a bummer to have to give up SO much of everything that other “normal” people without fibromyaligia can have? NO, not really. It is my life, and I only get one of them to live, so for me, doing anything and everything to reduce suffering and physical pain, is my job, to make my life better, to be able to do more, and to enjoy this precious life we have been given.

To those out there who suffer, and to those who are at the beginning of their fibromyalgia diagnosis, my heart goes out to you, as I know what it is like to live with 24/7 disabling pain and fatigue. Never give up. Never give up. You are loved. You WILL get through this. Be gentle with yourself, rest as much as you can, and take one baby step at a time. Ignore those who do not understand, as only YOU know your pain levels and what you are able to do, day to day. Pace yourself, and keep on learning greater self-love … that is a lifelong journey, for us all.

And for those of us further along the healing journey? Help those who need us, when you are able. Share your wisdom, your love, encouragement and support. Let each of us not be alone with this fibro-thing.

Oh Nuts, yeah, sometimes you have to give up a lot to gain a lot to be healthy.

Always Love,
Brenda

 

 

 

 

Walk the Same Trail

On November 28, 2017, in BLOG, by brendajohima

… see something new every time.

Beauty abounds, all year long. I have photographed this exact spot a zillion times.

This morning, something new once again, and the texture, complexity, depth of layers, color, line and light all added up to a welcoming opening to walk through.

Nature never disappoints.

Always Love,

Brenda

 

S.A.D.

On November 26, 2017, in BLOG, by brendajohima

For those of us who live with gray skies winters and lots of rain instead of blue skies, snow and sun, or better yet, the warmth and sun of tropical locations, may experience S.A.D. and/or full blown depression and everything in between that makes us feel not so great.

(* Disclaimer : I am not a medical professional, consultant or expert. This is my own personal journal of thoughts and writings and I’m not providing medical advice or recommendations. Please make sure you do what works for YOU only and only what is right and safe for you personally. Please seek out the professional advice of a counsellor, your physician, psychologist, local hospital or otherwise. Thanks!)

I resisted purchasing light therapy for years! However, as last winter was my worst winter on Vancouver Island since 1999, it had me saying this year, “enough!” No more suffering through the fall and winter. The other day after being spurred on by a SAD Light Twitter Conversation with some online pals, I decided that very moment to go out and to finally purchase one; a S.A.D. light.

The one in the tweet above, wasn’t available, and in being in a rush to get started, long story short, after much online research and in-person shopping, I settled on the Philips GoLITE Blue (HF3422/60) which I purchase at my favourite store, London Drugs! (and NO these aren’t affiliate links or a promotional post; I don’t get paid by anybody to say this, I am simply sharing what works for me, and maybe it will help somebody else)

There may be better light therapy products out there and there certainly are bigger ones, but for me, for many reasons, this one is perfect for my needs.

Did it work? Does it work? Or is it all hype?

Some may not believe me, but being the super-hypersensitive person that I am, I felt the effects immediately!

On day one, I was literally running around doing my tasks first thing in the morning. My mood definitely was right away better and I had higher and more sustained energy levels throughout the day without a doubt. Day One.

Yes, these things work! (at least for me)

So far this has continued each and every day that I use it; improved physical energy, ability to complete (physical and mental) tasks better, improved mood, and I mentally and emotionally just feel BETTER.

First thing I do when I wake up is I turn on the light, still while in bed; and guess what? In no time, you don’t want to stay in bed! Up and at ’em! Time to get moving!

Then I bring it into the kitchen with me and put the light on again while I make my morning greens, mixed berries and protein smoothie in the blender.

If this trend continues, I’ll be able to breeze through the gray skies Island winter this year, energized! Fingers crossed.

Always Love,Brenda

 

 

I have recently taken on learning ukulele and am totally enjoying being a beginner. LOVE being a beginner!

When you have been an accomplished singer/musician in past, perfectionism can creep in and paralyze, if you have been away from music for a long time like I have been.

This is why in part, I chose ukulele. I have not played a ukulele since maybe grade 4? (in what grade did we learn ukulele?) I have no clue how to play one and that is refreshing and freeing.

One other reason I chose ukelele is I that love Hawaii! … but also, the ukulele is such an incredibly HAPPY instrument, and I find that, as many others do, for me it is impossible to stay sad, depressed, lonely, or to experience any negative emotion, and play the ukulele at the same time.

I am loving the journey so far, I have a long ways to go, and for now my ukulele playing is just for me and for only in private, but what I can share, is my JOY in that I started.

I encourage everybody to be a beginner at something, anything; it’s good for the brain, heart and soul.

And so I leave you with a beautiful rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole with his ukulele.

Always Love,
Brenda

 

Just Be YOU

On November 24, 2017, in BLOG, by brendajohima

 

Thank You

On November 24, 2017, in BLOG, by brendajohima

Thank you for blue skies.
Thank you for the sun.
Thank you for the forests.
Thank you for the sea.
Thank you for the rivers.
Thank you for the creeks.
Thank you for the rain.
Thank you for fresh air.
Thank you for the earth and for the soil.
Thank you for fire that cleanses and offers renewal.
Thank you for plentiful and fresh clean drinking water.

As I spend so much time in nature on Vancouver Island with my dog Teddy, I am blessed with a state of gratitude daily. It is impossible to not feel grateful amongst the green lush foliage and greenery of a West Coast rain forest when walking in it. The greens alone, are healing, a visual paradise for all of the senses, heart and soul.

Alongside gratitude, is peace, should we choose it.

Today, may we promote peace, compassion and kindness for all beings. May we have strength the wisdom to bring goodwill to all we meet.

Always Love,
Brenda

 

I Can’t Thank You Enough

On November 23, 2017, in BLOG, by brendajohima

Carly Simon and Ben Taylor say it (and sing it) best.

I can’t thank you enough.

Always Love,

Brenda

 

Infuse Your Life With Action

On November 22, 2017, in BLOG, by brendajohima

“Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.”

—Bradley Whitford

 

Dealing with chronic pain tough but it can be done

On November 19, 2017, in BLOG, by brendajohima

(repost from a 2011 article that I wrote)

Let’s face it. Being in constant pain is no fun.

For those of us who live 24/7 with the chronic pain of fibromyalgia, there is usually a desperation to find something, anything that will relieve us of the seemingly never-ending pain.

I’ve been living with fibromyalgia and chronic pain since June 28, 2000, as a direct result of a car accident on Cliffe Avenue in Courtenay.

There is no cure for fibromyalgia (yet) and no, it is not all in my head.

And chronic pain? Well, I’m not alone there either.

  • *One in five Canadians suffer from chronic pain, children are not spared and the prevalence increases with age;
  • Chronic pain is associated with the worst quality of life as compared with other chronic diseases such as chronic lung or heart disease;
  • Chronic pain costs more than cancer, heart disease and HIV combined. Estimates place direct health care costs for Canada to be more than $6 billion per year and productivity costs related to job loss and sick days at $37 billion per year.

(*Phillips and Schopflocher 2008; Schopflocher, Jovey et al. 2010)

My goal is to offer hope, inspiration and encouragement to so many people who suffer with daily pain.

I offer speaking engagements, and am working toward running (not walking) eight kilometres.

One step forward, two steps back — that’s how chronic pain works.

At the moment, I’m getting help from Mia Sutherland (now Mia Jerritt) a medical exercise specialist at the Core Fitness Studio in Comox. Mia’s chronic pain program is superb.

Exercise, although painful, is crucial to happiness, when living with pain.

I believe that too many people who live with chronic pain give up, stop moving, stop trying.

Although I understand (I have been there, and still is there, on many, many days), it breaks my heart, because people just need support. They need people in their cheering section, and to know, that it doesn’t take much movement, to get the ball rolling with movement again to receive some benefit physically, but even more importantly, socially, mentally and emotionally.

I know exercise well, having studied physical education at a university level, and having worked for New Westminster Parks and Recreation for almost 10 years, and having been the co-ordinator for the pilot project for the City of Courtenay’s Prescription For Health Program.

If you are reading this and suffer with chronic pain, and I could say just one thing to inspire you, it is :

Never, Ever, Ever Give Up.

There is always hope.

There is always someone out there who will reach out and give you a hand, if you will receive it.

This class with Mia Sutherland is that hand for me. After 10+ years of living with chronic pain, I know that with fibromyalgia can come anxiety and overwhelming fear, and that to just show up, to get through the door of any fitness program can be hard for many of us, and takes tremendous courage and mental energy.

Maybe if I can share a little of my journey, it might help you walk through the door?

You can do this.

By Brenda Johima

You can find Brenda Johima on Twitter at @brendajohima and on FaceBook at @johima

Photo: Brenda Johima Nordic walking in Paradise Meadows, on Mount Washington.

***

Article Update: Mia Jerritt is now an ACCC & Certified Professional Coach through the International Coaching Federation and owner of Integrated Life Strategies.

 

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