Over the last 10 years as I have walked this incredibly challenging journey of chronic pain and chronic illness I have been blown away at how often people comment or say “are you sick AGAIN”.
The answer to this from someone living with 3 auto immune diseases and pulmonary obstructive airway disease is NO I am just living with chronic disease. This means that my immune system is fighting me constantly. It means that I am susceptible to flares, infections, constant pain and chest infections.
I however don’t “look” sick a lot of the time and I make a conscious effort to get up and keep moving every day. This is not something that is easy to do and is a very challenging journey a lot of the time. It takes a commitment, focus and a deep love for myself to get up and do whatever is possible on any given day.
Chronic pain is just that a constant burning pain that doesn’t go away. It is relentless and can be extremely debilitating. I have days when it takes a lot of self motivation to get up and move as sometimes I just want to pull the duvet over my head and not face the world.
At the moment I have a bone in my shoulder that is degenerating, no skin on my feet, bursitis in both my hips, compartment syndrome in my calves and sympathetic reflex dystrophy in my right arm, psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia. It’s a very interesting journey I am walking and it comes with waves of depression, anxiety and frustration.
However I have SO much to be grateful for and I am surrounded by kind, caring and motivational family and friends and a truly amazing therapist who support me and get up and swim in the mornings with me, walk in the evenings with me and just love me warts and all.
So when you feel overwhelmed and challenged put up your hand and ask for help. On the tough days get into nature and embrace its beauty and remind yourself of all the blessings in your life. It really really does help.
After 27 years in the event industry, Covid 19 had brought about a need to reinvent myself and try create ways to cover medical bills . What a journey the last 2 years in particular have been.
Having spent a total of 26 weeks last year and 8 weeks this year in hospital with an onslaught of physical pain I did not believe was possible, I have learnt so much about resilience, humility and the need to take care of ME first.
Watching this crazy pandemic unfold throughout the world has brought home the reality of how the unconscious state of human kind has created the current global experience has been astounding and incredibly humbling.
For me personally with the extreme financial pressure of medical costs and constant battles to manage the brutal auto immune diseases I have, I have had to work out a way to create an extra income. I decided it was time to do something that makes my soul smile and brings joy to me through soul food.
It has been a fun journey creating meals and treats with love and mindfulness. I put my heart into it and believe that food made with love can only bring a smile to your face which for many people over these challenging times has been desperately needed.
I have enjoyed the beauty of nature and all the blessings it offers by getting out into the forests, onto the mountain and into the ocean Tidal pools. Connecting with nature in this way has allowed me to clear and calm my mind and remain focused.
I am truly thankful that I have the family and friends, who have supported me and ordered from me and backed me in every way possible to help me get through these challenges.
I am truly blessed to have the most remarkable house keeper helping me to create new recipes and being there foe me on my worst pain days. She has been a real lifesaver and we are excited about taking our cooking journey further.
The greatest teaching I have had this year is that you can do anything with the right support and complete belief in yourself and your ability to get back up and re-invent yourself if need be.
So as you start your day, ask yourself is what I am doing in the best interest of my mental and emotional well being? And if not simply do not give it your energy. If it is embrace it with both arms and be grateful for it.
As most of you will know from reading my blog I have 3 Auto-Immune diseases, one of which has caused me to have a number of respiratory issues. When news of Covid-19 hitting our shores broke, I must be honest I was completely petrified as the risk if I got the virus was truly life threatening.
The impact of the disease on my business and personal life was catastrophic and pretty daunting to say the least. As I struggle with my chest over winter, with most winters resulting in hospital stays of up to 6 weeks at a time, I found myself becoming overwhelmed with Fear.
I then had to take a hard look at how I was going to survive not only Covid-19 but the fear and feeling of being overwhelmed.
In times of stress and anxiety my go to has always been to get out into the fresh air or to jump into the ocean or on my Standup Paddleboard and just take the time in Nature to allow my mind the space to think.
The first 2 weeks of our stage 5 lockdown I was in hospital as I had pneumonia. It was pretty horrendous and extremely taxing on the mind being completely isolated from my family and friends. In total I spent 4.5 weeks in hospital completely isolated for 3.5 of them. It was incredibly challenging for me. However as always I had incredible support from my tribe and got by on Zoom calls.
Coming home was a blessing but again pretty terrifying as I was now alone at home and isolated again as I am high risk. I don’t know that I have ever experienced such a deep sense of fear and loneliness. I am blessed to have an amazing support system and my family and friends all did drop offs of food and delivered Lattes and so much love to my door.
This time gave me space to reflect and deal with the last 18 months of trauma in my life and face it head on. I had been through 5 surgeries, a few resuscitations, a home robbery and the loss of my brother all during those 18 months. What a crazy time. I feel like the enforced lockdown made it impossible to block any emotions from these experiences out.
Having owned and run an event business for the last 21 years, lockdown and Covid-19 brought another challenge when it completely shut down the Event Industry. My brain went into complete WTF mode. I was scrambling for solutions and ways in which I could reinvent myself and see some kind of hope for the future.
What I did discover was that mental clarity and a focus on mental wellbeing over this time was key. I realised that unless I got up and out of my home and into fresh air and nature I was literally going to sink deeper into a depression. I had unfortunately come out of hospital and taken a bad fall down the stairs at my house and had broken the bone on the arch of my foot. It was extremely painful but I thought it was just sprained.
I decided to keep walking and even though I had to wrap up warm and make sure I was safe, I got up every morning at 6am and started walking. Fortunately the 5km from my house include, ocean, mountains and forests. I could only do the ocean options for the first 2 months as the forests were closed to exercise and so were the beaches.
I am busy working out what the path forward is and how I can reinvent myself and what great teachings I can take from this time of separation and isolation. I am focused on embracing a new way of being and truly being grateful for the abundance of blessings I have in my life. I am doing my best to support small businesses and people doing all they can to stay afloat financially.
I had to do things that I could control as so little was in my control. What I could control was getting up and exercising and ensuring I was getting the best possible nutrition and supplements to remain as healthy as possible over these times. I have found that my walks and connection with the beauty of where I live have helped me to find greater clarity and purpose.
I can’t say that I have all the answers and I can’t pretend there is not still fear and anxiety, but I can say that by focusing on my mental and physical wellbeing I am certainly coping much better.
I have managed to shed 24.5 kilograms and I have created the foundation to my crazy cookery series Gooi en Steek – Cooking Tips for Kitchen Warriors. I am focused on bringing this to life now and sharing my fun, healthy, easy recipes with folk around the world.
So today when you get up and start you day instead of plugging into the endless stats and fake news fear based reading, rather sit down and plan your life and your business first. As until you are calm and have order you will continue to spin out in chaos.
This week I confronted one of my greatest fears. I started to study again. Throughout my school career, studying was a big challenge for me. I had a learning disability and found studying hard when I had to read large amounts of material.
I have always been a visual and auditory learner and therefore the thought of taking on an 10-week Digital Marketing course was both terrifying and exciting. I however decided to put on my big girl panties and jump in with both feet.
As I opened the first lesson I felt overwhelmed by the amount of reading and information I needed to get through and started to doubt my decision. I then stopped myself and remembered a great article I had read the week before about how we process fear and how to over come it. I remembered how this article spoke about creating acronyms from words to shift the way you think about them.
I looked at the word FEAR and decided to break it down and shift the meaning to help me whenever I got a fearful feeling. I did this by creating my own acronym. F = Focused E= Energy A= Activates R= Results. This allowed me to create a positive association with my fear. As I start to feel anxious or overwhelmed I just repeat this acronym like a mantra.
It really has helped me during this first week. While I am not saying I am not still very nervous but now I am just more focused on activating results. In life I believe we often shy away from taking a chance or stepping into something that is challenging as we are afraid of failure, however if we don’t take a chance and just do it, we will never grow.
So as you start your day today think about what it is that you have always wanted to try and have been too afraid to do and just do it!
This year has been a brutal year for me. I have faced some of the scariest most humbling experiences of my life. I have spent nearly 15 weeks in hospital with a number of complications and challenges. I was gassed and robbed in my home and then I lost my brother who was, and always will be my hero.
On Monday 7th of October I stood up in court and testified against the people who robbed me and finally my body said ENOUGH! An overwhelming sense of anxiety and a feeling of complete desperation flooded over me. It all felt like every part of me was unravelling rapidly. I felt terrified and exhausted and basically like I had reached the limit of what I could take.
There are many people in this world who can relate to panic attacks and anxiety and the overwhelming feeling of deep grief. And there are so many people who don’t reach out and ask for help in this situation, however my greatest teaching this year has been to just put up my hand and ask for help.
As a society we have developed a belief system that we need to constantly put on a brave face and pretend to be ok in order to make other people comfortable, when actually we just need to own the emotions we are feeling however scary and real they are.
To be brave is to know when you need help. To be brave is to ask for help and say I am not ok. I am not coping and I feel like I am drowning. There is such societal stigma around depression and anxiety that many people don’t speak out and ask for help and that is a very dangerous thing.
The fear of judgement and rejection is so great that people often feel it’s better to pretend they are fine and hide behind a mask than to face the gruelling journey of unpacking and healing the parts that feel broken inside. I have learnt this year that no matter how much I have tried to put on my big girl panties and pull myself towards myself, I have struggled to keep it to together.
The combination of traumas I have experienced both physically and emotionally compounded and my body simply said no more. I became anxious and had massive panic attacks and realised that this was not something I could simply “will” myself through.
I have had to face the fact that I have full blown PTSD and that the best healing was to face all the scary stuff in a supportive way through counselling. I have had to realise that no matter how much my logical, analytical brain is trying to be “FINE”, I am not fine and am taking strain.
A deep deep sadness enveloped me and it feels like I have lost my joy. I put one foot in front of the other on a daily basis while at times feeling completely numb. There are so many moments that have flashed in front of me from this year that have shaken me to the core and unbalanced me as I don’t like being out of control. It’s an extremely uncomfortable place for me.
I apologise if my vulnerability and humanity makes you uncomfortable and disengaging but I really don’t care. You see I choose to feel the roller coaster of emotions and rather understand with true courage and conviction what it is to live through these great challenges.
I choose to confront all that makes me uncomfortable and feel off kilter. I am fully aware that I am not my “old” self but that I am just who I am and the best part of me is that I feel deeply and care deeply.
While my generosity and willingness has at times seemed like a dumping ground for bullshitters, con artists and narcissists, I am choosing to no longer be that dumping ground. I am a real fan of Brené Brown and while reading her book Rising Strong I discovered a paragraph that resonated with me and helped me to realise that it’s ok to not be ok.
“The opposite of recognising that we are feeling something is denying our emotions. The opposite of being curious is disengaging. When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; instead, they own us, they define us. our job is not to deny the story, but defy the ending – to rise strong, recognise our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. this is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how the story ends.”
So as you start your day don’t forget to be curious and check in with where you are emotionally, physically and mentally and never to the disservice of yourself by masking your vulnerability and truth as in the end the only person it harms is you.
To say the last 9 months have been like a living hell for me feels like an understatement. My silence on my blog has been a reflection of where I have been mentally and emotionally and how I have struggled to find the light and sense through the pain and chaos. I feel that there is so much pain and chaos on our planet that I was not able to write. I needed to find a space to see the teaching to find the reasoning to understand the journey before I could share it.
Living with a combination of Auto Immune diseases has been my challenge for 9 years and has tested my inner most strength to the core. The last 9 months has however been next level and a challenge that at times has felt all consuming. I have been through so much trauma to my body both mentally and physically and at times have felt like I was in a tumble dryer with nails.
During the last 9 months I have had 4 surgeries been resuscitated a few times and have hung on for dear life through some of the most incredible pain I have ever felt. The physical pain has felt like an onslaught that is beyond comprehension however none of this could prepare me for the greatest pain of all. The loss of my brother, My hero and one of the kindest people I was blessed to know has floored me completely.
Being a perfectionist and someone who believes that everything that happens in life does so for a reason and is a teaching, I am struggling to come to grips with this tragic loss. I have fought so hard this year just to keep breathing and keep believing that no matter what everything happens for a reason.
The health stuff for me has been a challenge but the loss of my brother has been utterly devastating. He was the male role model in my life and was my Big brother in every sense. I always felt safe knowing that if anything ever went wrong or if I felt uncomfortable about something I could talk to him with no judgement. He had a great sense of humor and could make me laugh from my belly and was one of the kindest people I knew.
At 46 years old I have experienced loss and death but nothing has felt quite as heartbreaking as losing a sibling. There is no name or description for the loss of a sibling and like most things in life unless it’s your personal loss people move on with their day to day life as normal but as the person who has lost someone everything feels like it is moving in slow motion.
To find hope and faith and continue to believe that everything happens for a reason has been extremely difficult for me over this truly challenging year. I have however discovered one of the greatest teachings that sounds so cliche until you live it and that is who really has your back.
I have discovered that there are many people in this world who profess to care and use spiritual quotes and platitudes to mask the people they really are when in reality the true depth of the person comes in their actions. Actions really do speak louder than words.
I have found that the joy of life and living is about simplicity and surrounding yourself with people and places that add joy to your life and letting go of those that simply drain your energy. I have discovered that while no body is perfect and we all make mistakes it’s essential to understand the meaning of integrity and to choose honesty over what is comfortable to believe or hear.
In the world right now there is a substantial amount of noise and pain. There are some of the most heinous crimes taking place and there is a lot of stress, however there is also SO much to look forward to and believe in.
As I continue my life and wake up every morning to face the world I am learning to do this from a place of self love. A friend of mine posted something the other day that reasonated #FLY (First Love Yourself). And that is what I do every day now. I start my day with a check in. I ask myself if what I am doing is helping me to FLY and if not I just don’t do it.
I know that one of my greatest challenges in my life to date has been trying to keep everyone happy and in the process I forgot about my own happiness. Through the tragedy and deep sense of loss this year I have discovered what is real, necessary and important to me. I have discovered the beauty and joy of being quiet and observing and I have discovered that it’s ok to just not be ok.
So as you start your day today I ask you to start it by checking in with YOU first. Check in and make sure that whatever you do you FLY.
Living in a space where so much in my world is upside down and foreign to me at the moment, I have found an incredible blessing in simply understanding more about my boundaries. I have found a way of confronting the awkward gut feelings and intuition we all have and just owning exactly what I feel in the moment. I have confronted that saying there is always a reason for everything in life and have had endless hours of lying in bed to understand what that really means.
Being authentic and real at all times is not often the popular choice but when you are facing your mortality on a daily basis it becomes your reality. I have never been known to suffer fools easily but in the same sense I have been a truly generous, eager to help a good cause in any way I can kind of person throughout my life.
The thing that has completely floored me over the last 5 months while I have literally died 3 times and stopped breathing on so many occasions is how few people are who they project to the world they are. How few people have a deep sense of community and how to show up and be present in times of crisis.
You see for me I find it simple to show up for the people I care about in my life. It’s how I am made. I am an empath and as my teacher calls me, I am the wounded healer. So I have always been the person who will cook you a meal or pick up your kids or walk your dogs or hold your hand or be your shoulder when it all seems too much to handle. I have always been that person to arrange the get together and rally behind people when they need it most. It’s the way Great Spirit made me.
One of my most dear and special friends said to me the other day. Tell me how you feel. Tell me what I can do, how I can help and what it is you need during this time as I see you are feeling frustrated. I just broke down in tears and said Thank you. Thank you for taking the time to ask. Thank you for taking the time to not assume and thank you for taking the time to just show up.
Living with the latest results and the diagnosis I recently received has meant that I am very isolated and doing anything requires planning and consideration of what environment I am going to, what I may be exposed to and how long I will last where I am going before I will need to leave. Every inch of who I have been for the last 46 years is being tested and changed and I am mourning parts of myself that I have to let go of as I am no longer that person. That is just my reality.
I have learnt more about looking at the world and people that I share my energy and heart with from a very different angle. With the current global energy and various levels of unrest and challenges there comes a time when the distribution of your energy is needed for a more focused cause. And being available to everyone and helping every cause is no longer possible. But the greatest challenge has been discovering quite brutally I might add how few of the “Friends” in my life have shown up and been present. And the acceptance and release of that everything is always as it should be. The initial heartache of the loss of the people you believed to be your friends who you have stood by through thick and thin just don’t step up to the plate.
I have discovered a great teaching on this 9 year journey but particularly over the last 5 months. And that is there are people who need you to fit in particular box for them to be comfortable. That box is one of the high energy, enthusiastic, always available listening and shoulder to lean on friend. However when you can’t be all that to them as you are fighting to survive it’s amazing to discover who really does have your back when the chips are down.
My spiritual teachings remind me that everyone comes into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Some people come into our lives to teach us something and once we have learnt it they are no longer in our lives and some people come into our lives for a lifetime and these are the people that show up in the toughest of times. These are the people who walk their talk. The people who don’t have to be by your side all the time but who are conscious enough to just drop you a call or send you a message.
You see to show up and be present for me requires very little more than just sending me a message to say thinking of you. Sending love. It’s not a big ask and it costs very little in time or money but makes the world of difference to someone isolated and feeling very alone to know that they are loved and validated in some way. We all need to be validated on some level it’s a human disposition.
The material over commercialized stuff that people give so much time to and invest so much energy into really doesn’t matter when it comes to the crunch. What matters is your sense of determination, and your self value.
What matters is how you treat people and when you look at how you treat people it is important to remember is not to have a vested interest in how those people treat you in return. Life is flawed by one core thing that creates numerous misconceptions and many a disappointed people. It’s called expectation. We all have certain preconceived expectations of people whether they are conscious of it or not. The challenge lies in having these expectations and not communicating them. How is that we can expect anyone to understand what our expectations are unless we make them clear.
We have all invested way too much of our lives as slaves to a system that is so unbelievably inept and dysfunctional in so many ways that it has created this hamster wheel of stress.
We as the human race have treated the earth and all the blessings of natural resources freely available to us with such gluttony and greed that the damage is now at a point where the earth is fighting back! Natural disasters are the earths way of culling over populated areas. We have no one to blame for this but ourselves and the complete overconsumption and desire for more. When is it enough. When do we as the human race WAKEUP. When do we stand up and say enough is enough.
Well I am standing up and I am doing what i can to be the change I seek in the world. I am standing up and working with what makes my soul smile and am connecting with projects that I feel need assistance. I choose to be a person who creates the change she desires in the world. I ask you all to do the same. Set your boundaries, communicate your expectations, do the work and reap the reward be it financially, spiritually or emotionally.
Life is all about seasons reasons and lifetimes. It’s about making a conscious decision to call yourself up on your shit, acknowledge your good and bad traits and honour yourself completely by practising self love. To make this clear self love is the most challenging journey of it all and it will carry many stumbling blocks and challenges but ultimately it is what we all need to embrace as our most important one. As if we do not love ourselves how can it be possible for anyone to love us.
Be who you are authentically and own your space. Love who you are completely and love your space. Stand in the power of self love to the point when your cup overflows, then and only then can you be the vessel for anyone to connect and plug into. And only work with and connect with people who get who you are.
There has come a time our world to reconnect with all that is real, pure and authentic. The time has come to connect to your desired journey and to go out and achieve it. Life is short.
So today when you get up and start you day make your first empowering move with intention and go and vote. Then connect with what makes your soul smile from there on out anything is possible and that too is exactly as it should be.
In keeping with my commitment to myself and my journey of finding the positive in all the challenges and learning from every aspect of this journey with pain, lack of oxygen and infections I am choosing to forge a path of gratitude and peace with it all.
The last 9 years of this interesting life path I have chosen with all its lessons and challenges has been a colourful test of character and at times a test of true grit and faith. Believe me I have encountered some crazy things on this journey. I must however admit that never in the past 9 years have I ever been this physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally challenged. The last 4 months have been like being in a washing machine of spin cycle with nails in it.
I know that many people don’t understand the journey I am walking and my spiritual connection and acceptance of what is happening. I have had some people ask me where is my God to heal you when you need him here now? To this I just smile as he is right beside me holding my hand and giving my mind, body and soul the opportunity to understand the blessing of life.
The Native American people say everything is exactly as it should be right now. So while I have been in what I could consider the eye of a tornado assault on my entire being, I have continued to remind myself of the blessings and wonderful things in my world.
The last 16 days has been another roller coaster ride of complicated blockages, inflammations and challenges on my body that literally pushed part of my gut into my diaphragm, compressed my lung and sent my chronic asthma through the roof. To add more fun and games I was 2 days away from my much needed infusion that keeps the relentless pain away for a bit.
Living with Auto Immune diseases means that your immune system thinks that something in your cellular makeup is a bug that needs to be destroyed and attacks it to illuminate it. It is painful, relentless and challenging on a daily minute by minute basis. It is tiring, frustrating and highly annoying on many levels. But as with everything in life it is one of the greatest teachings you can experience.
The last 4 months, I must admit it really put me into a pragmatic frame of mind and gave me a deep insight into our mortality in this lifetime. It has helped me to focus my energy on people and things coming from an authentic space. It has given me an opportunity to take stoke and evaluate who and what I invest my energy into. This has been both eye opening and heartbreaking on many levels but has been a truly necessary part of the journey.
Part of working with something like this is learning to express what you need and when you need it from the people you love. It is also so important as someone living with Chronic Illness, to accept that the people in your life desperately want to help but can’t do anything and feel helpless at times. It important that when they make suggestions or tell you about a miracle drug or regime they have discovered it’s because they have a need to help to do SOMETHING.
I know that I can be intolerable for my loved ones at times as I am frustrated and mourning parts of who I am and what I used to be able to do while still being completely lucid and mentally aware. I tend to pull into myself as I find it harder sometimes to be vulnerable and let people know that I am terrified and feeling at a loss at times. It’s not easy on any level to face
Being a type A, OCD person who is mostly in charge of what goes on in my world living with a combination of auto immune diseases with its myriad of complications has been my greatest most humbling teaching on the true art of surrendering.
So as I start today listening to the sound of gentle rain, I remind myself of all the incredible blessings I have in my life. The access I have to the best medical professionals and the support of some amazing people. To reflect on this is so important as at times the journey seems relentless.
I ask you today to take time to be thankful for all that brings joy into your life and in the exact same way be thankful for the challenges as without both we have no balance or foundation for true perspective.
Over the last few months as I have been challenged by the physical assault on my body, I have also been blessed with the teaching of more gratitude and humility. I have been utterly devastated by the lack of presence from some people who I have always been there for but at the same time truly thankful for the opportunity to take stock of where I invest my energy.
What has been remarkable for me is that I have found the depth of true kindness and how simply being kind to someone can really change their world. Somewhere along the road consumerism, greed and the absolute obsession with “STUFF” has clouded peoples judgment and created many very self absorbed individuals who don’t see the value in what’s really important.
We live in a world where people feel the need to own, buy and display their success through things and what they have in a material sense. However the real wealth of a person lies within their heart and level of consciousness.
As the current cost of living and financial strains start to put pressure on the material foundations people have built to define their “success” so the cracks are beginning to show. All the stuff in the world means nothing if you have no health and you have no depth of character as all those old beliefs systems are crumbling right now.
There has been a real sense of entitlement and general rude unacceptable behaviour that has started to develop and rear its ugly head on social media and daily life where it is actually astounding to watch. People have stopped communicating from a place of authenticity and have started to simply portray the image and illusion that works best for their “digital image”.
Well I call bullshit on this all. The more my health has been challenged and the more I have had to face what is real and necessary to live a good life the more I am astounded by the complete blatant lack of authenticity in society. Simple things like saying please and thank you and a general sense of community has really lost its direction.
I am blessed to have access to Private Health care not because it was handed to me but because I worked darn hard to make sure I could afford it and I am utterly grateful that I have it as I am able to get the medical attention I need and have the some of the best doctors possible working on my case.
This is not something I take for granted at all. However it has also revealed the complete sense of entitlement so many of the other patients in this Hospital feel and the lack of respect gratitude and appreciation they show the staff working hard to keep them alive or get them better.
Just because you have money or access to Private Health care it does not give you a free pass to rudeness and a sense of entitlement. I personally won’t stand for it anymore and find myself calling people up on their rudeness and behaviour regularly. If we want to be the change we seek in the world we need to create an example to follow and often that means you are swimming against the flow.
So today I ask you to simply consider and be conscious of how you speak to people and think about the tone you are using and call yourself up on your sense of entitlement if you become aware of it.
Believe me I have been rude and spoken terribly to people at times and don’t get it right all the time, but I am making a conscious effort to be more self aware and thinking more before I speak. And when I don’t get it right I have learnt to find the courage to apologise for my behaviour as it costs nothing to admit you were in the wrong.