Our surrender series continues after Oh What A Night!
After being sick the last few days, I was finding it hard to imagine what 2019 will look like. Will I continue doing life with chronic disease? Will Bliss need me less? Will she need me more? Are the whispers I've tucked in my heart even available to me anymore (here)? How am I supposed to do bring a foundation into the world from this space? How do I grow a business to support this foundation from HERE?
Sometimes, I can look back and see where "it" - chronic fatigue syndrome - began. And other times, I can't. I have experienced challenges in my health since childhood. I was on every antibiotic under the sun; I had belly aches day and night (mostly at night). But it wasn't until the pain in my joints showed up that I was disturbed.
It's been 365 days since Melanoma and I parted ways.
If you're new to my posts, I do life with a chronic disease called CFS/ME aka chronic fatigue syndrome, but better explained as systemic exertion intolerance disease. Systemic meaning if any body system o' mine gets taxed, every other system gets taxed too - and the repercussions can be life-limiting. Thousands of people around the globe have CFS/ME too, but somehow my faith, my strength, and my resilience (even here) set me apart. Because through living with chronic disease, I've been able to reach thousands upon thousands with a message of hope.
I have such huge hope, even in the dark, because I know Jesus. And I know Job and Paul and Ruth. And I personally know incredible human beings like my kids who persevere, too.
I think what people focus on so much here - with my wild path - is how I present our pain to the world. Pain is not a new experience for me, but one I've walked since childhood. I have taken charge of my well-being head on and gained numerous healthy coping mechanisms here... but none like the one's I've learned in the last 365 days since Malignant Melanoma was excised from my leg (twice).
In the last 365 days, old coping mechanisms - like self-advocacy and vulnerability - rose up to meet my walk. I've been incredibly honest about my wildness for the last 5 years thanks to an incredible spouse. And I'm great at advocating for what I need here to an eastern or western doc. But the new coping mechanisms that came up, were really, really new. And really, really helpful. You see, because I allow the world to think of me as strong, it's rare that I'm offered support. So I did a new thing in the last 365 days, I stopped waiting for it - and I asked for it. Not just from doctors and therapists (because our daughter's wildness didn't part just because mine became more intense!), but from people - from family and friends and business partners. From my husband. From my church. Interestingly, every person I reached out to rose up to meet my walk, too. Vulnerability with people is transformational. You can absolutely be vulnerable apart from people. Social media allows it! But oh this path with people... it's incredible.
This experience refreshed my perspective on life.
Just the other day, I was listening to a TEDx talk on loneliness. Did you know that it's a leading cause of death? It's the cause of living dead and actual lost lives - and not just from suicide. We are wired to be together. Jesus knew best when he said, "where two or more are gathered," because we need one another for encouragement - and perhaps hope when we've lost it ourselves.
Mind you, I did not lose hope in Melanoma, but before it. Dengue Fever presented like a lion in 2015 and it mauled my high-energy and exuberance. Melanoma gave me my hope fully back. My reliance on Jesus and people became foundational, as my organ systems all went on strike (because that's just how CFS/ME works).
So here's what I want to leave you with today...
Are you being vulnerable in solitude - on social media or at the counselor's office or alone on the pages of your journal? Or are you being vulnerable in really, real life alongside incredible human beings who will love on you (they're out there)?
While I love social media - and as a writer have a strong presence here - and while I love my counselors and therapists and journals, I love being among people who are flawed like me so much more.
My encouragement for you today is the same as last week. Find your tribe. It's necessary. Wholly. Totally. Fully. Hugely. Vitally.
And check back in here when you do.
(I'm cheering you on.)
I love sharing helpful resources! I may also make a small cut that keeps me fully caffeinated and my brain research-packed (because we can't serve from an empty well, and I really love collecting all the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom I can for both of us.) Always, I'll do my best to keep you on the right path, but I'm no doctor even though I play one at home - often - and mostly for myself. Life with CFS sure keeps things interesting! Life with you + CFS keeps things full of JOY, too.
Hey beautiful friends! In today's post we're going to get real. I'm also going to give you a pretty fabulous recipe. (Food is my favorite!)
If we know each other well enough by now, then you probably know I'm always real. But, there are secrets hidden in even the realest lives. Secrets we don't know we hold. And mine?
It is... it was burnout.
I didn't even know this word existed! I've powered through living with a chronic disease, two complicated pregnancies, a sick baby, a special needs baby. I've run a million-dollar business. I have relearned how to walk... twice. And I've fallen straight apart into the depths of a sorrow I (also) didn't know existed.
You see, for so long I hid behind a smile and just crushed life! I mean, what other option do we have? Rest just didn't make sense. And leaning on others? No. Way. Then the "b" word came up in conversation one day with a close friend, as we spoke about my passionless existence. It's not depression, I told her. It might be complacency, I sighed. And then she used the "b" word.
As a special needs mother living with a chronic and sometimes incapacitating invisible disease (chronic fatigue syndrome), burnout bit me in the bottom when I least expected it. After building up that big kind-of-fabulously-successful business, I found myself sick with Dengue Fever. And I found myself advocating for our daughter without rest. (Bliss rocks life like a boss! And also has some pretty hard struggles with anxiety and sensory processing disorder.) It was there - at the corner of sick and exhausted - that I let my business go for a season.
As I read this article from Carey Neiuwhof (a leader I'd like to be more like, if I'm honest), something clicked. I have slowly but surely been coaching again - but slowly is a critical word. Like Carey, it's been a long recovery from burnout. If I'm honest, I'm only 80% there. But what I'm doing with that 80% now... It's incredible. I am reaching for my dreams again! And I'm supporting other amazing women along the way.
I hope you'll go read Carey's article. It's pretty outstanding with lots of tips that I can't give you yet (still human and growing!) You don't need to be perfect to keep moving forward. You just need to be real.
If the "b" word has been holding you back too, let's talk. Shoot me a message or comment below.
Also, try my favorite Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding and let me know what you think! Food can bring such comfort when life is wild, challenging, or just plain hard.
You're not alone, and we're better together.
Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding
Food is so healing. There's something about sitting down with something that I know is going to fuel my precious bod WELL that just brings me so much peace. When I experienced burnout from my business, I really put some of my favorite parts of me on the back burner. And cooking was one of those parts. It feels so wonderful to be back in the kitchen experimenting with the nutritious and delicious gifts our creater has given us! This breakfast bowl takes 5 minutes to prep - and you'll have enough for an entire week! (P.S. I don't share specific macro facts because of my yogi mama roots; chia is a low carb food + coconut milk should be additive free and unsweetened, also making it low carb. I prefer canned because of it's quality.)
Mix ingredients together in a glass bowl and cover. Add low carb toppings (optional) like almonds, macadamia nuts, raw or roasted pepitas, maca root, blueberries or strawberries, moringa leaves, and cinnamon. For those who need their breakfast pudding sweetened, you can try either 1/4 tsp honey or a few drops of stevia as the best options.
Serve. Share. Enjoy!
Hey friend, you can click here if you'd like me in your inbox each week. I hope we'll do life together. P.S. I love sharing helpful resources! I may also make a small cut that keeps me fully caffeinated and my brain research-packed (because we can't serve from an empty well, and I really love collecting all the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom I can for both of us.) Always, I'll do my best to keep you on the right path, but I'm no doctor even though I play one at home - often - and mostly for myself. Life with CFS sure keeps things interesting! Life with you + CFS keeps things full of JOY, too.
1 Peter 5:2 makes me melt 😭
Each week, I'm picking one of the many posts shared on social media - to dig a little deeper. Sometimes I can convey everything I want to in a caption, but more often than not there is a bigger, grander story behind it all.
Such is the case this week.
About seven years ago, before my back injury, I was a short distance runner. I wasn't a good runner. I wasn't a runner who liked running. In fact, running was actually destroying my precious, hyper-mobile joints. But I needed the rush. Endorphins have long-regulated what I've now recognized as a lifelong internal battle with depression.
About depression for a moment. As a Christian, I believe many of us have a relationship with the darkness. For some of us it's absolutely physiological. For others, it's spiritual. For me, it's both. I've lived my entire life with disease. I also know I'm not home yet, and for as long as I'm alive "there will be troubles" to quote my Jesus. So, in a time and place seven years ago when I wanted the troubles to end, running was as essential to life as air.
It was on one of these runs that I heard - loud and clear - my call. Screaming through my earbuds was "Rocky Ground" by Bruce, one of my most favorite artists of all time (I love the way he tells a story). And the lyrics literally stopped me in my tracks. Specifically, it was one line:
Find your flock, get them to higher ground.
You were chosen for an assignment. Did you know that? You were made with intent! And so was I.
Even though it wasn't until some time later that I realized 1 Peter 5:2 had the same message, I knew this one line was my assignment. I was made to be with my flock, and lead them to higher ground.
Interestingly, until I had my Wild child - I thought that my flock was just other mom's with postpartum struggles. I had no idea my flock would be every single person on my path - my family, friends, friends' kids, acquaintances, colleagues. I would minister to them all. And reflecting on that now is both so dang exciting to me, and absolutely terrifying at the same time.
Let me pause for a moment here. Who is your flock? Who are you being called to lead to higher ground? As I've been digging into what it means to have a larger-than-life calling, I've realized we all have larger-than-our-life callings. But the callings are so big only because we aren't meant to do them alone.
What does that mean to you?
Are you caring for your flock(s) well?
If not, who can encourage you? How can I encourage you today?
I can't wait to hear your responses. Be blessed, my beautiful beautiful friends!