Category: Inspiration

Letting the Light In

For the past two and a half months, I’ve been looking back at the Facebook Live videos I did when I first went on bed rest.  Knowing they would start in early September, I was dreading seeing them because it was a reminder of how long I had been out of commission.

But when the Facebook Memories began to pop up, I ultimately had a different reaction.  Rather than lamenting how long I had been laid up, I saw how far I had come in my healing journey.

At first, looking at the videos was painful.  I had let myself go for so many years … decades, really.  I had allowed myself to get caught in such a huge spiral of shame over how unhealthy I was that I just continued to let myself go.  The memories of the shame and my behavior make me cringe:

  • I was dishonest about what I was eating and how much.
  • I looked in the mirror as little as possible.
  • When I had a physical, there was no scale in my doctor’s office that I could use, so I gave an approximation of my weight, knowing in my heart that I weighed more than I said I did.
  • It was horrible when I had to go up another clothes size.  I stayed in 10s for as long as I could until buttons and zippers popped.  Then I had to buy 12s.  When I was finally topping out at 14s and 16s, I could no longer stand to go clothes shopping with anyone else.  I went alone and did it as quickly as possible.  I even put off shopping until my clothes had noticeable holes in them and I had to go.  I let my clothes look as lousy as I felt about myself.

The ultimate shame was letting my health get so bad that it took an extra hole in my behind to wake me up and make the changes that would get me healthy.  Why did I let things get so bad?  That’s a question I am still working on answering.  I’m not there yet, but I’ll get there.  So you’ll probably see more blog posts on this topic and I hope my insights are helpful.  I hope all the entries in this blog are helping you, InspiraGang.

For now, here’s what’s changed following the switch to healthy habits and the subsequent weight loss:

  • After not wearing dresses for years, I was given a dress on my 51st birthday last June.  I couldn’t wait to try it on and now I can’t wait to get another one.  I am looking forward to clothes shopping again.
  • I am now getting weighed on a regular basis to make sure I stay on track.  I actually look forward to it.  True story:  It was a challenge to find a scale to get weighed on until my friend Lisa suggested Bernardsville Animal Hospital.  There is a scale for the animals right in the reception area and I all I have to do is wheel onto it and push a button.
  • I knew before the last time I got on the scale that I had gained a little something.  It turned out to be one pound.  I am amazed that I am so in tune with my body that I can feel the difference of just one pound.  Another switch:  I felt no shame in that.  I just realized that I have to stay disciplined so that a one-pound weight gain doesn’t turn into five, 10, 20, etc.

I am healthier than I have ever been, not in spite of my wound, but because of it.  Like the Rumi quote above, the wound let the light in and I saw it, accepted it and it helped heal me.  For that, I am eternally grateful.

Yours in Health,
InspiraGirl

Rising to the Challenge

As I have mentioned in a previous blog post (The “New Normal”, September 8, 2018), the plastic surgeon advised me that, once my wound healed and I started sitting up, ultimately, I should only sit for eight to ten hours a day, with butt breaks throughout the day, for the rest of my life.  This is to guard against getting another pressure wound. I am still not sure if that is a guideline or a hard and fast rule, and part of me thinks it’s a CYA move (cover your ass…pun intended) on the part of the doctor.  But I am going to stick to it in the immediate future, because I want to stay healthy, of course.

As a result of this guideline, I value my time much more now than I did before my wound diagnosis.

I started my sitting protocol this week: thirty minutes twice a day to start.  On most days, I will probably use that time to have lunch and dinner at the kitchen table with my family since I have missed doing that.  There are also special occasions, like this past Tuesday when I used one of my two 30-minute time periods to vote and a special event this Thursday which I may write about in a future blog post and will certainly mention on Facebook.

Back in March, when the plastic surgeon advised me of this new normal, it really pissed me off.  But now, while I don’t think I can say I enjoy the challenge just yet, I can tell you that rising to it is clearly healthier than staying bitter about it.  Bitterness just eats you up inside, whereas rising to a challenge empowers you.

It certainly gives me a lot to think about as to how I spend my time going forward.  In fact, to put a positive spin on it from my perspective, it will probably will make me more efficient with my work and in day-to-day life.

It might be frustrating for my colleagues, friends and family because I can no longer be as flexible.  For health reasons, I may have to shorten or reschedule meetings when someone calls to say they are running late. But I will cross that bridge when I come to it.  Who knows?  My need to be as efficient as possible with my time may help others do the same.  I hope so, anyway.

There are other challenges I will face as I get back to my usual daily life, like getting in and out of the bathtub and the driver’s seat of my van without hurting my derrière.  As I talk about these upcoming challenges with loved ones, they sometimes seem more overwhelmed by them than I do.  Since I have been figuring out alternative ways of doing things for my whole life, I have grown used to it.  I take one challenge at a time so it doesn’t overwhelm me.  Also, going back to the empowerment factor I mentioned above, with each challenge you handle successfully, the more empowered you will feel.

What challenges have you risen to or do you need to rise to?  Share your comments below.

See you back here next Wednesday, InspiraGang!

Yours truly,
InspiraGirl

 

Let’s Connect!

Mia Famiglia

My uncle passed away eight days ago.  He was 88 and in declining health.  While it was sad, it was not unexpected and I am relieved he is no longer suffering.

Last Friday, everyone kindly gathered at our house after the funeral since I am still on bed rest.  There are no words for how great it felt to reconnect with family members I had not seen in a ridiculously long time.

We exchanged phone numbers and I have reached out to people and am getting together for lunch with a cousin and a mutual friend.  I am so looking forward to that.  I also have a cousin in Florida who I have been talking with on a regular basis and a cousin in California who has invited me to visit once I am sitting up more full-time.

Why do we let life get in the way of connecting with our loved ones?  We were not built to be solitary beings. Connecting feels so wonderful that it is actually beneficial to our health, so why not do it more often?

One of the blessings of this healing journey has been and continues to be connecting with so many people— sometimes on line at first, but that often led to meeting in person.  While there have been moments of loneliness in the past 14 moments, the times of feeling deeply connected to some amazing souls have far outweighed the feelings of isolation.  I know those connections were an essential part of my healing.

Is there a loved one you have not reached out to because it’s been an embarrassingly long time since you last saw each other?  Suck it up and do it.  I’ll bet you’ll be glad you did.

If you have a story about reconnecting with a loved one, please share it in the comments below.

Yours truly,
InspiraGirl

 

Healing Lesson: Bouncing Back

I knew down deep that this was not going to be a healing week.   I got a bit careless and sat up in bed too much, so I still have a layer of skin that needs to heal before I can start my wheelchair sitting protocol.  I’m angry at myself because I know better and I want to heal.  I see the light at the end of the tunnel and I am almost there.  ALMOST.

For the first time in the past 14 months, I was truly depressed.  However, I have gotten to a point in my life where I can only stay depressed for a short time before I feel I have to bounce back from it or I’ll get lost in a sea of negativity. I am not about to let that happen.  I have to maintain a positive mindset so I can heal.

What I have to do to get myself out of a depression is look for the lessons that a tough situation is trying to teach me.  As lofty as that might sound, it’s true.  I have a feeling that the better I learn the lessons, the faster I will get out of said situation.  I don’t know if that is overly optimistic of me, but I hope it’s true.

Looking at my life prior to the pressure wound diagnosis, I was wasting time procrastinating and indulging in habits that were not getting me anywhere (too much TV) and keeping me unhealthy (overeating the wrong things).  My mission with Operation INSPIRATION is to help people create and live their most fulfilling lives.  But, if I’m not doing that myself, how can I effectively help others do it?

The pressure wound was my wake-up call and, as much as it sucks, I am grateful for it.  The most valuable lessons I have learned this year are realizing what is most important to me and to value my time more by focusing on those things. Had I not gotten the pressure wound, I might not have become as healthy as I am or be as focused as I am on creating the life I want to live.  I am now a better, stronger person and I know I will be much more effective in my Operation INSPIRATION work because of this whole experience.

In future blogs and workshops, I will share with you how I am bouncing back after this year of recovery to become the person I want to be and what I am doing to create my own most fulfilling life.  I hope you will join me in the journey.

Yours truly,
InspiraGirl

 

Art and The Healing Hats

Last Christmas, I received a knitting loom kit.  I made my first hat the next day.  Just for fun, I posted it on Facebook.  Miraculously, someone posted a comment asking if they could order a hat.  In short, that’s how InspiraWear was born and it has been a blessing in so many ways,.

Arts ‘n’ Crafts always frustrated me as a kid.  The projects I attempted didn’t come out as well as I wanted or expected, so I never felt very artistic, although I always wished I was.

A few years ago, I had a conversation with a colleague who is a painter.  I was complimenting her work and said I wished I was an artist.  She looked at me and said, “You are.”

I looked back at her quizzically, so she went on to explain,”You are a writer and a web designer.  Anytime you write a poem or a story or create a website, you are putting art out into the world.  Therefore, you are an artist.”

I loved her reasoning and, while it took me a while to feel like I deserved to be called an artist, I now own it and it makes me so happy.

When I took up crocheting and looming, that added another dimension to my creativity.  All of these handcrafted items are art.  Each piece I create brings about ideas for new items and my clients have also inspired all sorts of color combinations and styles.  The loomed hats lead to shawls and scarves.  Little crocheted hearts lead to washcloths, pot holders and soap scrubbies.  The options are endless and so inspiring.

Looming and crocheting has also been vital to my healing.

From a practical perspective, it has helped pay the bills, especially my health insurance deductible and the medical bills that insurance does not cover.  Therefore, it has relieved financial stress so I can concentrate on healing.

It has also kept me occupied.  Translation:  I am never bored, so it’s kept me from going crazy while on bed rest.

As an added bonus, I have found looming to be particularly healing.  Like meditation, it calms me and I sleep more soundly.  I also think better.  Often, while I am looming, I am able to come up with solutions to various work and life issues.

With winter around the corner, “hat season” is upon us and I would love to make a hat, or any of my handcrafted items, just for you.  To place your custom order, you can email me at andrea@operationinspiration.com or, if you are on Facebook or Facebook Messenger, feel free to comment on my InspiraWear posts or private message me.

Artistically yours,
Andrea
aka InspiraGirl

InspiraWear:  You never know where great ideas are going to come from. This one started with a loom kit from Michael’s.

 

 

Managing the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee

Stress has been weighing me down this week.

On Monday morning, two unfortunate events occurred within 10 minutes of each other.  First, a tree came down across our driveway.  Then, my laptop conked out.  So, I turned on my cell phone, logged onto Facebook and reached out to you, InspiraGang, and you helped tremendously.

First, my friend and colleague Chuck Hendershot, owner of Feel @Home Realty, came over and chopped up the tree and he called Pablo Chica, owner of Sunflower Landscaping, to take away the cut logs.  Problem solved.

For the laptop, I posted on two Facebook group pages, asking for recommendations for a reputable, reasonably priced, local IT person.  Knowledgeable and kind Chris D’Amato showed up on my doorstep on Tuesday evening and transferred my files to my mom’s laptop until I can get a new laptop.  If you need an IT person, I can put you in touch with him.

It was stressful not being able to get computer work done for a couple of days, but I managed by filling up the time knitting, crocheting and cleaning up a lot of paper work.  I hate that last task, but it did feel good to get it done.

Now, I am back on-line, but the stress continued.

Earlier this year, I entered into an agreement to barter services with a colleague.  This morning, he welched on the agreement and sent me a bill.  Now, I am faced with initiating an uncomfortable conversation.  If someone is going to dishonor you and your business agreement and you can’t resolve the issue, it’s probably best to break ties.  While I will speak up for what is ethically right, it’s still upsetting that the business relationship may end.

In addition to the bill from my colleague, I also received a rather large medical bill in error.  So, tomorrow I have to call the billing department at the physician’s office and the insurance company to resolve the issue.

There is an expression that my friend Kathy uses for the worrisome thoughts that takes up space in one’s brain:  The Itty Bitty Shitty Committee.  This week, my IBSC was working overtime to stress me out.

Enter my friend and yoga/meditation teacher, Linda Metcalfe.  Linda is one of the deacons at my church.  She began visiting me  when I went on bed rest last year and she started teaching me yoga at our first meeting.  It was wonderful.  We have been having regular yoga and meditation sessions ever since and she and they have been vital to my healing.  The breathing exercises alone have gotten me through nerve-wracking wound check-ups.

I could not wait until Linda’s visit today because I knew it would help and it did.  Minutes into the session, I was gifted with clarity on how to handle the erroneous medical bill and the difficult conversation with my colleague.

While I can practice yoga and meditation on my own, there’s nothing like practicing with a trusted and caring friend.  It helps me think through problems with amazing clarity and it’s one of the best ways I know to manage stress and maintain one’s peace.

If you want to learn yoga and meditation with a certified, experienced instructor, I highly recommend Linda Metcalfe.  She can be reached at lntmecalfe@gmail.com or (908)256-6879.

How do you manage your stress?  Please share in the comments below.

Namaste, InspiraGang,
Andrea
aka InspiraGirl

 

I AM HEALING: Part Deux

At this past Monday’s wound healing check-up, the doctor declared my wound healed … again.  When he declared it healed a few weeks ago, he stopped the stem cell treatment after the seventh application with three more available treatments to go. I was uneasy about that decision—so much so that when I shared the news on social media, I called it a “cautious celebration.”  My mind-body-spirit connection kicked in and, even though I wanted to celebrate, I knew down deep that the wound was not yet healed.

The following week, the wound opened up slightly.  So, I insisted on following through with the last three applications.

The tenth treatment was applied this past Monday and, based on how well the treatments are working so far, the wound should look even better at next Monday’s check-up.  Then, the doctor will probably advise me to stay on bed rest for another three weeks after the treatments are complete to ensure the wound stays healed.

Always thinking ahead, I asked the rep from the company that provided the stem cell treatment if additional applications can be made available, just in case.  He said we can “re-evaluate”, if necessary.  It’s good to keep your options open.

I chose to heal as naturally as possible and I want this treatment to stick.  There is no reason to doubt that it will.  Yet, sometimes the doubts creep into my brain.

Even when it looks looks like we will experience a positive outcome, why do we often fixate on that one negative thought?  As Julia Roberts’ Vivian says in Pretty Woman, “The bad stuff is easier to believe.”  While that can feel true it doesn’t have to be true.

Whenever I feel myself going negative, I focus on the positive in many ways:

  • I journal, starting with daily prayers and affirmations.
  • I exercise, including weights, stretchy bands and yoga.
  • I meditate.
  • I knit and crochet, which is another form of meditation to me.  Anyone want a handmade item from InspiraWear? 😉
  • I engage with the people around me, often looking for who I can help and inspire.  You would be amazed how quickly negativity dissolves when you focus on helping others.
  • I connect with you, my InspiraGang, on social media. (I am about to do a Facebook Live after I post this latest blog entry.)

When I started writing this blog entry, I was feeling the fear and the non-healing negative thoughts permeate my brain. But I knew that confronting those feelings by blogging about them would dissolve the fear and chase the negativity away, AND IT DID!

I hope that this blog is helping you as much as it is helping me.  Please comment below to let me know.

Enjoy the gorgeous autumn weather!

Andrea
aka InspiraGirl

Connecting the Dots to Awareness

I got on the scale on Monday and saw that I gained a pound.  I was relieved because it was only one pound.  It was no big deal, but I knew that gaining one pound could easily lead to packing on more weight if I let it happen.

I had noticed changes in my body and, before things got out of hand, I insisted on getting weighed.  Great decision.  Facing one extra pound is so much better than facing fifty.  Looking at the food log I keep each day on my phone, I had been eating more sandwiches lately.  Pumpernickel and rye bread exclusively, but still.  So, it’s time to cut back a bit on the sandwiches.

The old me would have delayed getting on the scale, rationalizing that I would lose the weight first and then get weighed.  Instead, I gained more weight and put off getting weighed again and again and again.  I was ashamed of my weight gain and afraid to face it.

Now, at the age of 51, having lost the weight and feeling the healthiest I’ve ever felt—physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually—I don’t want to go back to feeling unhealthy and ashamed.  It’s amazing how the mind shifts once you discover what life is like on “the other side.”

It’s even more amazing how one healthy change leads to others, such as …

Once I moved out of the cave (i.e. the basement room I lived in while the upstairs was being renovated last year), I made sure the satellite TV box in my bedroom was moved into the cave so I would not fall back into the habit of having the TV on all the time.

From time to time, I still find myself getting sucked into the “YouTube vortex” to satisfy my video craving.  But now, I recognize when the videos I am watching start to depress me or numb my brain.  So I either watch crocheting and knitting videos that teach me how to make new handicrafts or I shut down YouTube completely.  If I really need some media, I turn on an audio podcast and pick up a crochet or knitting project so I am being productive.

These changes are helping me sleep better, think better, function better, FEEL BETTER.

It’s all about awareness:  My brain is finally connecting the dots to how the rest of my body feels based on the choices I make.

Oh!  Before I close this week’s blog post, I’ll share with you how I get weighed.  There used to be a sitting scale for people who use wheelchairs at Atlantic Rehabilitation in Morristown, NJ.  When I discovered the sitting scale was no longer there, my friend Lisa suggested I wheel my chair right onto the the scale in the reception area at Bernardsville Animal Hospital.  So, thanks to Lisa and the kind folks at BAH, I am getting weighed on a regular basis, right along with your pets!

Until next week, InspiraGang!

Andrea
aka InspiraGirl

Start Before You’re Ready

This is my eighth InspiraBlog entry. When I re-launched the blog, I made the decision to post a new entry each Wednesday.  Sometimes, I don’t post until the afternoon or evening.  But, so far, I’ve kept to the scheduled day.

I have made attempts to start blogs before and, around the third week, I missed my deadline by a day. The following week, I let the deadline slip by two or three days. Then, I only posted once a month and not on a consistent day. Finally, I ended up feeling lousy about myself and stopped blogging altogether because I’d lost my steam and I figured I’d lost my audience.

So why resurrect the blog?  Because I enjoy writing and I want to use my blog to help people, especially since I have so much to share about the experiences, realizations and lessons from this past year of bed rest and healing.

I was scared to do it.  Will people read it? Will it resonate with with my audience? Will they stick with it from week to week?

I have a small audience, but I know growing an audience takes time, so I remain committed.

For now, having a small audience is a good thing.  It gives me time to work out the kinks  … if need be, change the day and time I post based on when the blog stats show I am reaching the widest audience, find out which topics are resonating with people and focus on those areas (and weed out the topics that don’t resonate) based on the readers’ comments.  It also gives me time to increase my confidence.  I keep my blog posts in the draft folder until the very last moment and it takes me and a lot of guts, and sometimes hours, to press the PUBLISH button.  It does get easier–that is, less nerve-wracking–with each blog entry I share with you.

Before I re-launched the blog, I kept telling myself I wasn’t ready.  But that was my fear talking and I can tell you that the fear has significantly decreased in the past month and a half.  So perhaps this blog should be titled Start While You’re Still Scared Because the Fear Will Disappear.

Do you have a fear you want to overcome or a start before you’re ready experience to share?  Also, what topics do you want to read about in future blog entries?  Please post in the comments below.

Thanks for reading, InspiraGang!  See you next week!

Andrea
aka InspiraGirl

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda … Yada, Yada, Yada

Yesterday was 9/11. I also had a wound check-up scheduled.  On the way to the appointment, we passed Heartworks House, where the memorial ceremony was taking place.  Knowing that I had to take care of my health, I still didn’t want to be going to the doctor.  On this day of all days, I wanted to be at that memorial supporting my friends.  Thankfully, I had the Heartworks meeting to look forward to last night (via Skype) and it did my soul a world of good because …

My check-up did not go well and I was bummed.  Last week, the doctor declared the wound healed and stopped the stem cell treatment, even though I have the availability of three more applications of the treatment.  I had an uneasy feeling from that moment on and it would not go away.  I should feel so much happier hearing that the wound was healed.  Why didn’t I feel like shouting the news from the rooftops and celebrating?  Well, now I know.  The wound is not fully healed … NOT YET.  In the past week, the wound opened up slightly–those pesky .2 centimeters (2 millimeters)–a minuscule amount, but distressing nonetheless.  So, I started “shoulding” all over myself.

I should have listened to my intuition.

I should have known this thing wasn’t healed yet.

I should have insisted on continuing the treatment.

I didn’t and I was pissed off at myself.

Was all hope lost?  No.  We are resuming the treatment next Monday, and I have faith that it will work and the wound will heal completely.  Still, the nagging questions and negative thoughts linger in my worn-out brain.

What if I this thing doesn’t heal?

What if I did have the surgery?  Would it have worked and would I be up and about by now?

What if I wasted this whole year?

Then, it hit me…  I was wasting time on “should haves” and “what ifs.”  It’s a huge waste of friggin’ time, my friends, and it doesn’t do any good.  It’s counterproductive and it just makes you feel worse.  You can’t change the past, but you can make changes in the present that positively affect your future.

What I can do going forward is:

Regain my positive outlook.

Keep saying and writing my positive affirmations, especially “I am healthy.”, “I make healthy decisions.” and “My derrière continues to heal.”

Continue to reach out to you, my InspiraGang, when I need a boost of encouragement.

Please keep the prayers, positive vibes, cards, letters and visits coming.  In fact, I would love it if you would post some positive thoughts in the comments below.

Oh, and please share the link to this blog with your friends, family and colleagues.

Thank you for being there for me, InspiraGang.  You heal me and I am eternally grateful.

Until next week,
Andrea
aka InspiraGirl