5 Pros to Hair Loss

91809d4bac33b427373e720b8b1ffcea-treatment-for-thinning-hair-hair-loss-treatment.jpgSince my battle with Lupus began, one of the symptoms that I have been experiencing is  “unexplained hair loss”, according to my rheumatologist. I’ve shaved my head completely bald twice in 12 months because my hair follicles just weren’t holding onto my scalp any longer.

This was something that I was extremely ashamed and embarrassed about. I began to feel like my husband wasn’t going to be attracted to me anymore, but that wasn’t the case. He has been so supportive by reassuring me every day that he would never find me unattractive.

My hair has since grown back but has recently begun falling out again. I’ve begun researching natural remedies to stimulate hair growth and I’m quickly finding out how tedious this process is becoming. There are so many products, it’s hard to know which ones would really work, but I’m on a mission so I can’t give up. While I’m figuring all of that out, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t allow my mind to slip back into a dark place filled with self-pity and turmoil. I decided to think about how losing your hair can be awesome.

5 Pros to Hair Loss

  1. I use less shampoo and conditioner. I love that I use less shampoo and conditioner because my family won’t go through it so quickly. It saves money and time spent in the store. I’m all for saving both.
  2. Shaving your head bald actually feels awesome. I loved it when the cool breeze would kiss the top of my head and the deep scalp massages my husband gave. It was so relaxing. It helped calm me during severe anxiety attacks.
  3. Now, I have a legitimate reason to buy wigs and not feel guilty about it. Before when I had healthy hair, the idea of buying a wig was frivolous. I would always think of what else I could have bought with the money, but I was also envious of women who were brave enough to wear stylish wigs without worrying about the judgment of others. Now I feel like I’m going bald and I want to look cute, so I need a wig.
  4. Wigs are awesome. They even have stylish wigs for men AND you can’t even tell it’s a wig! I mean, men have been wearing wigs for centuries, but modern day wigs can blend into your scalp. It’s a perfect illusion. You can get short, long, straight, curly, updo, down-do, course, thin, thick….it’s endless.
  5. I know that I am more than my hair. I am more than my skin color. I am more than society’s projection of perfection. I am loved. I am wonderful. I am beautifully made. Hair or No Hair. I am Ashley.

If you’re experiencing hair loss or any physical issues, YOU ARE STILL BEAUTIFUL. The world’s perception of you is not God’s perception of you. He thinks you’re wonderful. You were made in His image and He makes NO mistakes.

“Beauty is when you can appreciate yourself. When you love yourself, that’s when you’re most beautiful.” -Zoe Kravitz

Letting Go, Letting God

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To my readers,

I didn’t plan on blogging today. I was actually having anxiety about what I should post next, but I had an experience this morning that I had to share with you all.

This morning started out like any other morning. Now that I look back, I see that I was very anxious. I remember saying to my husband how today “just didn’t feel right”. I had a million thoughts going through my mind; things I had to get done, the people that I need to call, the 4-year old that needs me constantly. I started one of my many chores to help push through the anxiety. Ultimately, it became too overwhelming, so I shut it down.

I left my 4-year-old on the sofa with his iPad. I headed to my bathroom to brush my teeth and to get a little peace from my son’s increasingly curious questions. I started listening to a video by Joyce Meyer on How to Beat Depression. She began speaking about how God uses us to press through other people’s lives. I immediately felt so much pain and hurt lift off of me like a heavy blanket.  All of the pain that I was carrying from other people hurting me was instantly gone. It was like forgiveness, hope, and perseverance wrapped in a tortilla made of beauty. It was amazing. I truly wept. I never felt God’s presence so much in my life. It was like He was standing right next to me. I saw Him as clearly as I saw myself. I cried like a baby. I can’t remember a time where I felt so…child-like.

It was the most beautiful moment I’ve ever felt and I needed the world to know. Even if it reaches one reader.  If you have faith, if you seek God, He will answer! He will show up when you least expect it. He showed up while I was brushing my teeth. I had toothpaste everywhere, weeping like an infant. But I loved it. I loved every minute of it. I haven’t felt that much joy in…honestly, I don’t remember. Like I said, I’ve never felt anything like it. It made me realize that when you have the Holy Spirit guiding you, it becomes easier to hear God’s instructions.

Seek God and He will show up. Thank you for reading. I hope this inspires you to push through and know that all of your hard work is going to pay off. Your prayers will not go unanswered.

“Forgive anyone who has caused you pain or harm. Keep in mind that forgiving is not for others. It is for you. Forgiving is not forgetting. It is remembering without anger. It frees up your power, heals your body, mind, and spirit. Forgiveness opens with a pathway to a new place of peace where you can persist despite what has happened to you.” -Les Brown

I Want To Twirl, Dam**t!

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As people, we have the tendency to take our lives for granted. The heartache that we go through numbs our ability to live in the now. This past week, my husband and I chose to watch Valerian and The City Of A Thousand Planets. It’s a movie about a planet full of intelligent beings viciously wiped out by a galactic war that they had nothing to do with. The opening scene of the movie was with this beautiful blue girl twirling out of her seashell home only to walk out onto a white, sandy beach with a wonderful view of a clear blue sky and a gorgeous blue, clear ocean. She looked so peaceful, so serene. You could tell that she didn’t have a care in the world. I immediately thought to myself, I want to twirl dammit. I wish I was able to walk outside every day with a positive attitude, skipping along to the birds singing, twirling around soaking up the sun. I’m not being facetious. I want to have a natural high from life that only each breath can provide.

Then I realized that I can.

When you walk outside to face the day, you and only you determine what kind of day you’re going to have. Once your foot crosses the threshold, you can choose to handle your circumstances or allow your circumstances to handle you.

I wake up every day knowing that unfortunate circumstances are going to happen. Who I am will determine how I deal with what is going to happen. I don’t want to be a coward and hide from them. If millions of people can do this, then I can too.

Somewhere along the way, I started to believe that a life of misery was my destiny. The heartache and anger of my past and present is a permanent part of my existence, like depression. I’ve allowed Lupus to trick me into believing that my spirit is doomed. Honestly, the person that I’ve become and the thoughts that I continue to have is a person that is foreign to me. Up until now, I’ve never had to put so much effort into getting through the day. It’s discouraging.

So, I chose to face the day with dignity. I chose to face the day with the armor that God has provided for me. I chose not to sink into a dark place that only feeds my inner demon.

I chose to live life.

“On a good day, enjoy yourself; On a bad day, examine your conscience. God arranges for both kinds of days so that we won’t take anything for granted.” –Ecclesiastes 7:14

 

 

 

Unapologetically Living Life

What does living your best life look like? Sometimes we have the tendency to live our lives for other people and feel like we have to apologize or be sorry for when we finally decide to live for ourselves and do what is best for us.

We shouldn’t have to apologize for living our best lives. We shouldn’t have to apologize for doing what needs to be done to make sure we, ourselves are happy.

Below is a list of actions that you should NEVER apologize for:

BEING YOURSELF!

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It takes courage to follow your dreams and not someone else’s. You may be in a situation where someone is making you feel like you have to live the life that they want you to live.

For example, I would love for my son to become an architect. He is so talented and smart. Instead, he wants to become a comic book illustrator. I want my son to live his best life, so I have to support what he wants to do with it. I want him to be himself and never apologize for it. 

Since tomorrow is not promised, be your best self today. You were born for a reason. You were born to shine. Shine bright baby, shine brighter than anyone ever expected you to shine. Blind the haters with your rays of awesomeness.

FOLLOWING YOUR GOALS

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Everyone has goals and aspirations. Follow yours! Do not mind the nay-sayers and haters. You will succeed because it is something that you want for yourself.

Remember, anything worth having is worth fighting for and your dreams are worth fighting for. So, suit up and get prepared. It may be bumpy, it may be challenging, but you can do it. You only get one life. If you woke up this morning, you’ve already accomplished more than so many other people. You are here, you are worthy, you are destined to be great. 

FINDING YOUR INNER PEACE

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I used to let people disturb my peace, but not anymore. Do you know anyone who has the ability to disturb your peace? I’ve decided that everyone that is known for gossiping or drama has been blocked from my phone. Why? I need my PEACE! I need to be able to go through the day without hearing the tragic news that one of these toxic people has caused for themselves.

At first, I felt bad for ignoring them. Then I had to realize that-that heavy, negative feeling that I would have when I hung up the phone was not worth it anymore.

You can’t expect people to change, you can only change how you allow people to make you feel. If you have to chuck up the deuces to get some peace, by all means, do it without apology. This is beneficial to you and you only.

TRUSTING YOUR GUT

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My gut has saved my life 8/10 times. I trust my instincts for almost everything because I feel like it’s the Holy Spirit guiding me.

If you feel like something is right, then go for it. Your feelings are your feelings and they are important. Your feelings should never be a sacrifice for someone who may or may not agree with your life choices. Learn to trust yourself and your needs and wants.

There will be a time where you would have to make a  life-changing decision. It will be easier to make that decision if you trusted yourself and your ability to do what is right for you and/or family.

BELIEVING IN A HIGHER POWER

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I love Jesus! I am a Christian. Nowadays, society will try to make you feel like loving Jesus is a bad thing. Some would argue that I am brainwashed by the church to give away all of my money, but those non-believers do not understand the relationship that I have with God has nothing to do with the church I attend or how much money I may choose to offer.

My relationship with God is 100% about my salvation and selfishly, help with getting through my life’s challenges, but I will address that in a later post.

We should all respect each other’s choices on how we decide to make life work for us. If you are Buddist, great! If you believe in the energy of the universe, awesome! If you don’t believe in anything at all, that is your choice. I will never judge you for your beliefs, just as I ask you not to judge me for mine.

My faith teaches me, that everyone will eventually learn about the grace that God has to offer, and I feel when He is ready to move in your life, that will be between you and Him. I will still love you as He instructs and I will support any endeavor you may want to follow.

Never apologize for having faith in something. If you think the lampshade answers your prayers, then by all means, pray to the lampshade. If that is what gives you the courage to wake up everyday to fight the good fight, then do it. Do you!

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Now, this list also applies to the a**holes. I say this with humor and all seriousness. I know someone who is an a**hole. They will say anything that comes to mind and not cares about someone feelings. If you are like this, you can still apply this to your life. Just know, you have to respect if someone chooses not to deal with you because of your a**holeness or if I choose to hit that good ole block button. It’s honestly my favorite feature on my iPhone, so don’t bring me any drama! 

“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself, comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the essence of beauty.” -Dr. Martin Maraboli

*Photos owned by Google*

Pain-Body? What the Heck Is That?

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Andrew was a troubled child. He was always getting into trouble. Why? At the age of 10, he began to witness his little sister get molested by their father. Andrew tried to tell other family members about the abuse his little sister was experiencing and about how his father and his uncles made Andrew watch pornography and drink alcohol. This trauma started a series of unfortunate events. He began acting out; getting into fights at school and at home, smoking marijuana, and eventually was expelled from school. His mom eventually sent him away to a children’s home for kids who have experienced trauma, but after a couple of years of being away, he came back extremely angry.

Between the molestation trial and Andrews family believing the accused side of the story versus his, he became severely depressed and engulfed with anger, indulging himself into more violence and eventually joined a gang to silence the pain. At age 16, his mom was at her wit’s end and gave up, packing up Andrew’s other brothers and sisters and left town while Andrew was at school.

After that, Andrew became homeless. Jumping from house to house, surviving by stealing and scamming for the next 4 years. Andrew did a lot of things that he wasn’t proud of, but he didn’t know what else to do.

Andrew developed a cycle that he was unaware of. Due to his trauma, a negative energy field called the pain-body was awakened in Andrew that would haunt him for the next 11 years of his life, taking over his body and mind.

When I first met Andrew, I immediately noticed that he was in pain. I didn’t find out until later why he was in so much pain. When I found out, I didn’t understand why he wasn’t able to get help with his issues and just move on. It was like he was addicted to being reminded of his past. He wanted to hold on to it. Andrew was also addicted to drama. I know a few other people who are like this, but it was clear that he needed chaos surrounding him at all times. He was fighting with his family, strangers, girlfriends, everyone.

I finally understood why Andrew was like this when I read “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. In the second chapter, Tolle describes The Pain Body.

What is the pain-body?

The pain-body is an unforeseen force that causes us to unconsciously seek pain over and over again. This is the perfect recipe for self-sabotage. It’s made up of accumulated pain in a negative energy field that occupies your body and mind.

There are 2 different kinds; dormant pain body and active pain body. Active pain body live in those who are deeply unhappy 90%-100% of the time.

What can trigger the pain-body?

“The pain body can be awakened by any unhappiness within yourself. It can take the form of irritation, impatience, a somber mood, a desire to hurt, anger, rage, depression, a need to have drama in your relationships, and so on.” -Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

For example, a child who won’t stop whining about not wanting to take a nap would be considered the dormant pain-body. Active pain bodies are vicious and destructive monsters that feed on your pain. Thoughts and feelings about your life become negative and self-destructive. Some pain bodies have the ability to drive a person to suicide.  

In Andrew’s case, the pain-body inside of him is awakened whenever he would talk to his father about his childhood or if he is reminded of his sister, whom of which has since passed away from a life of violence and drugs.

How does the pain body survive?

The pain-body is developed in the unconscious and that’s where they want to stay. It’s only purpose is to bring pain and grow from it.

“The pain-body wants to survive, just like every other entity in existence, and it can only survive if it gets you to unconsciously identify with it. It can then rise up, take you over, “become you”, and live through you. It will feed on any experience that resonates with its own kind of energy, anything that creates further pain in whatever form; anger, destructiveness, hatred, grief, emotional drama, violence, and even illness.” Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now 

Once the pain-body has taken over, you will want more pain. You either become the victim or the victimizer or both. You either want to cause pain or want to suffer from pain.

For example, at a very young age, the pain-body inside of me convinced me that cutting myself was the best way to escape the emotional trauma I experienced growing up. I thought, if I felt actual pain, then my heart wouldn’t hurt so much. It worked. Well not really. It was a very unhealthy way to deal with my issues, but at the time, every time I would put a blade up to my skin, I was unconsciously feeding the pain-body. Making it stronger with every tear and every stroke.

So, once it takes over you, you unconsciously want more pain. In Andrew’s case, the pain body has already developed from years of abuse and pain. He knows no other way to live. The pain body has not only taken over his entire life, but he is completely unaware of its existence. The pain-body has convinced him that pain and anger were the only emotions that he would feel and the only way to feel better is to cause even more pain and destruction.

How do I become aware of the pain-body?

Have you ever said something to someone that was hurtful? But you knew before you said it, that it would be a really harsh thing to say, yet you say it anyway? You’ve just awakened the pain-body inside of you. You’ve just given it the food that it needs it continues to survive in your psyche. The pain-body is excited now because most likely, there will be negative consequences to whatever you decided to say. Once those events occur, the pain-body goes back to sleep until the next time you decide to awaken it.

“So the pain-body, when it has taken you over, will create a situation in your life that reflects back it’s own energy frequency for it to feed on. Pain can only feed on pain. Pain cannot feed on joy. It finds it quite indigestible.” -Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

How can I get rid of the pain-body?

Become aware of the pain that you cause onto yourself and to others around you. Once you are aware, now you can make a conscious decision to not say hurtful words or make hurtful decisions. Then, you’ll starve the pain body, eventually forcing it to no longer exist.

I don’t think anyone wants to admit they enjoy pain. I mean, I wouldn’t. But it’s like overcoming an addiction; the 1st step is admitting that you have a problem. Same with the pain body.

“Just as you cannot fight the darkness, you cannot fight the pain -body. Trying to do so would create inner conflict and thus further pain. Watching it is enough. Watching implies accepting it as a part of what is at that moment.” -Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

When you become the “watcher” or aware, the pain-body will try to trick you into believing that your pain is a permanent part of who you are. The pain-body is even known to cause physical pains if parts of your body, but it won’t last long. As long as you continue to stay aware and present. At this moment, the pain-body will longer be able to control your thinking.

For instance, Andrew is now aware of the pain-body living inside of him. He is now aware of the pain-body, so he chooses to make a conscious effort not to say or participate in hateful acts. By doing so, he is starving the pain-body. It continues to try to convince Andrew that his life of destruction is great, but Andrew refuses to get back into the negative mind-pattern that he lived with for so many years.

To Summarize

-Pay attention to the feelings that you are having

-Be aware that it is the pain-body

-Accept that it is there

-Don’t allow yourself to think about it (easier said than done)

-Do not allow your feelings to turn into thinking

-Do not judge or analyze

-Do not identify with the pain-body. In other words, do not become the pain-body

-Stay present with the power of your own conscious presence

 

In the present day, Andrew is a work in progress. He has grown so much in the time that I have known him. Addressing the pain-body inside of him is changing his life in so many positive ways. He is now married to a wonderful woman and has three beautiful children. He determined to become a better Andrew.

If you feel like you have awakened the pain-body inside of you, just know that you can overcome those feelings of despair, pain, and anger. This is NOT you! You are NOT your pain or your past.

If you know someone who is struggling with their pain-body, encourage them to read this post or  The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I think one of our many basic instincts is to avoid people like this, toxic people. The truth of the matter is, we may have no idea what a “toxic” person is dealing with inside of their heart. It may take this post or Mr. Tolle’s book to open up the opportunity to change their lives.

“Scars mean you fought. Wrinkles mean you lived. Heartache means you loved.”  Matshona Dhliwayo

Original Photo owned by Google

Phenomenal Woman, That’s me!

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As I type this, I am struggling with a couple of health issues that has me bedridden; kidney infection and a lupus flare.  Although, I am really proud of myself for getting a few things crossed off of my to-do list, including getting prepared for a much-anticipated surgery this upcoming Monday.

Since I’m not feeling well, today’s post will be fairly short and easy, but inspirational. I want to share a very special poem that I like to recite to myself whenever I feel overwhelmed and unable to push through the day. 

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Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   

But when I start to tell them,

They think I’m telling lies.

I say,

It’s in the reach of my arms,

The span of my hips,   

The stride of my step,   

The curl of my lips.   

I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,   

That’s me.

I walk into a room

Just as cool as you please,   

And to a man,

The fellows stand or

Fall down on their knees.   

Then they swarm around me,

A hive of honey bees.   

I say,

It’s the fire in my eyes,   

And the flash of my teeth,   

The swing in my waist,   

And the joy in my feet.   

I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered   

What they see in me.

They try so much

But they can’t touch

My inner mystery.

When I try to show them,   

They say they still can’t see.   

I say,

It’s in the arch of my back,   

The sun of my smile,

The ride of my breasts,

The grace of my style.

I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

Now you understand

Just why my head’s not bowed.   

I don’t shout or jump about

Or have to talk real loud.   

When you see me passing,

It ought to make you proud.

I say,

It’s in the click of my heels,   

The bend of my hair,   

the palm of my hand,   

The need for my care.   

’Cause I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me!

Always remember, whether you’re a woman or man, boy or girl, young or old, YOU ARE LOVED! YOU ARE STRONG! YOU ARE PHENOMENAL!

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10

They Tried to Kill Me!: How To Become Your Own Advocate

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Yep! You read it correctly. They tried to kill me. Who is “they” you ask? One of the major hospitals in my city. I went to the emergency room because I was having extreme pain, nausea, vomiting, and few other annoying symptoms that I experience a lupus flare.

Anyone who lives with a chronic illness knows that this process is very tedious and frustrating. I mean, who wants to spend a beautiful day cooped in a room, hooked up to machines that beep every 2 minutes while lying on a yoga mat they call a bed. Lord knows I love that I have the right to go to a hospital to get treated for any problems that I may be having. I fully understand that there are so many people around the world, including some of my fellow Americans in Puerto Rico, who do not have access to health care of any kind; just know I am explaining, not complaining. I digress.

So, the doctor immediately began treating me for the pain. I really can’t remember if I wasn’t paying attention or if he wasn’t fully explaining what was about to happen next. So, I really don’t want to blame him for malpractice if possibly, my thoughts were louder than his voice. I was in so much pain, that I didn’t notice the nurse come in and attached Ketamine to my IV (intravenous therapy). I don’t remember the dosage, I just remember what came 5 minutes after she left. I felt this high that I can only describe as the very first time I smoked marijuana. It was a familiar high. Five minutes after that, I began to feel a high I can only describe as a heroin high. Now, I have never ever in my life taken heroin. I’m just saying, based off of what I’ve seen in person, it felt how a heroin addict would look when they’re finishing that first injection.

In elementary school, when D.A.R.E. officers came in and told us, students, that drugs would kill us, I believed them. It has always been in my head that drugs=death. That’s a little weird to admit, but I’m sure it’s saved my life a few times. I’ve never thought about, dreamed about, or wondered a little bit about what those kinds of drugs would feel like. The strongest drug I’ve ever taken was Percocet 7.5/325mg, I even hate that! So, needless to say, drugs aren’t my thing. *Disclaimer: Marijuana is not a drug, it is a plant.* Sorry, I digress again.

This Ketamine high was absolutely horrific. First, my body felt like it was melting all over the hospital bed, I was so relaxed. Then, I started laughing hysterically like something was funny. No one said anything! I was just laughing, like, “Joker from Batman” laughing. Then, I began hallucinating, but that didn’t last long. Not compared to how long my body felt lifeless, like I was dead. Not to mention my heart rate went up. I was terrified. I’ve never felt anything like it. And the worst part, it only took away my pain for 30 minutes. 30 Minutes! I was high as a kite for almost 24 hours after that. Early, next day, I remember feeling like I was floating through space.

Come to find out, the nurse had the IV drip up way too high, so there was fluid entering my bloodstream faster than it was supposed to. So, instead of the medication entering my body at squirt gun rate, it’s entering my body at a water hose rate. Oh, and did I mention that I’m currently weighing in at 105 pounds?

This experience taught me so many lessons and I want to share them with you. Even if you do not struggle with a chronic illness, please use this as an example, even if it’s just for a check-up.

BE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE

You know your body better than anyone! Medical doctors may be experts in their field, but you’re an expert on you. Below is a list of ways to help you become your own advocate

Ask Questions 

It’s true. There is no such thing as a stupid question. Especially when it comes to your health. No matter how big or small, crazy or sane, ask your questions, all of them. Gain as much knowledge as you possibly can so you can have a full understanding of what you are growing through.

Write everything down 

Keep track of all important documents and what you and your doctor discussed that day. Also, keep track of conversations that you may have had over the phone with one of your doctors’ nurses or supporting medical staff. This really helps if you have multiple doctors. If you’re like me, I talk to so many different people, it’s hard to keep track.

Keep a list of current/past medications 

Doctors are human, they make mistakes. One mistake that they can possibly make is prescribing a new medication that may counteract your current medication(s). So when they say, “We’re going to start you on (name of medication).” You can say, “Will it counteract any of my current medications?”

Know and respect your limit 

If they want to perform invasive procedures on you and you’re not comfortable, don’t let them do it. Express your concern. If you feel like you’re not getting heard, get another opinion.

Keep A Journal

 Write down your feelings. Write down your goals. Write down anything that you feel is in important for your recovery. That way, you’re not just keeping track of your body’s needs, but also your minds need as well.

 

I may have exaggerated a little. They really didn’t try to kill me. It was an oversight made by the nurse. Although, if I would have known the above and did a little research on my smartphone, that could have been avoided altogether. For now on, I’m making sure I know everything there is to know about the health care plans my physicians have for me.

 

“Oh, no, not I! I will survive. Oh, as long as I know how to love I know I’ll stay alive. I’ve got all my life to live. I’ve got all my love to give. And I’ll survive, I will survive, hey, hey.” -Gloria Gaynor

6 Ways to Manage Your Emotions

Are you emotional wreck? Hell, right now, I am. I’ve always been a pretty sensitive person, but because of some of life’s challenges, I learned a long time ago how to hide my emotions from everyone. At the time, I thought I was managing them, when in fact, they were just being stored away in a very dark place.

When I was 15 years old, I began to notice that I was different from other people, very different. How I felt, what I liked, even my philosophy on life and it’s meaning, was very different from everyone else around me. I began to think that there was something wrong with me and this thought would eventually manifest into deeper, darker thoughts.

Since this year has been the most trying time of my 32 years of life, I have been forced to address emotions that I thought were long gone. When I first became sick, I was bedridden. Without realizing, I allowed the fear and uncertainty of Lupus cloud my judgment and my mind. I allowed negative thoughts to replace any hope I had of becoming healthy again, which exposed a lot of those old, buried feelings. I slowly began drowning without being consciously aware of it. I’m sure that’s why they say it’s never a good idea to have an idle mind. Thoughts can creep into your mind that will have you convinced that everything that you knew about yourself is a complete lie. Thus, becoming an emotional wreck.

Lately, I’ve had to practice how to handle my emotions, old and new, and I would love to share what has worked for me. So, below is a list of ways that you can keep your emotions in check.

  1. Know Your Triggers

We all have emotional triggers. Emotional triggers are situations or people that have the ability to cause a negative emotional response. For you, an emotional trigger can be friends, family members, or even the upcoming holidays. We may not have the ability to avoid our triggers, but we can certainly learn to live with them without becoming overwhelmed.

Once you are aware of your triggers, you can then deal with them accordingly. Remember, do what is best for you! If you need to remove yourself from the situation, do so. If you need to seek counseling or a support group to help you through dealing with the trigger(s) that just won’t go away, like a family member or boss, do it. Your emotional stability is what is most important.

  1. Don’t react right way

Have you ever lost your temper in a drop of a hat? Some of us *cough, cough* have the tendency to overreact while in the midst of emotional turmoil. Someone can say that one thing to drive you nuts, and then bam, you’re yelling and screaming, probably saying things you’ll later regret.

It’s better for your emotional state if you stepped back for a moment to ask yourself, “Is this worth getting upset over? Is this worth disturbing my peace over?” I’ll let you know right now, 8 out 10 times, the answer is no. Well, at least with me. When I think about it, there are very few people that are worth me compromising my peace of mind over, but admittingly, I am still a work a progress.

  1. Change Your Thoughts

I’ve spoken about this so many times. It’s really important that you have healthy positive thoughts. So, whenever you find yourself in emotional hell, you will already be convinced that you are awesome and strong and that you will get through whatever is happening at the time. Negative thoughts will no longer have room in your mind. You can change your thoughts by listening to inspirational speeches, reading motivational literature, or church.

  1. Do something that you love

When you’re immersed in something that you are passionate about and that you are focused on, your mind will be too occupied to become sad. Doing what you love uplifts and motivates you in ways that wouldn’t be able to imagine. It is also a great coping skill to get you through rough moments.

Do what you love as often as you can. That way, whenever you’re going through a rough patch, it’ll be second nature to jump straight into a healthy coping mechanism.

  1. See the bigger picture

One of my favorite sayings is, “There are 3 sides to every story; yours, theirs, and the truth.” Whatever may have happened to trigger a negative emotional response, try to step back to view the entire picture. For example, let’s say your co-worker comes into work upset with an attitude. It’s normally not like her because she usually comes in happy and chipper. She’s really not talking to you or giving you much attention. You could either take it personally and assume her attitude has to do with you, or you could try to consider other reasons why she’s being snappy. You never know what people are going through behind closed doors. Be a friend. Find out. Show support.

  1. Meditate

I am a huge fan of meditation. Sometimes I pray during mediation, sometimes I work on redirecting my busy thoughts. Mediation is a great tool to use due to some of its great benefits:

-reducing stress

-improving concentration

-practicing increase of self-awareness

-reducing depression and anxiety

If you take 5-10 minutes out of your day to meditate, you will begin to see a significant improvement when trying to get your emotions under control. People say it’s too hard because they are unable to get there brain to shut off. Meditation is not about getting your brain to turn off, but more about training your brain to redirect itself when you begin thinking about chores or errands or anything outside of self-improvement and growth.

Some days I don’t have to think twice about how to handle my emotions, but other days, I need to refer back to this list. It has been helping me real my emotions in when I feel they are out of control,  so I really hope it’s able to help you.

Do you have anything that helps you keep your emotions in check? Drop a comment below to let us know. I’m down for all suggestions. Again, I’m a work in progress *cough, cough*

“As you heal, you see yourself more realistically. You accept that you are a person with strengths and weaknesses. You make the changes you can in your life and let go of the things that aren’t in your power to change. You learn that every part of you is valuable. And you realize that all of your thoughts and feelings are important, even when they’re painful or difficult.” -Ellen Bass, Beginning to Heal

Thank You!

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Today, I woke to find that 21 awesome people decided to follow my blog. It may not seem like a lot to some people, but I can’t tell you enough how excited I am that you guys find what I am saying interesting enough to say, “Hey, I want to know what she’s going to write about next.”

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By simply pressing that wonderful “follow” button, you all have given me, even more, motivation to use this platform to share my life’s experiences in hopes that someone, anyone can relate and learn from my very hard lessons.

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Thank you all so much for reading my words, my thoughts, my feelings, and my struggles. You all have truly become apart of my inspiration. I’m still new at this, so please feel free to leave comments on any opinion you have; good or bad! I love all constructive criticism. It allows me to grow which will lead to a successful career in…..whatever I’m trying to be successful at. Haha 🙂 Thank you, wonderful 21. Our family will only continue to grow from here.

“Here’s to those who inspire you and don’t even know it.” -Anonymous

 

Sun Ray Kisses

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I feel like today was specifically made just for me.

As I feel the cool breeze shuffling through my soft sweater and baggy sweatpants, the warm sun is adding a beautiful glow to my melanin

The sounds of my little people calling my name is like hearing an angel sing

I no longer take for granted the joy of watching my kids jump, climb, and sprint through the wild dangers of the playground

I can’t help but feel like this is God’s way of answering my prayers in abundance

Today my mountains became ant hills, my worries became ambitions, my fear became non-existent

The sun has risen just for me

The sunlight hugs me, embraces me, to let me know that she has missed me.

I soak up all of her love because I’ve missed her too

 

“I decided to fly through the air and live in the sunlight and enjoy life as much as I could.” -Evel Knievel 

11 Ways to Self Motivation

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One of the struggles that I face dealing with a chronic illness, is the idea that being sick will be the rest of my life. I began to feel like waking up with aching pains, eating only broth because it is all my body can handle, the rashes and constant infections, the extreme fatigue, expensive medications…will be the rest of my life? I slowly began to see more darkness than light. The light became so dim, that I thought I couldn’t see it at all. I even began to allow the darkness to completely take over me, but then I had a quick and swift wake up call. I will share this “wake up call”  in a future blog post. Honestly, it’s still so fresh and new, I’m not quite ready to share it with the world. That wound needs to heal first. Although it was a tough lesson to learn, I am so grateful that I learned it. It gave me the push I needed to attempt to climb out of the darkness.

 

The first step for me was to write down what I want; what are my short-term and long-term goals. I then folded up the ‘long-term’ list and placed it in a safe spot. I didn’t want to obsess about not meeting my long-term goals while in the middle of accomplishing my short-term goals. I am definitely the kind of person that attempts to rush the process. I’m working on that as well. My short-term goals are very simple. Sometimes I feel like they’re too simple.Then I remembered what once I have accomplished even the smallest goal, it will then give me the courage to conquer the next one. I did this to show myself that there are things to live for and not allow darkness to swallow me whole. See, darkness convinces you that you are not worthy of being great. Darkness tricks you into believing that your circumstance will never get better and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. I digress.

 

One of my short-term goals is to lower my stress. There are many causes of a lupus flare, one being stress. Honestly, I’m sure it is a large part as to why I experience a lot of flares. One way that I am lowering my stress is listening to motivational videos and speakers. I’ve mentioned it in a couple of posts before, so this should let you know how beneficial and awesome I think it is. I’ve honestly learned to have more confidence in my ability to move past what I am going through in this season of my life. I usually listen to random speakers on YouTube, but there is one speaker in particular that grabbed my attention the very first time I heard one of this speeches and I wanted to share it with you. 6 Keys to Self Motivation by Les Brown has given me the motivation is rise above my circumstance and get through this season of my life. Les Brown is a motivational speaker, author, radio personality, former television host, and former member of the Ohio House of Representatives. He has inspired millions of people around the world to improve the quality of their lives. Here I am talking like I’m a walking billboard. Honestly, I’ve just heard of this guy and I want as many people to know about him as possible. If you’re struggling to find motivation for anything, this is definitely for you. Below is a breakdown

11 Keys to Self Motivation by Les Brown  

1. Self-Mastery

You must always continue to work on yourself to achieve self-mastery

-The greatest human ability is being able to become more. Ex. A dog can’t be anything other than a dog. A tree can’t be anything other than a tree.

-You have unlimited potential

-Find something that you’re passionate about

-Find something that gives you a strong sense of completion in order to develop your reputation

-You can work on yourself by reading books that inspire you, listen to motivational audio first to start your day. Your mind is more reception in the morning.

2. Live with Passion and Energy

-Make a conscious effort to be lively

-Stay away from negative and toxic people

-SMILE!

-We have a lot to be grateful for

-Your level of passion and energy determines how much you will accomplish and how well you can do it

3. Know What You Want

-What do you want? Be specific

-The more you are aware of what exactly you want, your subconscious will begin to align with what you want

-Write it down and keep it with you. Writing is an exercise that engages your subconscious mind

-Read it every morning, noon, and night. Reading causes you to focus and concentrate on what you want

-When doubt begins to cloud your mind to tell us we can’t accomplish our goals, this practice will help you focus and discipline your thinking to more positive thoughts

-You are powerful!

-You are a miracle worker!

-Self-doubt has conditioned your mind to forget this

4. Develop a Health Plan

-You can’t feel well and do well if you’re not healthy

-Respect your body because you are worth it

-Your body is the only vehicle you have to get you through this life

5. Monitor Your Inner Conversations

-Take charge of your inner thoughts

-Don’t listen to self-doubt

-When they pop up, change your thoughts

6. Visualize

-See yourself beyond your circumstance with the challenge already resolved

-Think about how you will feel once your goal has been accomplished

7. Know That You Have a Purpose

Write down 5 reasons why you deserve your goal

-When your having self-doubt, read your 5 reasons why you deserve your goal as a reminder

-Know that life can be tough with challenging moments

-You need a purpose in your life to get through the tough times.

*Your purpose can be anything. God speaks of serving others if you need a place to start*

8. Master Your Skill

-Increase your level of confidence by finding something that you are passionate about and become the best at it

-Only compete with yourself and no one else

9. Be Relentless

-Recognize that you will go through hard times

-It doesn’t matter how hard you get hit, but that you get up to continue the fight

-In the face of hard times, BE RELENTLESS!

10. Take Action

-Don’t wait for the “right time”

-The ideal situation does not exist

-Take action now towards your goals

-If you believe it, you can see it

-Don’t become discouraged if others do not see what you see

11. Focus On Something Larger Than Yourself

-Find a cause to contribute to that makes a difference

-It will drive you to become more, to become better.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” Les Brown

Need Fuel? 12 Inspiring Quotes To Get You Through the Day

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We have all bad days, don’t we? You guys know I have. One way that I have shared getting through difficult moments in my life is listening and memorizing motivational speeches and quotes. It helps replace my negative thoughts with positive ones. Since I’ve been practicing this, I find myself being more positive whenever a discouraging thought pops into my mind. Experts now say that it takes 21 days to form a habit. So, 21 days of replacing negative thoughts with more inspiring ones are definitely something that will help defeat depression in the long run. 

Some people believe that words are powerless, but we should know better by now that words have the power to hurt, heal, hinder, harm, humiliate, and humble. We all have heard the saying “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This couldn’t be furthest from the truth. Hurtful words having started wars, destroyed families, and has caused unimaginable pain.

We now live in a world where everyone’s words are being read online every day, all day. In my opinion, we have more social interactions online than in-person interactions. Think about it. We communicate a lot via social media, blog outlets, emails, and text messages. We have the ability to communicate with millions of people simultaneously in a matter of seconds. What a time to be alive, right? We spend a lot of time reading other people’s thoughts and opinions, good and bad. My experience with social media has been egregious. It is actually one of the reason’s why I decided to start a blog. I want to spread more positivity vibes online, since as a society, we spend so much time on here. I’ve noticed that there a lot of people who would rather spread more negative energy than positive energy, but that’s not what I want for our children and the following generations to come. I want them to understand that words are powerful; written, typed, said aloud; they are powerful. As human beings, we should uplift and help each other get through this thing called life.  Below are a few words by some really awesome people who figured out how to overcome the negative energy and push forward. Please judge the message, not the messenger.

“Once you choose hope, anything is possible.” -Christopher Reeves

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. only through experience of trial and suffering can the Soul be strengthened, Vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” -Helen Keller

“Getting better from depression demands a lifelong commitment. I’ve made that commitment for my life’s sake and for those who love me.” -Susan Polis Schutz

“A positive attiitude gives you power over your circumstance, instead of your circumstances having power over you.” -Joyce Meyer

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually fear that you will make one.” -Elbert Hubbard

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.” -Nelson Mandela

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” -Vivian Greene

“Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and twice as beautiful as you’ve ever imagined.” – Dr Suess

“Never be limited by others people limited imaginations.” -Dr Mae Jemison

“Success is to be measured  not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” -Booker T Washington

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person and some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” -Former President Barack Obama

Ah Ha! There’s My Motivation!

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Recently, I’ve been pushed to the edge. So far so, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it back. Then, I was given a sudden reminder of why I’m fighting this fight in the first place; my family. It may sound a little cliche, but my children are the most important aspects of my life; emotionally, physically, spiritually. God trusted me to raise these beautiful people to value their lives and to serve humanity as instructed by God. But I can’t do any of that if my head is unstable. I’ll admit it. I’ve allowed people and circumstances to stress me out so much, I lost sight of why I was fighting. Now, after support from my husband, family members, and God, I was able to see why I NEED to fight.

I made a list of Daily Goals that I have to do no matter what, no excuses. There are only about 7 small tasks, but when I accomplish one, I feel even more inspired to accomplish the others. Hopefully, this will lead to my list growing with more difficult tasks that will lead to accomplishing my goals, thus getting the breath of air I spoke about in my last post Living with Depression. I know, once I catch the first breath after drowning for so long, I will be able to swim to land in no time and that moment….that moment is THE MOMENT! that will define the rest of this journey.

One item on my list is to listen to motivational speeches. It’s a way to get pumped up in the morning to start my day. When I’m in pain, I’ve begun a terrible habit of concentrating on that pain and the more I would concentrate on it, the more it would hurt. Then I would give myself excuses as to why I shouldn’t get up. Then…my mind would wonder to even darker places. It was a bad cycle. So, motivational videos help replace those negative thoughts. I’m too busy listening to what they are saying to listen to my own thoughts. Eventually, my thoughts will become those of the motivational speakers and I would no longer need to listen to them, well, maybe not as often.

I would like to share a video that really helped me get over a couple of fears I am having about moving forward. Take a listen and maybe it could help you as well. Sorry, I could only post the link that’ll take you to YouTube. Thanks for understanding 🙂

FIND YOURSELF MOTIVATIONAL VIDEO 2017

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” -Francis of Assisi

 

Side Note* I just became extremely overwhelmed while writing this. I began thinking, “what am I doing?” ,”whos going to read this?”, “people won’t like this”, “this is too much information I’m sharing.” <—– It’s these thoughts that confirm why I should continue to share my thoughts, as crazy as they may seem.  There has to be someone out there that can relate, right? 

Living with Depression

Emotionally, today was a rough day for me. Lately, I’ve been feeling this doom cloud hovering over me every second of every day. Depression is apart of my life, full time. Meaning, it is something that has not gone away and most likely will not go away. Like any illness, it can be a struggle if not properly maintained. People who don’t understand try to offer what they think is great advice; “pray, think happy thoughts, try not to stress, try not to worry.” Anyone who lives with depression knows it’s not something you can “get over”. It is literally a chemical imbalance in the brain. Some are fortunate enough that they don’t have highs and lows. They can change their diet, meditate a little and they’re back to normal. People like me, it’s not so easy. Sometimes the emotions are so strong, it feels like daggers are constantly moving in and out of your mind and body.

Today, I had a bit of a meltdown. I’ve always been pretty good at explaining my feelings, but for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been at a lost for words, until today. It was something that my husband said that made the floodgates open and my emotions and words were finally in sync.

Have you ever felt like you were drowning? Like, your entire life is engulfed in water and you fight every day, all day just to try to get your head above water. Not even your head, maybe just your face. You know that if you get one breath, one inhale, then you’ll have more strength to pull yourself out of the water completely. You have people around you who try to understand by throwing you a life jacket, rope, anything that they feel you need to pull yourself out, but you know you need more than that. At this point, it’s either fight or flight. Giving up isn’t an option, but you’re getting so tired. The more tired you get, the further you sink into the ocean. Slowly watching the light from the sun become further away. It’s so dark and so cold.   This is what I was able to explain to my husband after weeks of not knowing.

He then explained that he knew exactly what I was going through because he has been there, feeling the exact same way. It gave me a lot of hope because he is in such a great place and if God could do it for him, then I know he would do it for me. At that moment, I felt less abandoned by God. He reminded me, through my husband, that He has not forgotten me. He sees every tear and hears every prayer. During this storm, He has made it abundantly clear, that I will be clear of any illness and disease and I will be blessed beyond my wildest dreams.

Even though some people may not understand what I am going through, I have family and friends who constantly throw a life jacket or rope to help save me. Those are the ones that I think about when I am unable to see through the darkness. I am truly blessed to have people who want to see me succeed. When I become better and I’m able to look back at days like today and laugh, they will be apart of my “road to success” story; how I fought the depression and lupus demons and won! Until then, I will walk this journey and trust God’s process.

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them — every day begin the task anew.” -Saint Francis de Sales

Changing your Mindset; Becoming More Mindful

Imagine, for weeks at a time, you are unable to sleep, eat, or even function. Your mind is so heavy and so clouded, that you are unable to see the wonderful things in your life. Some time has passed and now you are able to see the beauty in things that you weren’t able to before. Spiritually, you feel hopeful and that every challenge is just one step closer to becoming who God wants you to be. Well, this is definitely me! I struggle with depression, but instead of seeing the glass half empty, I embrace the knowledge that every glass is half full. All because of I am learning about managing my stress and mindfulness, which is, “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

What is Depression? A lot of people have a misconception of what depression is and how it can develop a life of its own. There are two main types of depression that you may be experiencing; reactive depression and clinical depression.

Reactive Depression

  • Medications, such as steroids, are known to make you more emotional and prone to depression.
  • Common in people with Lupus
  • Since Lupus directly involves our nervous system, it causes such symptoms like memory issues, difficulty concentrating, confusion, and mood swings.
  • Overall, sickness can cause more sickness

Symptoms of Clinical Depression

  • Feeling like a failure and that nobody loves you
  • Feelings of hopeless, empty, or lost
  • Losing interest in things you once enjoyed to do
  • Feeling like life is worthless and that you can’t go on

If you have Lupus or any other auto-immune disorder, you may be experiencing one of these or both. Personally, I’ve struggled with depression way before I was diagnosed with Lupus. Depression is a lifelong struggle for me. It is something that I’ve had to come to grips with and accept. It’s like any other illness, such as Lupus, that I have to manage, most times on a daily basis. Giving up is not an option and money is extremely tight, so I’ve had to research free ways to become healthier; meditation, maintain a healthy diet (which is hard!), prayer, and mindfulness.

I am mindful of my condition in this present moment while acknowledging my feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. I have Lupus, there I said it. But, Lupus doesn’t have me! I have accepted that stress is apart of everyday life. It’s how I choose to deal with stress that determines how I feel overall. Chronic stress is like kryptonite to lupus warriors. It makes our flare up so much more difficult. So we have to reduce our stress.

Ways I’m Learning To Reduce Stress

  • Eliminate triggers- I’ve had to think long and hard about what and who stresses me out. Example, Facebook stresses me out. The only thing that I get when I walk away from scrolling down my timeliness is stress, worry, anger, and frustration. So, I deactivated my profile. Right now, I am unable to separate those feelings. When I close the app, I still have the world’s destruction and everyone’s opinion about it, on my mind. It is so unhealthy.  
  • Exercise
    • You don’t have to exercise, exactly. You can do yoga, walk around the block, or simply walk to the mailbox. There are days that we can’t or won’t move due to pain, but being proactive helps you feel better, more accomplished.
    • You can do this 2-3 times a week. Pace yourself and know your limits.
  • Eat Healthier Foods
    • For lupus warriors, it would be best if we ate more anti-inflammatory foods.
    • Foods That Fight Inflammation
    • Avoid foods that worsen inflammation, such as, soda, pastries, margarine, lard, white bread, and red meat.
  • Mindfulness Meditation
    • Mindfulness Meditation is all about directing your attention to the current moment and accepting that things are the way that they are. In regards to lupus warriors, we have to accept that this is what we are dealing with and calmly regain a sense of control over our lives and this disease.
    • Make time to meditate, even if for a few minutes, every day.
    • Find a quiet space
    • Sit up straight with your legs and upper body relaxed. Good posture helps you breath easier.
    • Be aware of each body part, and try to become completely relaxed.
    • Focus on your breathing. Breathe in through your nose (extending your belly outwards) and slowly out through your mouth.
    • Start in slow increments; meditate for 5 minutes and increase daily or weekly.
    • Personally, I like to have mediation music playing in the background to help me focus.
    • How to Guide to Mindful Meditation

Being a lupus warrior is exactly that, I am a warrior. I fight battles every day. Some caused by everyday life and some caused this illness. There are some circumstances that I am unable to change, but how I choose to deal with them is half the battle.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from any of the symptoms above, please talk to somebody about them and/or your doctor. Depression is life-altering and should be taken seriously. Be your own advocate. You simply may be dealing with receptive depression, but there is a fine line between that and clinical depression. Also, here is a Stress Test that helps you determine how stressed you are. There are others like it online.

   “In this moment, there is plenty of time. In this moment, you are precisely as you should be. In this moment, there is infinite possibility.” ~Victoria Moran

Resources
Dr. Therese Tryniecki, Phd
Lupus Foundation of America Heartland Chapter
Suzette B's Blog

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The Christian Tech-Nerd

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