I have absolutely no concept of time anymore! You with me on that? This global pandemic has been at our doorsteps for some time now. It feels like it’s been a year, but it’s only been like a week. Wait, I looked at the calendar and the first case in Colorado was about a month ago. Hold on, what day is it, anyhow?! Through all of it, a new normal is setting in. At the same exact time I feel like I am constantly making decisions that may have huge impacts or are life or death. It’s exhausting, but I’m doing my best to go with the flow.
This constant in flux motion has had it’s stresses at times. Ultimately, though, I am kind of happy to be holed up at home. I am embracing hibernation this winter and welcome the mandated stay at home orders. At least now I have an excuse. Step one: Be okay with being at home all the time. It isn’t a prison sentence. It doesn’t equate to inactivity or boredom. The alone time has been nice. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had plenty of work, taxes and personal tasks to keep me busy that I have yet to sit down and read a book all day or work on my jigsaw puzzle.
I’ve been taking other steps to reduce anxiety. I am trying to limit my online time lately. I am staying informed but spending less time on Facebook in order to limit my exposure to political or coronavirus posts that raise my blood pressure.
As with my career in real estate, the ability to adapt in this time of great upheaval is crucial. Relating things back to nature is a language I appreciate and understand, so I’ve resonated with a few things that the universe has sent my way lately. And they relate to concept of fluidity in the form of water. I started exploring this idea with a water element yoga class – free online through Yoga with Kassandra.
A chat about the elements and a guided meditation the other night through my acupuncturist, Lynne Drakos of A Balanced Crane Acupuncture, was enormously helpful in settling things down and helping me feel more grounded during all of this uncertainty. You know what will always be here no matter what? Rocks and sticks and air and dirt. Despite current climate change discussions, this earth has been through a lot and will most likely still be here, in some form or another, long after anyone reading this post. It gives me comfort to relate things back to nature, but of course, feel free to use whatever format makes the most sense to you.
I am sure you are getting inundated as I am with emails from various retailers, banks, or your local library about all of the virtual museum tours you can take, art and home projects to do, etc etc. My advice is to take one bite at a time. For me it is so overwhelming to have all of these things to do floating around out there. Even more stressful that everyone keeps saying we have all this extra time. I don’t know man, I definitely feel like the days are flying by and I’m not accomplishing everything I want to get done. So, I am working on picking one theme a day, or a week, or whatever amount of prescribed time feels appropriate. I am making it all more manageable, and just like nature, trust that it will all happen in time. Time itself is a human-made concept. Let go of that. Sometimes I have to remind myself to be patient. To just be.
Lately, my intentions have been centered around adaptability. I look to nature for inspiration – I look for water flowing in the streams when I walk the dogs, I am conscious of how much I am drinking (stay hydrated y’all! It’s important for you health on so many levels), and pay attention to it’s lessons of stillness or fluidity. It’s ability to calm or exert incredible force.
In a practical sense, I have things like Asana to keep long term reminders and work projects organized. On a daily basis, my reminders app on my phone is how I stay sane. I put personal and work tasks in there and schedule them for specific days. It helps me know that I am on track, not missing deadlines, and gives me the ability to spread out certain duties. You don’t have to do it all in one day. It’s always changing and becomes a moving target, so pin down what you need to do and when. You’ll feel better, I promise.
On a larger scale, fluidity has helped me a tremendous amount when it comes to managing my MS. Yes, there are all of the unknowns surrounding my physical capabilities, emotional repercussions, or day to day symptoms.
And, tied into all of that has been my exploration of food and my journey to finding a diet that works best for me. It unfortunately is not as simple as “eat this and you’re cured.” I’ve made a lot of changes over the past few years that have resulted in me feeling much, much better. But I still have a lot of work to do.
I was just reading about the importance of your gut bacteria, or microbiome/gut flora in the most recent issue of Momentum put out by the National MS Society, and the incredible impact that can have on your entire body – your immune system specifically. It is not just about digestion. They still have a lot of studies to do, but when it comes to cancer treatment they have found that different microbiomes affect responses to certain treatments.
It is incredibly validating to read about this because my diet is something I’ve been tweaking for a long time now. The whole goal being that my gut flora is in balance and that I am reducing inflammation enough so that my body can function more properly, or allow my medication to work to the best of it’s ability. As the article points out, “we harbor as many bacteria cells in and on our body as our total number of human cells; that is, we are only about 50% human!” phD and professor at the Weill Institute for Neuroscience at the University of California San Francisco points out.
My Naturopath doctor also told me at one point that we have something like 8 lbs of bacteria in our gut. That is crazy! How can it not have a huge impact on how everything functions? So, in an effort to help my body heal and work better, I decided to delve a step further into what I eat. The various protocols and diets I have looked in to are very convincing and seem to have incredible results. But, we all have unique biochemistry, so what, exactly, will work best for me?
In an effort to narrow that down a little better, I took a blood test that measured antibodies to certain foods and my levels of candida yeast. What the test basically does is tells you what foods your body has a reaction to. Some surprising results came back to say the least. One being that I have an extremely high sensitivity to chestnuts. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a chestnut in person, let alone have eaten one, but hey. I that case, avoiding them should be easy.
Some good news – all fruits and veggies are a go. But, that means loosening up my paleo principals and Wahl’s protocol for a little while. Hello peanuts and peas. On the down side, I was thinking that if I were to eat some dairy, that goat would be better since a lot of people with lactose intolerance can do goat products. The proteins are smaller and therefore more easily digested by some people. Not me apparently. Goat cheese is off the table according to my results, with cow milk not being ideal, and other dairy items like eggs to be eaten more sparingly.
So I can still eat some eggs, but need to alternate my breakfast choices a bit. Try a little oatmeal once in a while and see how that goes. Looking forward to adding some breakfast-ey quinoa bowls to the mix. It is a concept that Wahl’s protocol talks a lot about as well. Variety is the spice of life as they say. You need to incorporate multiple vitamins and compounds on a cellular level, and also shouldn’t be over doing it on items that your body needs a break from once in a while.
I’ve been Mediterranean diet inspired but realized that relying on fish as a protein source can be detrimental due to the high levels of mercury in natural caught fish. Paleo/Wahl’s gave me a great framework and had me feeling awesome. Heck, I’ve gone Whole 30 and eliminated just about everything. Adaptability! Fluidity! The journey isn’t over yet. More recently, I am honing in on what my body seems to have negative responses to. The idea being that avoiding food allergies and sensitivities will minimize inflammatory reactions and strengthen my immune system so that recovery can take place more rapidly. In support, I try to do activities like immune boosting yoga.
Instead of a blanket approach to what has worked for a lot of people, I want to find what works for me. The other piece of my lab work to come back a little high was my candida albicans. Put simply, my gut yeast is a bit high. So, I’m starving it out by avoiding sugar. I’m crowding it out by taking probiotics. I’m sending it a hint it’s not wanted by creating an acidic environment which it does not like. A little apple cider vinegar in warm water before meals does the trick. And, I’m avoiding (now) known food allergens like cane sugar, dairy and gluten to reduce immune response and inflammation. All this to restore a healthy balance to all of that microbiome. Gut health is extremely important.
We’ll see how it goes! Thank you for sticking my side as I flow through life and learn along the way. I welcome your feedback if you have tried alternative or traditional routes to finding balance or have advice on how to adapt physically and mentally to your situation. Global pandemic or not.
All the best,