Reflecting {restore}

My word for 2013 is {restore}

This time last year, we didn’t know where we’d be moving. I had fasted through Advent. Phil was out of town for work almost all of that time. My dad had been diagnosed on Thanksgiving with an aggressive form of cancer and we didn’t think he’d make it to Christmas.

From last December to now, I have spent more weeks fasting than not. This once-atheist girl just spent more time fasting in  a year than not? This past year, I chose (willingly) to seek God instead of His people by way of a local congregation and He let me. He let me find pleasure in Him, security, protection, joy.

“For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord, because they have called you an outcast…”

Jeremiah 30:17

This word “restore” in this verse in Hebrew seems to mean to ascend, to spring up, grow, shoot forth, to come up (before God,)  to bring up, draw up, train…

 

I haven’t met any new friends in Cedar Rapids. We’ve been here nearly a year now and it’s ok with me. I have absolutely loved this time of being alone with my family and with God.

I do really feel like I’ve “come up before God” this year.

Not everything has been easy or nice. I had to make hard choices, some impacting familial relationships that just wrecked me. I really struggled with the fact that bread and wine are poison to my body. Good stuff happened, too. My dad is still alive today. I am back to editing and writing. My ex-husband apologized after 20 years. God freed me completely from I lie I was believing, a lie that really held me back. My health had indeed been restored.

It’s been a year of this:

Your job is to pull up and tear down,
take apart and demolish,
And then start over,
building and planting.

Jeremiah 1:10

Spiritually, professionally, mentally, emotionally, and physically.  Old ways have been demolished, pains, fears, beliefs–all torn down. I guess this is where the work of starting over begins? Building and planting.  I feel like I’ve been in somewhat of a rut for the past decade. It doesn’t feel like that anymore.

Looking back at my words, it seems there is a clear message:

Simplify. {2008}
Simplify. {2009}
Simplify. {2010}
Believe. {2011}
Grace. {2012}
Restore {2013}

Get rid of stuff–simplify. Then Believe, Grace, Restore. They’re all very much connected to the bigger picture of healing that God has had me working on for so long. I’ve had a full year, but honestly, one of the better years of the past decade. It was a very profound year, indeed.

Fuckin’ Perfect

Brave.

I’ve been hearing that a lot lately in regards to both my professional life and my private, personal life.

Yet I sit here and my eyes overfill and pain spills down my face. I listen to this and I tell myself I am not what they say I am.

Pink “Fuckin Perfect”on Vimeo.

I can ignore it for a long time. I can give second chances. I can forgive, I have forgiven, I will forgive again. again. again.

But what I will not do is submit myself to the abuse that others dish out with no regard.

I don’t know how it happened. How it all came to blows on the same day, the same moment.

I was making a professional resignation from an organization I’ve been a member of for nearly a decade.  Y’know what. Wait. Let’s be clear here. The people  in that organization have become family to me. We’ve fought, argued, debated, grown, and always–always we’ve loved.  It is not those people I walked away from, those people joined arms in support and walked away as well. It’s really two of the officers of the now disbanded Indiana Horror Writers that I took a stand against. A couple of the officers made some poor choices with sexist language and after trying to deal with it as a group, without resolution, six of us gave our resignations and ended our affiliation with the Indiana Horror Writers. One of us has control over the digital assets of the organization and we’ll see what happens next.  The two men we had problems with are forming another group, people are taking sides. More than that though, I’m accused of being unprofessional, a liar, unreasonable. My posts were deleted, I was removed from the organization’s forums, blocked from one of the officer’s Facebook friends list, was told I couldn’t resign because I wasn’t an officer, talked about in a private forum I was removed from, but all the while told that the doors are open and it’s a safe and comfortable place to discuss the issues. I was told it’s my fault. The message is clear: Shut up.

Safe does not equal degrading me, attempting to shut me up, or trying to control me.

At the very moment I hit submit, and I’m really not kidding, the very moment, I received a phone call from my dad, who proceeded to tear me to shreds verbally. I was called names, accused of stealing money, threatened, and made to feel guilty because it’s my fault. I was hung up on more times than I care to count. And then, one time, the phone didn’t disconnect and I heard what dad was saying to my sister about me. I heard the names they were calling me. The message is clear: Shut up.

If I listen to these people I’m a liar, a thief, a bitchy broad, a hard head, I’m unprofessional, disrespectful, lazy, jobless, and nothing is enough. I’m not enough, I didn’t do enough, I don’t do enough, I’ll never be enough. Never.

{like when I was a child, I was a slut, a bitch, a whore, a liar, a thief, worthless, told that I should have never been born, told that I was brought into the world and can be taken out of it. I used to pretend I was adopted because that made more sense to me.}

I listen this the song again. again. again. Fuckin’ Perfect…

to drown them out.

because they think they’re the victims.
they cry about injustice and how they’re being wronged by me.

Months ago, they were all told how to fix the issues that came to a head on Monday. Resolutions were spoken. Ignored. Because they won’t own up to their parts, I am the punching bag.

{brave i am not}

After the dual meltdowns Monday morning, so much adrenaline ran through me I thought I’d puke. I was shaking so much for so long and I couldn’t make it stop. I cried more that day than I cried when my uncle hung himself and when my mom died.

I stood up and said, Fuck this. This is why my body is in adrenal failure. Because people who say they love me haven’t the first fucking clue of what it means. I will not submit myself to this for one more second. And if you hate me, it will eat you alive, not me.

You don’t like my attitude, my words, my language, my song? Leave. Yes. These are my true colors they have always been my true colors and one thing I have never, ever done is hid this side of me. So you go ahead and blame me so you don’t have to look in the mirror. So you don’t have to change. So you don’t have to own up to what you did. You go ahead and post about me and talk about me and call me names. Tell stories so people take your side.

I do not care if another soul on this earth believes me or thinks I’m a horrible. Turn the whole world against me if you must. I am ok with that. I thought I couldn’t live with these decisions, but I found out I can.

This is not brave. This is survival. This is the last straw in a long line of straws that I have allowed to decimate my physical, mental, and emotional health. If you think this is about just one little incident, think again. It’s about a lifetime of people treating me like shit and I’m not doing it any longer. So if that means leaving organizations I love and walking away from people I love, so be it. Go tell someone else what I horrible bitch I am. I’m not going to shower myself in insults and bathe in lies. I’m not going to eat your hurtful words nor drink your warped version of love.

Fasting {Weeks 11-12}

I have learned SO much in the last couple of weeks about my mind/body/spirit healing.

The assimilation of knowledge is at a breakthrough level for me. In a way it seems like I should have already known this stuff, but then I’m not sure I could have.  I think we’ve all been programmed to believe that the mind is separate from the body which is separate from the spirit and the ways I’ve been trying to go about healing have been based on systems that propagate that belief. I *think* I’m learning that a new system needs to be created. And since my strength in life is to create efficient systems, I’m on task and challenged enough to be consumed with this.

I don’t know if I can rightly regurgitate the things I’ve been putting together, but I’m going to try.

May 15th, I had this dream:

I was at a conference and there was a sign for free hair styling. I FB’d the company and got an appointment. When I got there, they was also some kind of newly discovered stone therapy for relaxing. It looked a lot like the hot stone thing at spas but the stone was special, supposed to draw negative energy out. The lady put me in the chair and told me how to put my hands and it was so uncomfortable. She left the room to get the stones and the chair folded up on me! She came running in apologizing and fixed it. She put hot stones on my lower back but they weren’t hot enough for me.

When finished, I was supposed to walk down the street for some reason. I had a huge tub full of art supplies and also rocks in a back pack. It was so heavy and I was really upset that it was not relieving my stress. I stopped and used blue watercolors to write something on a wall. I don’t remember what I wrote. Dr. House said that I didn’t have to lug all that stuff around. He told me to take one rock and 2 or 3 of the art things. So I did. First I pulled out a Spongebob foam character and thought, “No way am I taking this with me, and threw it back!” I picked 3 things (don’t know what) and I was just ecstatic and hugged him and them got on a bus.

Found a pair of Con-way (where Phil works in waking life) pants like Phil‘s hung nicely across the entryway of the bus. I picked them up so I could text Phil and probably take them to him. They weren’t his though. And they had a pair of long johns still inside.

I took my seat and texted Phil then tried to figure out what stop I needed. I asked a girl who was about to exit on the next stop and she looked at my ticket and said I probably had 10-12 more stops and the last one was the one I needed. She pointed to the last three letter abbreviated stop: JOP and said “Joplin is your stop.”

I know the Spongebob meaning: my friend and I joke a lot about a Spongebob episode where he procrastinates by doing ALL kinds of things other than what he’s supposed to do. So when we’re procrastinating we call it Spongebob Syndrome and joke about sharpening pencils. So I’m thinking that I need to get rid of my tendency to procrastinate and quit lugging that around!

I’ve also had other dreams about House characters. I think House represents my intellect and/or common sense. He’s bold, to the point, and says things I should already know.

Spongebob-Procrastination

Since my adrenal system is a wreck (adrenal failure is the diagnosis–stemming from chronic inflammation–stemming from gluten intolerance) I’ve been working (hard!) on doing the right things for my body in order to heal.  Under stress (not just external stress, but also internal stress, like fighting off gluten) my body releases stress hormones constantly which destroys a body. Eliminating gluten was just one step towards helping. It has stopped the main cause of the stress. But in order to heal, my body needs the relaxation hormones released. And I’ve been working towards being aware of what I’m doing to harm that process.

The dream said get rid of procrastination. I was like, ok sure. But really, is it that big of a deal?

Well. I learned, indeed, it is.

As an assignment from my endocrinologist, I’m reading Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. I read this and nearly fell over.

Two neurotransmitters put the brain on alert: norepinephrine arouses attention, then dopamine sharpens and focuses it. An imbalance of these neurotransmitters is why some people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHA) come across as stress junkies. They have to get stressed to focus. It’s one of the primary factors in procrastination. People learn to wait until the Sword of Damocles is ready to fall–it’s only then, when stress unleashes norepinephrine and dopamine, that they can sit down and do the work.

In reality, I’ve wondered often if I have ADHD but didn’t pursue an official diagnosis. I can’t say for sure why. But after the dream and then reading this I started to pay attention and I’m fairly certain I do have ADHD and I think my body is saying that I need to learn to deal with that in order for the healing to continue.

That is a breakthrough.

And yet, there’s more. But I think I should break up the posts so they don’t get too long and technical. So for today, I feel amazing that I asked God to reveal to me what is hindering my healing and (at least part of it) has been revealed.

I don’t know the best way to fix it yet. I think I’m on the path to discovering something and I’ll get into that in my next post. I learned all of this and immediately learned that the verse God gave me at the very beginning of this fast is now coming to play and I would’ve never in a million years guessed it related to the healing of my adrenal system.

Mucho Excellent News!!

My follow up appointment with my endocrinologist (who specializes in chronic inflammation) was today and the results of all my bloodwork and salivary hormone tests were (for the most part) excellent news!  Excellent because everything is fixable!! Which is a HUGE relief!!

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  • So far (with Levoxyl) my thyroid levels are at a good range.
  • I have a significant Vitamin D deficiency. I’ll be taking a daily dose of 5,000 IU
  • Something about MTHFR with homocysteine elevations (converts dietary folic acid to “cell ready” folate. I’ll be taking a daily dose of vessel care.
  • C-reactive protein highly elevated even after 2.5 months of eating gluten free which indicates chronic inflammation. I’ll be sticking with the gluten free diet to heal my body.
  • Low cortisol causing adrenal hypofunction (slow function.) I’ll be taking a daily dose of AdaptenAll.
  • Need to do daily pilates and yoga.

And that’s it! I’ll have my thyroid levels checked again in May.  Doc said I should start feeling great soon and even start losing weight!!

2012 {year of grace}

After praying intentionally about a word to guide my year, God gave me the word “grace.”  I knew it wouldn’t be easy because I am not the most grace-giving person. Not by a long shot. (the year before was “believe” and the previous three years the same word surfaced over and over: “simplify.”)

I had been thinking to myself what a bad year 2012 was. Maybe it was just difficult to process? Because looking back, it was a pretty exciting and overwhelming year.  I was sick for a good portion of this year, but thankfully feel like I’m on the road to recovery.

I learned a lot about (perceived) friendships, letting go of negative things, spirit-driven friendships, listening to God, obeying God, trusting God, and God’s amazing grace.  I think I worked really hard on my creativity and am humbled at the opportunitities I’ve had to share the fruits of my labor. Which makes me so full of joy and peace and love…it’s almost inconceivable.  And that makes me think that God’s biggest lesson in grace was the hard and difficult work I did (not just physical work, but mental work) is rewarded by the hard-to-fathom peace, joy, and love that comes in the form of others appreciating what I do.

Walking through 2012 with “grace” as my guide, I realized grace isn’t just something I give, it’s something I receive daily. Not just from God but from people I share this life with.  Seems pretty simple, but sometimes I don’t see the simple things (thus three years of the word simplfy! LOL)

I hope I’ll learn to give grace as well as those in my life have given it to me.

 

 

January

  • invited to do my first solo art exhibition (not jut one show, but two in two different cities!)
  • Spent 6 straight weeks, 12+ hours a day,  creating 30 new paintings for the show.

February

March

    • “Grace Undone” my first solo exhibition of my career opened at the Hammond Art Center
    • I turned 40

077

April

  • Started private art lessons with Justin Vining
  • Planted a teeny, tiny garden, that turned out to be phenomenal!

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May

  • helped facilitate our youth group’s Disciple Now weekend. This was one of the highlights of the year, seeing so many kids so in love with Jesus.
  • Taught my first Visual Prayer workshop at a conference (Mo*con, Indianapolis, IN)

June

  • dad nearly died on the same day mom did two years previous, but miraculously recovered.
  • The reason for the March-May fast became more clear.
  • Started painting and drawing lessons at the South Bend Art Museum

July

    • ended Visual Prayer monthly workshops after 2 years
    • One year later. Lessons learned after Phil being fired and being forced to a house and city we hadn’t chosen.
    • Friends Angie and Stan Poole visited from Texas, hadn’t seen my dear Angie since 2006!
    • Started to see a major improvement in my painting/drawing skills after several months of lessons

Boot

August

  • Forced to leave our church after our pastor and youth pastor moved on to jobs with the state and a pastor from the past reared his ugly head again.
  • kicked off my professional photography career, it had only been a hobby until this year
  • First ever street art show  (Miller Beach, IN)

September

    • went completely gluten free
    • Taught my first out-of-state Visual Prayer workshop (Creative Soul, Grayslake, IL)
    • completed SBC church planting “basic training”
    • Second street art show of the year (South Bend, IN)
    • Second solo art exhibition of my career (Cedar Lake, IN)

Done!!!!!!

  • Third street art show of the year (Chesterton, IN)

October

  • Zane turned 13
  • Phil was hired at Con-way and started 13 weeks of management training, found out that it’s likely we’ll have to relocate.

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November

  • “Limitless” tattoo!! (which will be my word for the decade. My 40’s will be Limitless!!)
Limitless tattoo
  • dad was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer of the throat with a huge tumor wrapped around his carotid and jugular. We didn’t think he’d make it to the end of 2012.

December

  • dad survived his simultaneous radiation and chemo treatments!! Doctors are now talking long-term remission!!
  • We are definitely relocating, yet we still don’t know where we’re going!

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Not only MSG, Additive, Preservative, and Chemical Free–Now Gluten Free

I went to see an endocrinologist in August and she asked me to go gluten free. (Ok. Dairy free, too, but one step at a time!!)

We’ve been eating gluten free since September 1.   I’ve been doing (almost) daily updates on Facebook in case you want to follow along.

I waited many months for my appointment with the endocrinologist because she came very highly recommended. But even before I made the appointment, several months worth of problems stacked up. My hair has been falling out, my skin is awful, my eczema has come back, *always tired* like always tired, exhausted, afternoon crashes…

and then the pain started. First my muscles (alllll of them) felt heavy, like after a long time swimming, when you first get out of the water–like that. It was happening more often than not. A few weeks later, my muscles felt like I had just had a great workout at the gym, except for that exhaustion and pain thing that kept me on my chair all day long.  Then a few weeks after that, my feet started seizing up. I would have this pain that felt like an exposed hot nerve and the pain seared through my whole foot, my foot would actually contract during the pain. Several times this happened while I was walking down the stairs and I nearly fell down them.  Then (yes, more) my calves started cramping up close to the time or during the time the hot-nerve pain was pulsating in my feet. Then, in order to fall asleep one night, I took a muscle relaxer. I haven’t had one of those in over 20 years.  I was already crying from the pain before I took it–and I continued to cry myself to sleep.

And listen. I have a very high pain tolerance.

I was afraid to walk, afraid to drive and just afraid.  No. I didn’t share any of this with anyone but my husband and a couple of close friends.

I started Googling the foot pain and found someone who described my pain to perfection–on an MS support group.  So I looked at the symptoms of MS and yeah.

So. Gluten free. Day one was AMAZING.
Day two. Even more AMAZING.
Day three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and now ten???  Listen.

NO PAIN.

NO EXHAUSTION.

I feel amazing. Not everything is up to par, but the no pain and no exhaustion thing? BIG. Like HUGE.

I simply wouldn’t have ever believed it if we hadn’t changed our eating.  Understand that we were already MSG, chemical, additive, and preservative free when we made this latest gluten free change. So we’re not buying a bunch of prepackaged gluten free stuff (actually, there’s very little that we buy prepackaged.) Everything we cook is from scratch. And I know that makes a huge difference in our lives.