Wednesday, July 18, 2012

[THP] 20m Happy Memory - Hopi Reservation

My uncle and I piled into the car together, with all our camping gear, clothing, and all the food we could back (both of us very frugal). We set off early in the morning, but already the sun was bright in the clear blue sky that stretched across the front range. Traffic was light, but mountain activities had already started by the time we met the foothills, with BMX Bike rallies in full swing. We passed by the rich houses of the rocket and satellite scientists that worked near by. My uncle told of where various mountain roads lead (his family has been in Colorado since the Pioneer days). We smoked cigarettes and talked of old travels, talked about where we where heading, and what we were seeing that very moment.

He was a delight to travel with, and we were even invited to stay at one of the local's house (a privileged not often extended to outsiders, but we were extended family and my uncle George is a delight to talk to for people who are talkers). My pain forced my to move outside in the middle of the night, as the sand was softer to sleep on than the floor (everyone forgot the air mattress). So I moved my sleeping bag outside, knowing I had gotten a great night sleep on the soft desert sand before, and I was joined there by his dogs, who welcomed the company (as did I -- I love dogs) as we welcomed each other's warmth. The moon was full and so bright it was like a street lamp, but I found a way to shadow my eyes and sleep.

I woke up just before dawn, which I love doing. I was able to take my morning constitution, get my medication in me and get a good smoke in before people started waking up for breakfast. I watched the sky go from midnight blue, to a smoky Prussian blue, to that green-yellow it sometimes gets right before the rose of dawn begins... Watching the last stars wink out as I hear people shuffle to the outhouse and coffee brewing.

I heard my uncle say something after I had stepped outside the house. It rocked my to my core.

"You know... she's a walking miracle...."

I didn't hear anything after that, but I'm sure he went into an explanation about my health. Still, I had heard enough. He called me a walking miracle. This was a religious man, who didn't say such things lightly. My hosts, of course, didn't know that, but I did, so that he said it about me was all the more humbling. I vowed at that moment to respect his statement and start to treat myself with more respect, and learn the tools I needed to to treat myself with kindness instead of criticism all the time.

Part of that is history in my running This Happiness Project. [And that's my 20 minutes... tune in for more!]

Sunday, July 15, 2012

[THP] 20m Happy Memory - Pain Control

I had received my prescription, and I had taken my pills. It had been long enough for the pills to get into my system. And I want to go do something, bracing myself for the pain and exhaustion that would follow. But it didn't come. At first I didn't believe it. I thought it was just waiting around the corner, ready to pounce on me, as it had done, every single time, for the past 10 years. I could do things, sure, but there was always a monster of consuming pain, waiting for me on the other side. Not this time. I had pain control.

I couldn't believe it. I did a quiet dance in my head. I didn't dare celebrate yet. I'd had drugs work for 20 hours then quit (Depakote). I'd had drugs work for 3 days then quit (Neurontin). I had to be cautious with my optimism, but it was there. A rising joy that maybe this time we'd finally gotten it right. I had faith in this medication, after all, it's a narcotic. I'd had narcotics not work on me before (Fentanyl), so I knew if this one worked at all is should work completely. And signs were good! The monster wasn't there. The room usually filled with pain and agony, was empty. I was stunned.

And now I'm stunned that I'm giddy with happiness to do stupidly bothersome chores, like mow the lawn. It's hard, and I need to use my mind as well as my body. And every moment I can sweat and exert my muscles, I'm just laughing with delight inside. I haven't been able to do this, even if I wanted to, even if I had to, for 10 years. Now I can, and it's marvelous! Being able to clean the house? Yes, please!! OMG, everything is showroom perfect!

I do have to pace myself, but now I can trust my body to be more realistic in its complaints! I'm not going to be punished for every little thing I do! I'm not in trouble anymore. I can make my life my own again---I have the freedom to make the choices >I want to make, rather than have my body just say no. Oh.... it's so AMAZING!!

There's so much that I want to do, and like a little kid who has finally been let out for summer, I'm going after everything I put on my wish list or jealousy list while I was sick. Gardening is the first. I want fresh grown fruit for my jams and pies! Hold the phone, it's so wonderful! And Asian veggies?? OMG, must have! This is all so brilliant.

Every morning, I'm happy to wake up. Even if I've got a migraine to ride, that's okay. I can ride it. I might have some terrible mood swings, but they'll pass. I HAVE PAIN CONTROL!! That means that none of this stuff stops me anymore. It can fuss and fight me all it wants, but in the end, I'm going to win now. I'm not going to have to set my life aside for anything, ever again.


Friday, July 13, 2012

[THP] What's My Mountain?

Sometimes, it's really difficult to have direction in life. Should I take this job? Should I sign up for that project? Should I go back to school? It's difficult to know what's going to make us happy. Additionally, our brains are particularly bad at truly anticipating how something is going to affect us. We will predict that a bad event will feel much worse than it ends up being. We're equally poor at determining what will actually make us happy. And that's because only about 10% of my outside life correlates to my happiness. The other 90% is generated internally. Great! Now how do I generate it?

I believe the answer is revealed in a commencement speech given by Neil Gaiman. In it, he talks about never having a career, just having a list of everything he ever wanted to do with his life: write a novel, make a motion picture, make a comic book. He set those dreams up as his "Mountain" and then he made his decisions base on whether or not those decisions would take him closer, or farther away from, the Mountain. He got his first job as a journalist, because that allowed him to ask questions. He could get his answers on how to get further along towards his Mountain that way.

We all have a Mountain in us. It doesn't matter if the idea is big, that's what a Mountain is supposed to be! It's got to be something we can see from far away, large enough that it can attract and hold our attention, even if other things appear on the horizon. A Mountain is something that, after days of trudging a hard path, we can still look up and see that we're heading in the right direction.

That's why it has to be your Mountain, and not anyone else's. If the goal is to build our happiness, then it can't be someone else's Mountain. That makes them happy, not us.

Find Your Mountain
Take out a sheet of paper and make a list of everything you wanted to do with your life. It doesn't matter if it's impossible, put it down anyway. Impossible doesn't matter. The Dream is what's important. We first need to identify what those dreams are, then we can worry about possible or impossible. So close your eyes if you have to and think back to when you were a child, and everything you wanted, even if it's something as fantastic as meeting Spiderman. Just put it down. Did you want to walk on the face of the moon? Be a race car driver? Create your own neighborhood? Breathe underwater? Make video games? What ever came to you in a dream that you thought would be neat? What do you get your hair on fire about? Write it all down. Those are the stones that make up your mountain.

Not Sure? Hampered by Disability?
Don't worry. If you're unsure, or if nothing quite grabs you enough, that's okay. It may be that you have correctly surmised that you don't have anything you're (yet) passionate enough about. That's okay! I stumbled upon what I was looking for. I just followed what seemed like a good idea until then. And surprisingly, all my choices along the way, even though I didn't' realize it at the time, have played their part.

If disability stops you then try to come at the issue from a different angle. Perhaps there's a way to be involved in a new way that accommodates your needs. This isn't always possible, or sometimes it hurts too much to be involved in activities we used to love in a limited capacity. That's understandable and natural. In that case as well, it's probably just a matter of time. You need to explore as much as is possible, and draw from that new things that move you.

New technologies that empower the individual are being designed all the time. Things will become available that weren't before. You'll have new experiences, think new thoughts. Each day, a new beginning.

If you know a direction, excellent. Go there. If not, look inside for who you are, look outside for what you like, and live to experience new things you haven't tried before. It will come to you. You can relax.

I don't have enough money...
Contrary to popular belief, it's not the next big thing that's going to launch you. It's like that old nursery tale about the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady wins the race. Japanese Kaisen says “Don’t write a book, write a page…” You might not have enough money for the big plan, but you might have just enough to get a small project started that would allow you to showcase, demo, or even kick-start the next phase.

I don't have enough education...
First, find out if what you want to do requires an education. If it does, figure out if it's a formal education you need, or if certificates and exams are more the industry standard. Remember that where you graduate from doesn't always have to be where you started. Figure out where you want to be, and work your map backwards from there, until you're able to connect it to where you are now.

I don't have the spoons...
See if you can delay gratification, and just work on a slower time table. If you symptoms are managed, these things are possible, if we're able to not worry about when it gets done, jsut thatit gets done. We will have to reassure ourselves, however, that jsut because things are slow, doesn't mean they're forever stopped. It just takes a little more patience to see progress.

I don't have enough symptom/pain control...
Then don't worry about a Mountain right now. You're in Epic Battle! You've got other things to contend with. If you're able to do things with your Mountain, great! If not... no sweat! You've got other, higher priorities. Once your symptoms become managed, then you can look at really setting a course again. Notice I didn't say cured.... I said managed. Scientific studies have shown that if symptoms are managed, a chronic illness has little to no negative impact on a person's happiness. In fact, it can even be a benefit. However, if the symptoms are not managed, it can be a living hell that's taking all your concentration to deal with.

Don't worry. Your Mountain will wait for you. It will not abandon you. And you might be surprised at how far you're carried forward despite your limitations, once you get some breathing room and a chance to check over your shoulder. There's the constant feeling that you're missing out on life with an unmanaged chronic illness (sometimes even with managed ones). That's natural. That's because we long to do, when we have not been able to do. But that's like summeritis in the last few weeks of school, then a month into summer break, yelling, "I'm bored!" You know all too well what you're missing out on. So use now to make those lists of all the things you want to do, so that once things are managed, you can pounce on those dreams like a tabby on catnip! Or, if it's too much pain to think about it, just relax and know that time changes things. Opportunities arise from the strangest corners...

What are some of your suggestions, or tales of your experience, in looking for your Mountain?

Previously in this series: Building New Habits, Breaking Old Ones

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

[THP] 20 Minutes of Happy Memories...

As part of my phase in to This Happiness Project, This week, I'm starting the exercise of blogging for 20 minutes on a positive experience, past or present. The idea is that by activating those neural pathways, I will strengthen my ability to recall happy things, even in times of stress and sadness. I'm going to be trying this for 2 months (along with my usual MTLA posts). What's two months to try out a theory, right? The scary thing is, I'm actually really, really bad at this!

Let me just try to start by listing times that I know I've been happy, rather than pulling up specific occurrences. I've been happy: dancing, painting, figuring things out, coming up with a delicious turn of phrase, learning, spending time with my friends debating or enjoying the outdoors, learning about new people... My life has not been a lot of that until recently. I've had ten years of my life not being that. Let me shake off the cobwebs here!

I had a great night Monday night. I went out with a friend with drinks where we were able to share some deep, meaningful conversation, have some great laughs at our own expense, and marvel at the wonder of the Universe. I always love conversations like that, and I'd like to think I'm spoiled by the number I've been able to have in my life. It's conversations like that, that renew my charge forward. I got a great line too: "I don't know whether to thank you, or smack you, for being so right." What can I say? I recognize my kind...

We completely lost track of time. That's how good the conversation was. It was supposed to be drinks to beat rush hour and it turned into, "I needed to be home in bed a half hour ago!" We noticed it got dark, and then kinda forgot about it, until: Oops! Still, he's got a new book for me to read, and it's one whose principles seem to actually work... and it's an ebook no less... Pretty spectacular. I enjoyed my energy drinks, he had his Guinness, I ordered some steak and fries. We talked about the behavior of people and positive attitude training, and how hard it is! Oy, this is a lot of work. But when you see it pay off so quickly, it's like! Give me more of that!

If I miss a day, I know from past experience that the best thing to do is don't think two things about it, but apply yourself next the next day. New habits are difficult, and this is about progress, not perfection. This is about happiness, not getting things right. This is about enjoying this and not beating myself up, but going, "Yup. Happens to the best of us. Keep going. It will become habit soon enough." Everything has a learning curve, even if the instructions are understood. If we do everything right, all we're doing is going through the motions. It's only in recovery that we learn how this stuff is really done.

I had to start my 20 minutes over because I became a Negative Noodlehead two days running. I was ready for a fight, a struggle. I wasn't ready to relax and remember happiness. But I've started over until I was able to think of something, even if it was just Monday, and get some positive experience down on paper. Yes, I am coming out of a dark time. There were moments of brightness in it, but the daily pain would steal the enjoyment away, much like a screaming child can make an otherwise enjoyable plane flight a living hell. (My sympathies to parents who travel!)

I had happiness before then, but that's trying to remember a time before I got sick, and all I end up doing is seeing the sickness pop up in my memory, so I'm going to try for more recent times when the illness was there, but managed. That's only been a few months, but I've been able to go camping since then and even rode a dirt bike! I can tell about that next time. My 20 minutes are past up!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

[THP] Building New Habits & Breaking Old Ones

Part of a Facebook Event called The Happiness Project (not to be confused by the book of the same name... no relation)

Going into this event, it may be useful to know some of the concepts for building new habits and breaking old ones. Some of these are ideas from the book, but nothing here is content from the book, unless specifically mentioned. One Path of Least Resistance is (or what Shawn calls, "The 20-Second Rule"). Shawn uses this guideline to help build new habits, and break old ones. Take "20 seconds" (or more... the more the better) away from any task you want encourage yourself to do and add "20 seconds" to any task you want to keep yourself from doing.

Time and time again in psychological studies, it comes up that one of our very base natures is to do what is easy, or to not do at all. This is as deep as biology, because to rest is to conserve energy, even on a molecular level. What it was for our ancestors, the cavemen, was we needed to rest to conserve limited energy for when we needed to do other things, like run from that cave bear. Activity was done largely in bursts. The same is true of other animals. Do you know how much your house cat sleeps?!? 16-20 hours a day. His wild counterparts aren't much different. We are all wired to mostly do nothing.

So the next time you find yourself sitting on the couch doing nothing, instead of out exercising when you know it makes you feel good... Or why you end up sitting home on the couch playing video games, even though it's far more rewarding to go out with friends, understand this---it's not because you're lazy. It's that you're extremely good at conserving energy. Problem is, this becomes an obstacle when trying to form new, healthier habits.

However, this "Path of Least Resistance" attitude can also be used to our advantage. For example, it's far easier in our minds to "Opt-in" (i.e., "option-in," meaning, the choice was made to include you in the option) rather than change our course of action. Organ Donor registries have discovered in recent rears that the mere phrasing of a question can mean the difference between less than 10% of people signing up to more than 90% of people signing up. That is,

"Would you like to be included in the organ donor registry?"
(Check yes to be included.)


"Would you like to not be included in organ donor registry?"
(Check yes to be excluded.)

It's a big decision! So the easier choice is to not check the box at all. The first example got 10% of people to become organ donors. The second received 90% participation in the organ donor program. Just because it's easier to not make the decision. Do I? Don't I? Do I really need my organs when I'm gone? Do I want them to cut em up before they bury me? AHHHH! I don't know, I don't wanna think about this, now, and I've been here long enough! Huge difference in participation rates.

We can think about this when it comes to our daily lives and make new things easier to make a habit, and things we want to quit, more difficult to deal with. Shawn tells the funny story of sleeping in his work-out clothes, because it was more of a pain to change out of them that it was to just go with the flow and put on his running shoes and exercise for the day (exercising in the morning has particular benefits to the mind -- buy the book for details).

On the flip side, if there's a habit that you want to stop, make it more difficult to engage in that habit. Say you want to want to watch less TV. One way to accomplish this would be to remove the batteries from the remote controls and put them in a drawer. Even the small act of adding that much time to watching TV (first I have to find the batteries) can be dissuasive enough, especially if you've left a book you want to finish right by the remotes. That makes the path of least resistance reading a book, rather than watching TV.

In moving forward with your Three Good Things, try to make this exercise as easy as possible. If you're on Facebook, this is as easy as joining The Happiness Project Facebook Event (tagged here as "This Happiness Project"), and you'll get a daily reminder to post your Three Good Things (plus Blogging/Journaling reminders on Sun/Tue/Thu). If you're not a daily user of Facebook, or you would rather participate on paper, try leaving a notebook on your pillow so that your remember to write down your Three Good Things before bed. (You can use this trick for your Blogging/Journaling task, too!)

For your Meditation task, find some music you like that lasts for 5 minutes for the breathing exercise, and one that lasts 20 minutes for the positive visualization exercise. (Ah ha! Didn't know you could music, now, didya? Yes, this is perfectly legit, though music without lyrics is probably the least distracting. IMHO. YMMV.)

Right now (in the Facebook Event) we're discussing simple ways for people to do their Five Conscious Acts of Kindness. There are all sorts of great ideas!

Next up... What's My Mountain?

Monday, July 2, 2012

This Happiness Project

As a society, we've taught ourselves that if we're successful, we'll then be happy. But with each success, we then place the goal post out farther: I need a better job, better living arrangements, better car, better... whatever. And then we can never be happy, because we never get there. But now science has figured out how to turn that around. From a field called Positive Psychology, I bring you, The Happiness Project Facebook Event.

Based on the work of Harvard Psychologist, Shawn Achor, ( or see the video below) This Happiness Project is about using the latest methods of neuroplasticity to train our brains how to be happier.

There are daily exercises, as well as individual projects we're going to go over that you can do at home, all geared towards making a happier you in a month (though you can continue to participate longer if you wish!).

The Happiness Advantage details out how to take this journey into transforming our minds on seeing the positive, and the opportunities available to us. We can use this event to help each other, because building up new patterns of behavior (like eating well) is easier with moral support!

So this is a no-pressure event. If you miss an assignment, don't worry, just try again the next day. See how much you can do, and if it helps you feel better about your life. I want to keep this fun and low pressure. This is about happiness after all!

Here's This Happiness Project:

1. Say three good things that happened to you that day. Shawn alternates in the book between calling this "Three Good Things," and "three things for which we're grateful for," that day. Either one works. Do this every day, posting at the event, your timeline, or in a paper journal.

2. Blog or paper journal about one positive experience, past or present. Write for 20 minutes, three times a week. If you blog, share links here to spread the positive story goodness!

3. Meditate for 5 minutes, every day; just concentrate on breathing in and out. Meditate on something positive (real or imagined beach vacation) for 20 minutes, 3 times a week.

4. Exercise. (They say 45 minutes 3x/week, but if you have heath issues, be sure to go over any exercise plan with your doctor first.)

5. Do 5 conscious acts of kindness. This can include publicly showing your appreciation for someone else's hard work, paying $3 towards lunch of the stranger behind you in the drive thru, calling up customer service just to say everything is working and that you like your products, letting someone go ahead of you in the grocery check-out line, picking up 5 pices of trash in a public park, whatever... Do these 5 Conscious Acts of Kindness once a week.

Studies have shown that we need 4 positive to counteract every 1 negative. That means, for every awful story of despair on the news, you need four positive stories to balance out. For each negative comment you hear about yourself, you need to hear 4 positive comments to come back up. So, post things that help you with your positivity here, and that will help someone else have a positive story for their day! (Feel free to post anything that restores your faith in humanity, here. That could even count as one of your conscious acts of kindness!)

I'll also be posting other fun, uplifting, positive projects that they mention in the book, like: How to give your job meaning, even if your a janitor! How to have happy dreams about the future. How to help make those happy future dreams a reality. All sorts of goodness!

Anyone is welcome to join any time.... Stay for 30 days or stay for more!

Since some people have been eager to start,
Today I began the Three Good Things part of the exercises.

Here's the format. I'll make a daily "Three Good Things!" post some time in the afternoon. Remember, though, that it's good to wait towards the end of our day before sharing. When you're ready, reply to my post with your three good things that happened to you that day, or three things you're grateful for that day.

It's the act of remembering our day, and looking for the good things, and drawing those memories that is a big part of this. But sharing with others is also an important part.

In the book, it mentions how one powerful executive in China decided to share his Three Good Things with his family at dinner each night. Each member of the family participated, too. When the project was over, he didn't want to keep doing it. (In the book it explains why...) But his children then refused to eat dinner until they did the Three Good Things exercise.

It's not just what happens to us that's important. It's that we share it with others, too. This is what brings people together. When we share about good things, everyone's experience of goodness grows. We can actually experience the other person's happiness when they share, because we are then reminded of similar events of happiness in our own lives (or we can imagine such events and experience the happiness that way). Happiness magnifies happiness.

When you're ready, BEGIN! ^_^

Next: Tips on Building New Habits & Breaking Old Ones P.S. I will be blogging here as part of the event, starting August 1.

I had to add a disclaimer... See, I forgot one little thing: the body doesn't care if it's good stress or bad stress. Both include a shot of adrenaline & cortisol. Basically he's exchanging a bad stress for a good stress. But if the problem is with stress itself, regardless of whether it's good or bad, then this system still incurs health costs. I forgot how sick I can get from *good* things happening. I can't lose myself in flow without being really cautious (which is kinda counter-active to flow, so....). While I cannot manage this! I still encourage those with healthier bodies to try!

Why I don't read other blogs... (Confession)

I've been thinking about it for a few days because it's been weighing heavily on my heart. Here I am, blogging away, getting all this support from you, and I have a difficult time turning around and reading what you---my fellow bloggers---have written. Oh, sometimes I'll rediscover Google Reader and go on a blog reading binge. But most of the time I don't keep up. And it's the same reason that healthy people have a difficult time talking to us: It hurts too much to know.

I want to be there for you, to help cheer you on, to lift your spirits up... I want to hear about how you're succeeding, because I want you to be successful in your life. I have trouble hearing about the struggle, pain, and heartache. I want to recognize and deal with that. I want to help. However, I want to keep my mind focused on the positive, and that's difficult to do when I'm reading stories about the negative.

And that's what's so difficult about talking to people with chronic illnesses! If we look at the illness, that's a lot of struggle, a lot of disappointment, a lot of heart-break, a lot to despair over... And for so many people where there's only treatment, never a cure... And for so many other people for whom the illness is just a fight to have it not kill you... I really don't want to hear about how an illness is overwhelming and swallowing up your life.

See, the problem is, I've been through that. When you tell the story of your pain, I feel your pain, I remember my pain. It all comes back in a horrible flood of traumatic memories. I can't handle that on a regular basis. It's too much. I have to be in a mood that feels like every problem is solvable, and I am mighty, before I have the strength to read other blogs. Otherwise, I could find myself awash in memories that then trigger me and leave me shuddering...

I want to hear about everything you're grateful for despite what's going on. I want to hear about how it's difficult, but that you're learning coping (or you're fighting to learn how to cope). I want to hear about how you're successful in dealing with your disease. I want to hear about the humor you've picked up along the way... I want to know about you---your hopes, your dreams, your inspirations. I want to know how your beating back the darkness.

I know about the darkness. I've traveled enough of its depths already. I don't want to know more. That's why I don't read other patient's blogs. It hurts.

Forgive me?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I'm Working Again!!

Bust out the fanfare and call a parade, I'm working again!! Now, it's not an absolute sure thing. I could collapse under the stress and discover that it's not possible... but right now... oh, things look good! I'm able to control my pain through my medication. No one at work is any the wiser that I have this much going on with me... I got my first paycheck this week. A PAYCHECK!!! It was only a few months ago I was dreaming of having my symptoms managed enough so that I could work, and now... holy cow!!

I didn't think this was possible. I didn't think they had the drugs out there that could take care of my pain and not demolish my mind. They do! I didn't think there was a way to control my nausea without putting me to sleep. There is! I didn't think we could get my migraines to a point where I could work through them. We have! I didn't think there was medication for the neuropathy so that I could be reliable enough to write all day. So far, so good...

I'm pacing myself. I'm taking things slowly and not rushing. I'm being cautious with my body and getting plenty of sleep. Right now all I can do is work and sleep during the weekdays. But that's okay. I get SO much of my life back. I don't have anyone else I need to be awake for during the week, so what does it matter? And as my tolerance for activity builds, who knows??

We still have to battle my autoimmune disease. I need to save up so that I can make it through 4 months of treatment. But holy cow, now I have a way to do that!! I've got 9 months... nine months of training wheels, where I still get my SSDI in case this all suddenly falls apart on me again. I think I'm able to keep my Medicare longer, but who knows with this whole Obamacare...

And I realized today that for the past year, I've been able to shower standing up, and only when I was with migraine or the stomach flu did I resort to sitting in the tub! That's HUGE!! That was things started getting scary for me when I originally got sick---I would get too dizzy in the shower and would risk passing out if I tried to stand. It's been over a decade, and I'm now able to shower like a normal person again!!!

*LOL* Oh, but there is a mountain of debt awaiting me. I'm pretty sure it's about the same price as a house (the whole house, not just the down payment). That is daunting. But thankfully, I have a lawyer in the family who might be able to help me restructure my debt. Oooof... that's a huge problem of success: cleaning up the wreckage of my past!

But now I get to clean up the wreckage of my past! Now I can start to be a responsible citizen again! I need to pace myself in this area too, because trying to do too much too fast can leave me broke. I need to be responsible with my finances, of course. However, now I'm not making a wreck anymore. (So far... training wheels, and we'll see...) I'm a really real adult again! I don't need help. I can accept it if its offered, but I don't need it anymore. I can take care of myself!

At the beginning of this disability I was in so much pain I didn't know how I was going to survive, let alone get back to where I was. There were several times where I almost didn't! That was scary... I was lost, deep in the wilderness of chronic illness. Am I out of the woods? Maybe... signs are pointing to yes...


Thank you everyone for your prayers and support during this time. I'm still nervous about my ability to do this, but I know how proud everyone is of me, and for that... bless you. I've felt so worthless and miserable for so long. It's tears of joy now when I choke up. You believe in me, and that means so much. THANK YOU!!