Take this time to reflect!

“Freedom is instantaneous the moment we accept things as they are” – Karen Maezen Miller

I know I know, just what you need, another self-help type blog post. But before you click the x and go back to your daily social media scrolling, take a couple minutes and hear me out.

Trust me, I get it. There are TONS of articles and blog posts being sent out about health, fitness, diet, nutrition, immune systems, business plans, courses you can take, you name it. What they all have in common unfortunately is this conception that because you have all this “time” being quarantined, you “should” take advantage and be “productive”. Notice I put time, should, and productive in quotation marks. That’s because those three words are all relevant to what each particular person is going through. Productive for one person might mean having a clean house and dinner ready by 5 pm, while for others may be just simply getting out of bed by noon and taking a shower. (We’ve all been there). Constantly seeing and reading these posts can have a negative impact on our mental health and psyche. We WANT to be productive, but we’re also just trying to survive. I get that.

Here’s where we can start to shift this mindset.

What if I told you that you can be productive without actually doing anything at all?

You would think that’s a trick right? There has to be some type of catch. NOPE. No trick, (treats optional 🎃 ), just facts. Or words. One word actually. That word is embrace. Yes, really EMBRACE this quarantine. The world has slowed down, dramatically. Events are cancelled, weddings are postponed, schools are online, restaurants are take-out only, gyms are closed, the list goes on. While this is not great for our economy, it IS great for us. We are finally given this opportunity to really SLOW down and REFLECT on our current lives.

But D-rob, how do I embrace the quarantine?

By first ACCEPTING it. You need to accept the current situation for what it is. It’s not going anywhere. No matter what our leaders are saying, it seems that the virus will not fully go away until we get a vaccine, which can take up to a full year. I know when people hear that time frame, they start to worry and get anxious about what that will look like. Try not to think that far ahead. Accept that time frame. Your anxiety and thoughts will not change that.

Okay, so I’ve started to embrace this, now what?

Awesome question. Once you accept and start to embrace this, you’ve already won half the battle. Now you can look inward. Really look inward. Slowing down naturally allows us to reflect on our life. This is where you can start to ask yourself some important questions. Notice I just said ASK. Not answer. You don’t have to answer anything that you are not ready for. By simply asking yourself these questions, you will trigger your subconscious to actively start answering these questions without you thinking about it. I like to call this process “marinating”. Just let those questions marinate for a while. Your answers will come to you when they are ready.

I want to reflect and ask myself the right questions, but I’m afraid I won’t know what to ask. What are some good questions to ask myself?

This process can scare people away because we don’t know the correct questions to ask. And for each person the questions will be noticeably different. Here are three general questions to get your ball rolling. (Physical Education teacher reference 🏀).

1) Are you happy with your current _____?

Simple, but effective. Are you actually happy? Happy with your job? Your relationship? Friends? Health? Weight? Whatever the topic is can apply. Happiness is something that gets overlooked. We get comfortable with our current situation and are often blinded by that level of comfort. However, comfort is not always happiness. Ask yourself that question with each topic and let those marinate for a while. No rush to answer. Remember, you now have all this “time”.

2) If you can change anything in your life, what would that be?

Change scares us. Just seeing that question probably made you cringe. That’s normal. Hopefully for you, the weight of that question is lifted somewhat because you do not need to come up with an answer. Just ask the question. That’s it. Simple.

3) What is your DREAM ______?

Same concept as question number 1. Fill in the blank with your life, relationship, job, health. Many times, we lose track of what our dreams are, or simply become off-course. This question jumpstarts the process to get back on track. Your subconscious is filled with your inner most dreams and desires. It’s time to wake them back up.

How do I ask these questions? Do I read them aloud? Write them down? What works best?

Each person will have a different approach. What I have found that works best is writing them down with a pen and paper, like in a journal or notepad. For some people writing it in their phone works best. For others, repeating the questions aloud helps them. Find what works for you. The key is being relaxed when asking these questions. Right before you go to sleep is often the time when you are most relaxed. Use that to ask yourself these questions. As you sleep, your brain is doing ALL the work for you. Answers will come. (Just like that father who appeared in a baseball diamond in the middle of a Iowa cornfield 🤔⚾️🌽).

I hope this post serves to help you in this reflective process. Reflecting doesn’t have to be this big scary thing. We naturally are reflective creatures, the trick is quieting the noise around us. And in this time, that is the hardest part.

Be patient with this process, and be patient with yourself.

Peace and love,

D-rob ✌️🧘🏻‍♂️

If you liked this post and want to learn more about what questions to ask yourself, you may be interested in my services as a Life Coach. A qualified Life Coach will continue to help and guide you in this reflective process making sure you are asking all of the right questions. They will help you create and work towards new goals and dreams to start improving your life. If you’re interested in what I have to offer and what makes me different, click on the menu tab and select “Who is D-rob?”. That will bring you to my bio and contact information and fill you in a little bit about me. Leave your contact info or shoot me an email! I hope to hear from you soon and look forward to helping you live your best life!

The quest for happiness (inner peace) 🧘🏻‍♂️✌️

Today’s blog won’t be long, I hope. I just wanted to write. You ever get that feeling and REALLY listen to it? You know, ACTUALLY give in and do it. I feel a lot of us put that feeling off because we get sidetracked with the regular demands of life, but simply forget that the number one demand in this life is US. Yes, YOU. That person staring back at you in the mirror (which is probably dirty, windex people 😝). What makes that person in the mirror happy? What drives them? Do more of that. For me, it’s a combination of being creative, and inner peace. That includes writing, reading, meditating, drawing, coloring, jigsaw puzzles, etc. I need to use the right side of the brain regularly or I drive myself mad. And you don’t want to see me mad? (Just take my word for it okay 😂).

What I wanted to write about is simple. The inner peace portion. How do we find it? How do we maintain it? All that good stuff. To some, it seems like mumbo jumbo. To others, it’s not. To me, it’s something I’m continuously seeking, finding, researching, and learning about. The search for happiness is a myth. But the search for inner peace is fact. Don’t mix up the two. You can be happy and peaceful or unhappy but still at peace. On the flip side you can also be sad and still at peace or sad and not at peace. We hold the cards. We decide where we fall. This is the part that people seem to confuse. Many of us are on this unreachable quest for something to make us happy. We’re looking at the next goal, the next day, the next job, the future vacation, the future accomplishment, whatever THAT is, DOES NOT EXIST. And do you know what happens when that future day comes? You don’t magically become happy. You just find another future event to mark on your little iPhone calendars (or Androids 🤦🏻‍♂️), and start looking ahead to that day. Which comes and go’s and now you’re in this cycle that is not making you happy. And notice how I said quest to make us happy. I didn’t say at peace. That’s because you can’t relate to it, yet. And that’s okay. This post is to help you get started on that journey.

Okay, here’s what I want you to do. Close your eyes wherever you are. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Expand your ribs and stomach so it becomes big like a balloon. Now exhale, let all of that air rush out of your nose and squeeze your stomach pulling your belly button towards your spine. As you are breathing really listen to the sound of the air going in and out your nose and throughout your body. Listen closely to any sounds around you. What can you hear? Really try to listen. Good. Now on your next breath observe how your body feels. Are you tense anywhere? Sore? What hurts? Try to pinpoint these areas visually in your head as you are breathing. Perfect. Now repeat this two more times. Open your eyes. How do you feel? Less anxious? More calm? I hope you do. If yes, congratulations, you just spent your first minute being at peace. If no, that’s okay too! Repeat again and again throughout the day until you get that YES!

The reality of searching for inner peace is simple, but not really. Confusing I know but hear me out. Yes, sometimes all it takes is a simple breathing exercise that we just did, which is called mindful meditation. Being mindful is being aware of your surroundings, your body, your breath, just flat out aware. You’re not a zombie in an endless search for your next meal of human flesh (sorry, I just saw Zombieland 2 and it IS almost Halloween). Snap out of your snooze fest. The minute you stop your brain from thinking in the past, or thinking about the future, you have won the battle for inner peace. Do more of that throughout your day, and watch what happens in your life.

There will be times where I will expand on this topic even more, but there are two books that I have read that I recommend to you if you are serious about finding inner peace. They are “The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer, and “The Power of NOW” by Eckhart Tolle. Inner peace is a real thing. No matter what has happened throughout your life, you can be at peace. Or you can be happy. Whatever you want to call it, just stop searching for it. It’s already here. 🤓🧘🏻‍♂️✌️

My Monadnock Adventure

Doesn’t that sound like a Lord of the Rings title? Like a prequel to the Hobbit? (Book and movie reference right off the top).

My Monadnock adventure doesn’t just happen overnight. It was thought about DAYS in advance. Weeks actually. You see, recently I’ve had a few friends and colleagues who’ve shared with me their strong and persuasive recommendations of hiking this majestic New England beauty, so I began to do some research and looked up various reviews and articles that described what hiking Mount Monadnock was like. I looked at the time it took to drive there, what time of day it was heavy populated, which trails to take up and down the mountain, parking, pictures of the trails, and how prepared I would need to be in terms of water, food, and gear. Those answers were planned, but the day I decided to make the drive was just this past Friday. I began looking at the weather for Jaffrey, New Hampshire, where Mount Monadnock is located, and despite showing showers on Saturday, said Sunday would be sunny with a high of 69. Various reviews did point out that if it rains, the gigantic rocks that line the trail become rather damp and slick, making it even more difficult to hike in and reach the top. (Which they were not making up as I will go more in detail later on). But I didn’t want to wait. When I saw the weather was sunny and comfortable, I knew that was a sign that it would be my day to go. So I did. Below is a breakdown of how that day went. Buckle up and enjoy! 😝

The 4:30am wake up

Yes, you read that right. I woke up, on a Sunday which is designated time for teachers to sleep in, at 4:30 in the morning. My plan was to hit the road by 5:15, without missing any of my morning tea and meditation of course.🧘🏻‍♂️ (Turmeric ginger tea is my go-to). Once I finished my tea and deep breathing, I packed my bag with all of the essentials; extra pair of socks, cold-gear under armor, an extra t-shirt, my water, cliff bars, a banana, electrolyte tabs (thanks whole foods), chapstick, sunglasses, band-aids, my muscle roller (great for warming up pre hike), and my car charger. My hoody was already on and I would put that in my bag for the top of the mountain just in case. That was everything. I brushed my teeth, went to the bathroom and off I went. (Hey, I’m just being honest. Bathroom before a long drive is a must c’mon people 😂).

The morning drive

I would be lying to you if I didn’t say how much fun the morning portion of the drive was. Especially when you’re solo. Driving to your destination, on the open road with little to no traffic, to the sound of your favorite music blasting as loud as you want, is the epitome of bliss. Then, add in the sun rising in the crisp, dark September sky, providing vivid colors of orange, pink, and red blending along the horizon, and you have bliss magnified. It was amazing. The two hours and 15 minutes that it took to get there only felt like a quarter of that. Also, when I reached the state border of New Hampshire, the sun began peaking through the tall trees lined up along the sides of the road, giving me even more visual satisfaction for the remainder of my drive to Mount Monadnock. Smaller highways guided my last half hour, which led me to fully take in the beauty that New Hampshire is. (Seriously, it’s beautiful).

Arrival

Okay. I have a confession. When I pulled on the road that led to the entrance of Mount Monadnock, I got a little scared. Out my driver’s side window, stood the highest point in Cheshire County, New Hampshire, or 3,165 feet to be exact. It looked MASSIVE. It even had the fog and clouds that is in every movie or tv show hovered near the top, only showing hints of the peak. However my thoughts of doubt quickly went away as the word “DOPEEEEEEE” came out of my mouth. (Dope is one of my favorite words to say and I probably say it way too much but hey, 🤷🏻‍♂️🤓). I was instantly excited. I pulled in, talked to one of the park attendees who was still setting up, and parked. Made it. (And beat the GPS by 10 minutes, take THAT GPS!).

The trail/climb up

All of the reviews I had read in the previous weeks, as well as from my recommendations from my friends and colleagues was that there were A LOT of rocks on this trail, and that I had to be prepared for some challenging rock climbing once I got closer to the top. It’s not that I didn’t believe they were telling the truth, I just had never seen or hiked a trail as the one they described, and they couldn’t be more right. The trail starts off on a gradual incline, filled with many tree roots and small to medium rocks that stick out of the ground looking for weak feet and ankles to sprain. The trail is plenty wide, so much so that you don’t feel cramped or tight when several people pass by on their hike up or down the trail. As I made my way up, the tree roots tend to get less and less only to be substituted by bigger, larger rocks. As I kept climbing up, it was easy to follow the trail, as trees and rocks are painted with a large white circle, (The white dot trail is the one I took. It’s the steepest quickest route up the mountain), so it’s hard to get off course. I saw people hiking in front of me going up or down the mountain, so that helped map out the course as well as affirm that I was in fact going in the right direction. (Mount Monadnock is one of the most hiked mountains in New England, so even though I began hiking around 8 a.m., the trail was already being put to good use). Once I got past the medium size rocks I officially graduated to the large ones. And I do mean LARGE. These rocks were relatively smooth too. Oh, and in terms of the incline, yeah, it’s pretty steep. Definitely the steepest I’ve tried to hike. I tried to follow the grooves or edges on the rocks and planned where to step, especially since I didn’t have the correct footwear. I decided to hike the mountain in older training sneakers that had sturdy support but so-so grip. That was almost my biggest mistake of the trip. There were a few times my feet slipped but I was lucky and athletic enough to regain my footing and catch myself in good positions where I could keep on climbing. (Thank you functional training). Going from a trail that was damp and soggy did not help in the matter as well, but going slow, planning where to take my steps, using my hands and body, all helped me in climbing the trail. I was also lucky, (Some say luck, some say synchronicity. It’s me, I say synchronicity), that there was an older couple, a woman and man, probably around 45-50 years old, who had hiked the mountain previously come up behind me and take the lead to show me the best route to take once on the steep, smooth, and slippery large rocks. The last portion of the hike was tricky. I reached a spot where I saw this gorgeous view below that appears between two perfectly placed trees, only to realize that I still had another 20 minutes to the very top. For a first time Monadnock climber, those last 20 minutes were some of the most thrilling hiking I’ve done, because when you’re on the rocks, its just YOU and the rocks. That’s it. You look down and its more rocks, EXCEPT it’s on an incline. It kind of reminded me when I was young and you’re on a playscape, you go down the slide the correct way, then you try climbing back up? YEAH. That is how the climb up to the top during the final leg of the hike was like. Oh, and yea, you’re pretty high up, so if you don’t like heights, just keep looking at the rocks. By this time, there was a slight drop in the temperature and the wind started to pick up. I started to pass by gigantic piles of smaller rocks that lined the path up to the peak. Even though there are dots that still show on the rocks, there are many ways you can choose to climb up. (On many reviews and trail sites they call this a scramble to the top). I chose a way that had edges, crevices, or a large side of the rock sticking out to grab on too when picking the spots to climb. I also made sure that every step I took I was balanced with my arms just in case I was to slip. I’ll save you the drama. I never fell.

The peak

Inhale. Smile. Have the wind almost take my hat off. Exhale. I made it to the top. Cue the picture taking. The peak WAS amazing. There were panoramic views of what seems like the entire country. There were several other people on top of the mountain during my time at the top, which in a way actually felt amazing. Here are other people who were celebrating and enjoying their climb, taking in pictures, sitting down eating snacks, or just taking in the view. They’re doing what I was doing. Just being present. Soaking up the moment. It’s that connection we all constantly search for. I felt that this entire hike. (More on that coming up). The wind at the peak was strong and cold, but not cold enough for my hoody. You do need to be careful at the top, as the wind gusts can get to 40 mph from what I’ve read AND experienced. Once I got my pictures, (Thank you to the bro I met who so kindly took my picture!), 🎶 “imagine if I never met the broski’s” – 🎶 (drake reference 😎)

I descended 10-15 feet and sat down beside a large crevice, blocking the wind gusts and facing the sun. It was majestic. Breathtaking. Peaceful. I felt like I was on top of the world. Nothing else mattered at that very moment. I was one with the mountain.

The climb down

The descent wasn’t as strenuous as the way up, but it was still challenging. Descending from the peak and traveling down the rocks on such a decline, I took my time in the placement of my steps and continued to brace my core and use my arms for balance. As I continued down the mountain foot placement becomes the theme as those same rocks I hiked on the way up are back in full force ready to chop away at my ankles if I wasn’t careful. I took the white dot trail back down the mountain, which was not recommended in reviews. The white cross trail is the less steeper of the two and is often the one that hikers take on the descent. But upon my descent, that couple who helped me trace my path up the peak, told me the white dot trail is prettier and more fun than the white cross, and that’s all it took to persuade me. More fun you say? Psss heck yeah, lets do it!! They were right. It WAS more fun on the way down. But not for the reason that most would expect. What I liked most about the way down was all of the connections I made. Remember how I said earlier that Mount Monadnock was the most heavily hiked trail in New England? Well, on my way down, I didn’t go 2 minutes without passing hikers on their way up. So, what did I do? I made sure that I greeted EVERY single person or group with a smile, greeting, and small talk. Not everyone gave back the same energy or enthusiasm that I did, but that’s OK! Some people did! And it was awesome! I even got a high five from a toddler that couldn’t be more than 2 or 3 year’s old that was on her dad’s shoulders in one of those piggy back seats. (Kudos to dad of the year right there). Those connections are what makes hiking so special. Everyone out there is hiking to enjoy nature, to get away from life, to be with family, to move, and to live! And I wanted to soak in that experience during Mount Monadnock, and soak it in I did.

The small town straight out the movies

Once I got back in my car, the first thing I did was search for food. I knew what I wanted. Breakfast. And a lot of it. I found a diner in a little town called Peterborough, about 15 minutes away, and set off. This town literally looked like it was right out of a movie. A small downtown equipped with old buildings and rusting paint, little restaurants and shops, and of course, the diner. When I walked in the diner, I didn’t know if it was just me or if everyone suddenly stopped what they were doing and stared, but it definitely felt like that. All of the booths that lined the diner (maybe 8 total) were full so I grabbed an empty chair at the bar. An older waitress came up to me right away and gave me the old “Ready to order hunny what would ya like?”. I knew without even having to look at the menu. “Two eggs over easy with a side of hash browns, no toast, full stack of blueberry pancakes, extra blueberries, and the real maple syrup please”. With a grin wider than the trail I had just hiked, the waitress responded, “You gonna eat all that hunny?”. I loved the hospitality. I smiled and said “Oh yeah”. What I didn’t realize is this brief interaction opened up a line of communication with what seemed to be every waitress in the place. They all started talking to me. I was flattered. I honestly felt like a celebrity. At one point in the conversation, a waitress, older than me, said “You aint from round here huh sweetie”. I said, “No maam, what makes you say that?”. (I really did say ma’am). And she goes, “Oh nothing, we just don’t see fellas like you come in”, giggling. I laughed myself. I probably was blushing too. BUT WHO SAYS THAT? Honestly. I thought that only happens in movies!! Nevertheless, breakfast was a lot of fun. It was delicious too. I thanked them for all of the compliments and love and headed back to my car. Time to drive home.

The drive back

The drive back home is never as fun as the one getting to your destination, but I was on so many endorphins from my post hike and breakfast that I knew I would still enjoy it. Traffic was heavier during this time, but it didn’t dampen my mood. I blasted my music on the way back, this time changing it to my country playlist, and sang like I was the headline act at the Xfinity theater in Hartford. (Can you imagine? Hey you guys going to see Zak Brown band tonight? D-Rob is headlining. 😂 maybe in an alternate universe). Anyways, I couldn’t be any happier to how my entire trip went. My drive home allowed me to reflect on what a tremendous day I had. I was grateful for all of the people I met. The sights, the sounds, the views, everything went better than I could have expected.

And that’s where I’m finally getting too.

To find what we’re looking for, sometimes we have to leave our expectations behind.

I’m so glad I was finally able to hike Mount Monadnock,

because life is an adventure, and it’s meant to be explored.

Go out and explore yours. 🤙🙌⛰

Peace, love and good vibes, ✌️❤️

and like always, thank you for reading. I know this was a long one.

D-rob

Summer break is over, now what?! (Tips to help make teaching, and life, more enjoyable).

I don’t mean to sound dramatic, actually yes I do, but Summer is over. Well, not officially. Summer BREAK is over. Yes. The break that teachers and students get from the last day of school in June to the last week in August. (A much-NEEDED break let me tell you). However, starting tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. that break is over with, and many teachers like myself, start the 2019-2020 school year.

Here is one question I will be continually asking myself as I prepare to embark on another school year adventure. (I called it an adventure purposely 🧘🏻‍♂️). Even if you are not a teacher, you can use this question yourself whenever you feel stressed or lacking motivation with your job or in your life.

What’s my why?

This is a question I am going to put on my desk and remind myself daily. There is one sole reason I became a teacher, and that is because I love to help people, and for many other teachers I bet the answer is similar. Last year was THE most stressful and most challenging school year I’ve had to date. (I am starting my 7th year teaching and 9th in the district). And it really can be traced to one simple thing, I forgot my “why”. My why is the rewarding feeling I get from the positive relationships I form with all of my students. My why is the joy I receive when students shout and wave and give me daps (a form of greeting). My why is the satisfaction I get when students come back after finishing middle school and tell me how much they missed my class. My why’s are not difficult answers. There are loads more. I want to see them learn, grow, and ultimately become compassionate, well rounded adults that are happy with themselves and put forth great energy into the world to make the world a better place. My why is to change the current trajectory of the world and planet. (Our earth is getting worse if you haven’t noticed, have you seen or heard about the Amazon fires? Or the amount of plastic and garbage in our Oceans? But those topics are for another time). My mission this year is not to forget that. No matter what my bosses or colleagues or anyone says or does, I will not forget my why’s.

There is a big IF with that question. And with teachers, that “if” is stress. With any profession its stress really. And overtime if stress builds up then our physical bodies won’t be able to mentally respond to asking the “What’s our why?” question. It won’t be motivating for us. So here is where the important part lies. You have to put yourself first. 🤯 Yup, that’s it. (Mind blowing right). How do you do that you ask? By asking more questions. (Duhhh 😝). What makes you feel alive? What brings you happiness? What brings you peace? Answer those questions and bring them with you into your work day. Don’t say you will TRY to do those things, try implies a doubt that you are going to fail. Say you WILL and CAN do those things. For me, its simply being more present during my lunch. This means enjoying my food. Not talking to anyone or checking social media. (or taking pictures of my healthy lunch. I mean it I promise 😂). It means scheduling 5-10 minutes of my lunch/plan time to meditating. It means bringing plants and salt lamps to put in my office and desk to make it more zen and peaceful. It means being more conscious and aware of shielding and protecting my sacred energy with other colleagues and my students. It means being more aware of what I’m communicating and how I am communicating to staff and students. It means letting my inner child out and ENJOYING my time teaching Physical Education. (You know actually having fun. Not like in Remember the Titans when Petey says during orientation, “Zero fun, sir”. Always have to hit you with a movie reference). It doesn’t have to be complicated. But for some reason, we as humans complicate it. We do things backwards, actually. Instead of using work as a means to LIVE LIFE, we value and prioritize work as our life. That’s not how it should be. Life should be fun. And work should be fun as well. Shame on the system for the convincing us otherwise.

If teaching, or whatever job you have, or your general life isn’t bringing you satisfaction and joy, then ask yourself those questions, ask yourself “What’s your why”, and accept whatever answers come your way.

I promise that in the process, you will learn and bring positive change to not only your work, but to your entire life. And that is the main goal.

Good luck to all of my educators, counselors, support staff, security, and school staff that will be taking on the 2019-2020 school year tomorrow. You got this. And if not, scroll back up and re-read.

As always, thank you for reading.

Peace and love,

D-rob 😎🤙✌️❤️

Don’t be an energy waster!! (Energy series part 2)

Ok, so in my last post which was a part 1 of a 3 part series about energy, I wrote about empaths, gave you some cool science behind our energy, and also told you how to protect yourself from people with negative energy.

Today is part 2 of my energy series and will challenge you to really think about if you’re TRULY giving energy to what you want most out of life.

Here are two simple questions you need to ask yourself.

What (or where) is your energy going to?

Who is your energy going to?

There are no right or wrong answers. However, any answers you do come up with are valuable insights to allow you to determine if you are on the path you are seeking, or if you need to start making some changes.

Your energy should be going into three things;

1. YOURSELF,

2. YOUR RELATIONSHIPS (friends, family, co-workers,)

3. YOUR GOALS/DREAMS.

First and foremost you need to be putting energy into things that make YOU happy. This is your ME time. Exercise, hiking, dancing, coffee with friends, reading, listening to music, having a spa day, playing sports, whatever it may be, you need to do more of that. Don’t make excuses about not having time. MAKE TIME. We all have the same amount of time in a day. If you need to wake up an hour earlier or re-plan your schedule around your kids then do it. I can’t stress how important putting energy into yourself is. You can’t put energy into numbers 2 and 3 if you aren’t putting enough into number 1 first! You should always come first. Put energy into you and watch how much more your energy improves.

Second, think about your relationships right now. This can be with your significant other, your friends, your family, co-workers or all the above. Are you getting what you want out of those relationships? If you aren’t, you may not be putting enough energy into that relationship, OR you’re not giving off any positive energy so your attracting more negative energy back to you. If you want more communication then you have to be the one to start communicating more. If you want more effort being put into planning dates or spending time with friends and family than you have to be the one committed to actually planning that. Don’t give the excuse, well they don’t hit me up so I guess that’s it. Nah, snap out of that. If someone is valuable to you then put in the effort. When the effort becomes too much and turns stressful and draining to your energy, THAT is when you have to cut that person off.

Lastly, your energy needs to be going into your goals and dreams. I don’t care how big or small these may be. Want to lose 10 pounds? Then what are you doing daily to bring you closer to that goal? Did you make a change to your diet? Are you going to the gym? Did you take the stairs instead of the elevator? These all are choices you make where you determine what your energy is going into. Dreams of starting a business? How are you getting closer to that dream? Are you reading books from top entrepreneurs? Asking for advice from people on social media? Researching the steps to market your business? Again, this is where your energy needs to go. If it isn’t, you are wasting it. Very simple.

I find far too often that many people seem to be living in auto-pilot. They fall into a routine and thought process that inhibits growth and without coincidence, unhappiness. There is nothing wrong with routine, I find routines helpful especially if you have anxiety. However, if that routine is not bringing you what you want out of life, or bringing you closer to your goals, then break the fucking routine!

You have every right to chase happiness, but make sure you’re putting forth the right energy into your chase.

Make today the day you start investing in yourself and taking your energy seriously.

I promise you it will be worth it.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for being YOU.

Have a great day. 🤙✌️😎

Living as an “empath” and what you can do to protect yourself from negative energy (Energy series part 1)

Are you someone who lives with a heightened ability to feel what others are feeling?

Are you someone who’s mood can change by who you surround yourself by?

If you answered yes, then you are someone who may be an “empath”.

The definition of empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.

What I’ve found, is there are people who do this at a much higher ability than others (often labeled “empath’s”) as well as those in the world who lack it, and often find that those who are able to fully empathize with others, are the ones that get hurt more in the process. If you are someone who is empathetic, this article will provide you an important tool to protecting yourself from unwanted energy. If you aren’t empathetic, I encourage you to continue to read on as you may also learn a tool that can also help you.

What I’ve learned from various research among books, articles, and following spiritual and natural healers on social media, is that about 15 percent of people classify as highly sensitive. Usually, we label these individuals, “empath’s. But that isn’t entirely true. These people are really good at showing empathy yes, but it’s their sensitivity to feeling everything so vividly and deeply, plus at a more intense level than the norm that separates them from everyone else. Often these people are the ones who are always being drained of their energy. They take on the energy of other people, often at the expense of their own harm. Doing this, mostly without fully recognizing it, is harmful to the body also at a physical level. It’s no coincidence that there is a correlation to empaths developing some type of health disorder or auto immune disease in life because of the stress of feeling so much negative toxic energy from others. That is why I became so interested in this topic during the last few months. Learning about myself, understanding I classify as being highly sensitive, and learning how to deal with toxic unwanted energy has been a life saver that I want to pass on so you too can start to heal and protect yourself.

One of the problems is not being fully prepared to “shield” oneself from toxic negative energy. I know you know what it is. For example, have you ever walked into a room where you could sense there was a argument or fight? How did that room feel? Heavy? Weird? Awkward? Sense of unease? Yes, all of that is correct. That is your body’s ability to read energy.

(Sidenote: Without getting too far into left field, the science is that we’re all made up of matter and this matter is simply energy. The words we say and even our thoughts are made up of this energy. Speak positive and thinking good thoughts will have you living life at a higher frequency. Speak negative, complain, and thinking negative thoughts will have you living at a lower frequency. Those people who are living at a higher frequency generally have good health and live a great quality of life. The opposite can be true for those living at a lower frequency. People fluctuate between the two energies all the time. The key is realizing what frequency you are at, change it to a higher frequency, and consistently trying to maintain that.)

So let’s say you work or live in an environment where it is surrounded by people who are living at a lower frequency. (These people can be easily pointed out, they are often the ones that you feel suck the energy right out of you”.) Going into this environment on a daily basis is harmful to your health, but there is a helpful tool that can protect you from this energy!

I’m going to give you a solution that I learned through a book I read, “Energy Healing” written by Kris Ferraro. (She wasn’t the originator, this tool has been around since ancient times and can be found in various books about eastern medicine.) She states that this simple tool to equip you is called “shielding”. Yes, a shield like a spartan warrior would use to protect them in battle. (Or the one Captain America uses.)

What you need to do is imagine a 3 foot bubble forming around your entire body. You really have to visualize it and imagine the shield is building around you. This can be done by first closing your eyes for one minute, and relaxing the body by focusing solely on your breath. Once you are relaxed, on each exhale, start the shield or bubble first extending from your heart. On each next exhale, visualize the bubble getting bigger and bigger until it is fully formed into your protective shield. (I like to think of mine as the ones Wakanda uses to protect their land. Second marvel movie reference in case you’re counting).

Once you’ve done this, the next thing to do is to repeat an affirmation consisting of resisting negative energy, and allowing positive energy in. An affirmation is the state of affirming, or using words to state something exists or is true. Using an affirmation like, “This shield will protect me from unwanted negative energy, and it will only allow positive loving energy in. Thank you for your protection” helps strengthen the ability of your shield.

When you get good at this, you won’t need to breathe and relax and make it a huge process. Saying in your mind or out loud but quietly, “shield up” or whatever else comes to mind will do the trick.

Teachers, this also works with challenging students! Once those students realize they can’t get through YOUR shield, you can start actively attacking their wall with love and guidance that they’ve resisted. But that’s an entirely different topic.

What I’m still learning through this practice is it will take time for your shield to develop its strength. The more you practice and better you get at visualizing, this will greatly enhance the effectiveness of your shield.

Now that you are equipped with this knowledge and skill I sincerely hope that it helps you and that you pass it on to anyone else who may need it.

Look for my next post, where I will write about effective ways to restore and even improve your energy to help you live and maintain that higher frequency.

Have a great day, and happy shielding. 🧘🏻‍♂️😎🤙

When it’s time to be selfish

This summer has been amazing.  It’s been relaxing, exciting and fun, with some small periods of stress sprinkled in the mix.  Two bachelor parties out of state, two stags I helped throw, one wedding including the best man’s speech for my twin bro (yes, I have a twin, and yes, my speech was phenomenal), and to top it off, some serious improvements on myself.  Oh yeah.  BIG TIME improvements. To the naked eye, they may not be as big, but to me, they’ve represented a shift in my viewpoint of what being happy truly means.  And you know what that is, being God damn selfish (sorry Mom I know you hate when I curse). Let me explain.

My entire life I have been a people pleaser.  I am a “go with the flow” type person, super laid back, the type to want to just have good vibes and avoid conflict.  Growing up this turned me into a “Yes man”, always wanting to do the right thing, to never let the other person down, to seek that sense of approval.  I think this view also represents the current state of a majority of people who use social media.  We are always seeking some type of validation for our posts, whether its on our main feed, our stories, whatever the case may be.  I myself also fall into this mix, and throughout my adult life, I’ve restrained from some of the posts I may or may not have put because I was afraid that it wouldn’t get that “approval” I was subconsciously seeking.   I don’t know what finally switched, it could have been a variety of factors, but sometime during the last few months, heck even the last year, I started being selfish.  Selfish with my thoughts.  Selfish with my communication.  Selfish with my time. Selfish with what I would say “Yes” too. Selfish with what I would post. Everything.

Here’s what I started to notice.  Freedom.  Freedom from the people who would take advantage of me. Freedom from my thoughts of any self-doubt.  Freedom from the opinion of others.  Freedom from the forced validation and competition of social media.  I started actually LIVING for me. No fear. No competition. Just doing what was right and best for ME. And in doing this, some of my passions that have been “dormant” or almost “hiding” have started to reemerge.  New passion and career paths have started to motivate me to new goals. I’m excited at everything I plan to accomplish within the next five years.

Heck, even in writing this, I feel back to my true creative self. I started this small blog because one I always wanted to help people, but two, because I LOVE TO FUCKING WRITE (sorry again Mom but the “f” word was needed in that sentence). So here I am again, being selfish in not only this blog post, but in how I’m spending my Sunday afternoon. I’m eating a salad, I’m drinking a seltzer, and I’m sharing my thoughts with the world (or to the 20 people who actually decide to read this), and yes, I couldn’t be happier.

Peace be the journey,

-Derek

(Always have to throw in a movie reference) 🤙

Just a normal Sunday, or so I thought…

But if you push that anxiety and fear away for just a few minutes, the universe can surprise you with something special.

The universe works in mysterious ways.  It can truly work in our favor if we let it, and this morning was a perfect example of that for me.

Sunday morning is one of my favorite times of the week.  I sleep in, (which for me, and many other teachers, is to about 8:00 a.m.), then get up and drink a big glass of water.  I perform some light stretches to get my body up and moving then head to the gym where I dedicate a couple hours to mobility work, a full body workout, foam rolling, finished by a quick session in the sauna and hot tub.  This time is amazing for me.  I blast my music and get lost into another world.  Anyone who works out consistently can attest to the addiction of finding and staying in this zone.  What sets today apart is what happened and who I met after my workout was over.

Walking into the hot tub at a gym can be a scary experience for some.  The anxiety of sharing a tub of water and jets with strangers can be pretty intimidating, and I understand that.  But if you push that anxiety and fear away for just a few minutes, the universe can surprise you with something special.

Today as I was walking in the hot tub there was a man already inside, who smiled and greeted me, “hello” as soon as I entered.  I greeted him back with a hello, and a routine, “Nice and hot today!” before sitting down next to one of the jets.  The man continued to talk to me, including telling me his age, 75 years old, and how it wasn’t fun to be old while stating how much pain he is currently dealing with in his back.  If you don’t know me or my story, (scroll up to read “Heart of a Lion”, my first blog post about my health journey), I am also a person who has struggled and still deals with chronic pain.  Instead of writing this complete stranger off, I opened up to him and briefly summed up my health journey.  I then told him about chiropractors, physical therapists, massages, trigger points, mobility exercises, breathing, dry needling, cupping, anything I knew off that helped with back pain I was listing it off to him.  He was very receptive to my advice, and asked questions about people and places I would recommend to get these treatments done.  He went on to state that the only care he is receiving for his pain is from an orthopedic doctor, who is currently prescribing him pain relievers and possibly surgery.  I offered him more advice about seeking these natural treatments first before getting surgery, as I am a big believer that surgeries ultimately cause more harm than good.  (I’ve had four surgeries in my lifetime and two on my knee and shoulder that could have been avoided if I didn’t fall into the hypnotic spell of the orthopedic surgeon and sought other options myself). He was receptive to my advice and assured me he was going to try some of these treatments in the coming month. What he went on to say next is what led me to write this post about this experience.  He looked me dead in the eye, with a huge smile, and thanked me for talking with him.  He told me that countless times in this gym he has tried to start conversations with people and they wrote him off.   We shook hands, formally introduced ourselves with our names, and exited the hot tub.

The entire conversation lasted roughly 10 minutes.  It could have easily been 10 minutes of silence, two men just relaxing in the hot tub, completely oblivious to the world and each other.  But it wasn’t that.  It was 10 minutes of two people being human.  It was 10 minutes of two people connecting.  It was 10 minutes that I am so deeply and incredibly grateful for experiencing today.

As you go through the rest of your day, week, month, I simply ask you to be a little more receptive to what or who the universe drops in front of you.  As I learned today, there are no coincidences.

You’re alive…

Good morning, and happy Sunday! The sun is shining (in Connecticut at least), you’re alive and you’re breathing, life is good.

Sometimes it’s these little things you need to remind yourself to be thankful for. Today was one of those mornings in which I had to do the same.

It’s been a while since I’ve wrote about my auto-immune diseases and even though I’ve made great strides this last year, today was a morning which one hit me square in the face. Last night I ended up eating some small treats, and despite them being gluten and nut free, it had milk and lots of sugar. If you’re not familiar with certain aspects of nutrition, sugar and dairy are the devil for people with auto-immune diseases. They are triggers of inflammation, and can cause flare-ups with certain people depending on how their bodies react to them. This morning as I woke up I knew immediately that I screwed up. My body was so stiff it took me 15 minutes longer to get out of bed. Once out of bed, I quickly saw both the back of my hands, my forearms, arms, and back had a large rash. In appearance it looks similar to that of a heat rash or hives, but for me it was a common symptom with those who have psoriatic arthritis. (One of the two auto-immune diseases I was diagnosed with two years ago).

After dropping the kids off at the pool (get it? 😂) and washing my face I went downstairs and had a large glass of water. (Drinking water right upon waking has tremendous benefits, and I will write a post about that soon). Once finishing hydrating myself I went into my stretching, foam rolling,and mobility exercises. Sunday are my days where I love to go to the gym and devote myself to a full body workout and this morning wasn’t going to stop me from that.

As I went through my workout I devoted more time spent between my exercises actively stretching to keep my joints and body fluid. This past year I’ve been blessed with a great team of chiropractors (Damato’s in Newington, CT) and physical therapists (John Odriscoll at Symmetry in Portland, CT) who have given me the tools and strategies to get stronger while focusing on building the core and maintaining proper form.

Once my workout was over, I hit the sauna, cooled off in the pool, then spent 5 more minutes in the hot tub. This felt great on my body and am so grateful I go to a gym that houses these.

As I’m writing this, my body, especially my joints feel amazing. The rash on my hands, arms and back is almost all gone, and I’m ready to tackle the rest of the day.

The point is, we all have moments where we will have setbacks in life. We can look at them as roadblocks, or challenges, the choice is ultimately ours. I pray that anyone reading this, especially those with auto-immune diseases, to not give up, to keep fighting, and keep winning the day. Remember, you’re alive, and breathing.

The Heart of a Lion.

“A lion sleeps in the heart of every brave man”.

First off, happy new year! I hope 2018 brings you a year filled with love, joy, health, wealth, and so much freaking happiness!

Now on to my second post of Drob’s school of thoughts.

Disclaimer. This post is intended to inform and help others, but is NOT meant to diagnose any health issues. If you have symptoms that seem similar, please take the time to get checked by a doctor. (Although as you will read,some doctors aren’t always right).

To understand how I got to this point, I need to take you back several years ago, August 2011.

I was coming off a full day of work at a popular summer camp in the middle of the woods. As the day was winding down, I noticed three weird dots on my sock, including one tiny spec lingering right above my ankle on my shin. As I bent down to take a closer look I viciously swiped off what happened to be 3 ticks.  This was before I knew anything about what diseases ticks could spread, and just went about the rest of the day without a second thought. Less than a week later, I had flu like symptoms that lasted a few days, and was told it was just a bad sinus infection.  I told a walk in physician about the ticks, and he checked my shin for any circular rashes indicating being infected with Lyme. “A circular rash occurs in approximately 70-80% of infected persons and begins at the site of a tick bite”. (CDC, 2015).  Since I didn’t have any rash, the physician told me I probably did not have Lyme and I could rest easy.

My flu like symptoms did go away, however during that fall season I did start to experience routine dizziness, unexplainable fatigue, pale skin, and bad pain around my joints. At first, I did not tell anyone about these symptoms.  I kept living my life and dismissed them thinking they would go away on their own.  They didn’t.

On-going sinus issues led me back to my primary doctor who prescribed me more antibiotics.  After a week of the generic “z-pack” (A common antibiotic called Azithromycin usually given to people who have mild bacterial infections), my sinus symptoms did not go away.  I also noticed that my throat began to hurt and because of the joint pain I finally admitted to feeling, was recommended to a rheumatologist.  (A rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in the detection of musculoskeletal disease and systemic autoimmune conditions commonly referred to rheumatic diseaseshttps://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Health-Care-Team/What-is-a-Rheumatologist )

I was given an extensive blood test as well as a throat culture, and diagnosed with strep throat. I took strong antibiotics (Amoxicillin) for two weeks, but nothing improved.  I was worse.  I did another blood test (because who doesn’t like getting stabbed in the vein all the time?) and was told I had the Lyme bacteria in my blood.  My rheumatologist then prescribed me a month supply of antibiotics, as well as steroids, Prednisone, to combat Lyme and its symptoms.

One month went by and I did start to feel a tad better.  Another blood test confirmed that the Lyme was still in my blood, however my rheumatologist explained to me that this was normal for once you become infected with Lyme, it never leaves your blood. He also informed me that the month of antibiotics should have killed all and any lingering Lyme bacteria and that all of my symptoms should go away with it.

So here is where the story should turn right? Ha! Not even close! I’m just getting started.

Of note. That’s roughly 8 weeks of antibiotics in a 16 week window. If anyone is doing the math at home, this isn’t very good for gut health huh? More on that soon.

A few months pass by and I am still experiencing joint pain, except more severe, fatigue, dizziness, and anxiety.  I make a call back to my rheumatologist and he agrees to do some more blood tests for stuff he may have missed.  Nothing comes up, and I’ll never forget what he then tells me. “Nothing is wrong Derek, you are fine. It’s all in your head. It’s probably stress”.

“Probably stress”. Ha! Are you serious? Excuse my language but get the fuck out of here with that BS. I walked out of that office that day so miserable, so angry, and so defeated, I did not know where else to turn.

Ok I lied. I did have someplace to turn, another doctor that was. Severe stomach pain, difficulty digesting food, and weight loss were some new symptoms I began to experience which led me to a gastroenterologist, or stomach specialist.  Maybe this could be explaining all of my health problems I thought? One could dream right.

Nope. It explained some of them, not all. That just led to more diagnoses, blood tests, and antibiotics.  (At least my CVS card was getting good usage during this time!) I had what’s called H. pylori. “H. pylori is a type of bacteria that can live in your digestive tract and attack the stomach lining” (https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/h-pylori-helicobacter-pylori).

One month of antibiotics and anti acid medicine later one would finally think this had to be it right? Wrong again. I didn’t get better.  More blood tests and a new breath test confirmed I did not have the H. pylori any longer in my blood. But I was still experiencing bad stomach pain and even nausea while eating.  So, on to more testing. I was given a standard biopsy, you know, the one where they stick a camera down your throat and check the stomach and intestines. Pretty cool right? The biopsy showed an ulcer and inflammation in my small intestine, however I was told it was not Celiac’s. “Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage of the small intestine” (http://celiac.org). Since I did have inflammation, I was told it could be possibly food allergies or insensitivities, and should look into getting tested for that.

Great.  Just what I need.  More tests and more doctors.  (Glad I had good insurance).

In this time frame afterwards, I can’t pin point when exactly, because of the continuous joint pain and other symptoms I mentioned earlier I was referred to the Department of Chronic Diseases at the local hospital.  More blood tests were given, and for one point in time, I had a specialist tell me that based on the blood test results that there was a high probability I had HIV or Cancer.  I am not making that up. That was exactly what was said to me.  They explained to me my results, the possible culprits, and told me I had to come back in two weeks to retest specifically for the HIV and AIDS, as well as compare my blood cell counts to the first test I took. (Talk about the most stressful two weeks of my entire life).

Thankfully, everything came back negative, meaning I didn’t have Cancer, or HIV. Nothing out of the ordinary was really found. All that was wrong was that my white blood cell count was relatively low, but still on the normal side of the spectrum of blood cell counts. (In my own research, a low white blood cell count is a common symptom of people who experience chronic Lyme or autoimmune diseases). The specialist did acknowledge that I had Lyme in my blood, but told me they did not treat for it as they did not recognize it as a chronic illness. Yeah, countless people are making these Lyme symptoms up right, doc? You got to be shitting me. I didn’t say that. I wanted too.

See a trend here yet?

After seeing the specialist at the hospital I knew I needed a change.  I needed to find an actual doctor that could test for everything and also BELIEVE me when I told him/her the symptoms I was experiencing, especially related to Lyme.  I stumbled upon an Osteopathic doctor close by, who was also part of ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society). Every osteopathic doctor is different.  In general, these doctors believe in a whole body approach to healing and self-care, and look for alternative treatments that aren’t used by regular physicians.  I was ready for the change.

We get down to business and do an extensive blood test.  (No I did not have a blood test card where the 10th one is free). The appointment lasted close to an hour and a half, and for the first time I finally felt understood.  Blood tests confirmed I had Lyme, as well as other vitamin and mineral deficiencies that were similar in other patients who had what he called Chronic Lyme.  He gave me an accurate description to what was going on in my body, including why I had the various stomach issues I began to experience months before my visit. I found out I had a yeast overgrowth, and in response my body had become allergic to it. This is common in people who take tons of antibiotics in a short period of time, due to the extensive destruction of the good bacteria in the body’s digestive system.

Treatment for the yeast overgrowth would be long and challenging.  I did a complete overhaul of my diet taking out wheat and dairy as well as restricting my sugar intake.  I began to take probiotic supplements and stopped drinking beer and most alcohol. (I continued to drink Tequila for close to a year before finally giving up all alcohol for good). This difficult but necessary change in my diet completely transformed my body. Over the next several months, I lost close to 30 pounds. My stomach health did improve during this time however, the entire process that had already gone on for close to two years began taking its toll on my mental psyche, especially with my joint pain never improving.

(Nope, I’m still not done. I’m getting there though keep reading!)

2012-2013

During this time frame, I still experienced chronic pain in roughly every joint in my body.  I also began experiencing severe pain in the back, hip, and neck areas. In addition to my new diet, the chronic pain and fatigue was so bad that I did not work out or lift weights for an entire year. If I had any energy or motivation I would drag myself to the gym to walk on the treadmill or outside. That was it. For a full year. This was torture for someone who loved working out as much as I did before all these Health challenges started. Pain was so bad that normal things throughout the day caused me considerable stress and pain. Bending down to pick up a pot, walking up stairs, reaching up for a dish, even trying to find a comfortable position sleeping was difficult. It was not a fun time frame for me.

This period is where I was at my lowest mentally.  I felt alone.  I didn’t talk to friends or family much about what I was experiencing early on because I felt misunderstood.  I was too stubborn to reach out for help.  Nothing made me happy and I routinely cried myself to sleep.  I was so low during this time period that I often contemplated suicide. I had no outlets, couldn’t workout like I used too, had to stop playing baseball, and lost all confidence in who I was as a person. Some days I would wake up scared because I honestly didn’t know if I could make it through another day. Looking back now I realize how incredibly stupid not telling anyone about that was, and am very grateful to have made it through. However, if you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts please talk to someone and get help! Do not bottle it up or fight it on your own! Reach out to someone. Anyone. There’s always people willing to help. One of many blessings I was able to find from being at my lowest during this time was being grateful for the simple joys we as people often take for granted everyday. Being grateful and taking things day by day helped me get through this period and led me out of my depressive state. But I’ll save that for another post. Back to the story.

2013-2014

A series of X rays, MRI’s, and Cat scans back with my rheumatologist would give me the diagnosis of degenerative disc disease. It was also indicated to me that I had early onset arthritis in my neck, and had disc narrowing in my mid back.  To my rheumatologist and back specialist/neurologist I was also now referred too, this wasn’t abnormal, especially being a former college athlete who played collegiate sports as well as competitive high school football.  To deal with the consistent and sometimes excruciating pain, I was given cortisone shots, nsaids (Celebrex), steroids (more prednisone) and nerve blockages. The nerve blockages worked the best, and would give me months of some relief, yet somehow the pain would always seem to find its way back. Just like those talking animals. You know, the cat and two dogs who eventually found their way back “home” when lost in the wilderness? (You didn’t think I would go an entire post without throwing in a classic 90’s movie reference did you?)

Anyways, months after my last nerve blockage more X-rays from my rheumatologist determined that my arthritis from my degenerative disc disease progressed a whole lot faster than the norm.  In about one year, my back aged considerably.  “You have the lower back of a 55-year-old male, Derek”, was the exact quote I remember being said to me.  Um, I’m only 27. How the fuck is that possible? I didn’t say that. I thought it though. He also told me I shouldn’t lift weights, and that running, jumping, and any physical activity could antagonize the symptoms and make them worse.  Great news, doc.  (More sarcasm if you couldn’t tell).

I did find out however for the first time that I might have an autoimmune disease as the main culprit.  But before he could give me some form of treatment or give me an accurate diagnosis, he had to make sure I didn’t have anything that could affect possible treatment.

(Seriously, at this point, what else could I possibly have? I’ve had everything in the freaking medical book. Shit, I could write the medical book at this point).

Turns out I tested positive for Tb, or Tuberculosis.  This was no mistake, as I had to do a second test at a different blood testing site to confirm this diagnosis.

How the fuck did I get Tb? Is this a sick joke? Not funny God, NOT FUNNY.

On a serious note, still to this day I have no idea how I contracted it. One could stipulate that working in a poor school district that early in the school year a parent could have sent her child to school without first getting their shots in time and somehow it was spread to me. (Just an educated hypothesis).

2014-2015

How do you treat Tb you ask? With a year of freaking Antibiotics.  Yup.  A full fucking year.  I was referred to the Health department and a given a fresh supply of medicine every month.  Because of the excessive use of the medicine, possible side effects included kidney disease and liver failure in which I had to have routine blood testing and monthly weigh ins.  (This is where I officially gave up all alcohol for good and couldn’t be more happier to do so. Bye bye hang overs). What stinks during this time was my stomach was doing well, so well, that I had implemented some yeast and wheat products in my diet, sparingly at least, with no real huge digestive issues.  But as soon as I began the medicine for the Tb, many of my digestive woes came back. Similar to Drake running through the six with his woes I assume.  (That was a music reference if you did not catch that.) I lost about 10-15 more pounds during this entire year of being on the medication and If you’re following correctly, about 40 pounds of weight lost total from when I was at my biggest.  (What a time. To be alive.) Another music reference.  I’m on fire.  Alicia keys. Ok, I’ll stop. For most people, weight loss is a good thing. But for a tall, lanky, former athlete who worked as hard as me to gain weight and add muscle in my early 20’s, more weight loss was the last thing I wanted.

One year goes by and the medicine did its job of taking away the Tb. I got my letter that said I completed treatment and that if it comes up on blood tests again its fine and I should not be experiencing any effects in the future. Ok great. That’s done. But I still did not have an answer for the constant pain and stiffness across my body.

Deep breath in. Exhale out. Relax. You’re almost finished.

2015-2016

I quickly make an appointment back with my rheumatologist, in which we did more X-rays and blood tests. Finally, after about 5 years, I get a diagnosis that could finally explain some of the symptoms.  Ankylosing Spondylitis, and Psoriatic Arthritis. I had symptoms of both, including rashes that I sometimes got (and still get) on my fingers, hands, elbows, arms, back, and knees. (Check my Instagram where I have shorts on.  They most commonly look like scraped knees but they are symptoms of psoriasis, an auto immune disease that targets the skin). Both diseases target the spine, cause chronic inflammation, stiffness, and arthritis, specifically of the spine, and any attachments to the spine. I have to go yearly for checkups including breath tests, as the ribs can restrict breathing because of inflammation.  I also have to take yearly X rays and get other tests done to monitor the health of my spine.

2017 – Now

Over the hump. (Finally).

I now take a low dosage pill, Otezla, twice a day to combat the two auto immune diseases.  In addition, I eat a predominantly healthy diet consisting of a lot of fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meat, and brown rice. I take supplements of turmeric, tart cherry, beet powder, probiotics, and stomach enzymes to help with inflammation, pain, and maintain optimal gut health.

In addition to eating healthy, there is a lot I do to maintain the health of my body, especially my spine.  Because of the autoimmune diseases, my muscles are in a constant state of tension. Teaching every day and being on my feet throughout the week is a huge challenge for me, as I often come home tired and sore.

I see a chiropractor at least twice a week for regular adjustments, a massage therapist weekly, a Physical Therapist, and exercise on my own at least once a week.  Hot tubs are a God send, and I am grateful my gym has one as sometimes soaking in a hot tub is the only relief that is suitable after a long day of teaching.

Mentally is no different. I practice different forms of meditation daily including the use of various frequencies, affirmations, and deep breathing techniques. I have a social circle that is filled with many positive and supportive people who inspire me more than they can believe.  I whole heartedly believe in surrounding myself with positive people who contribute to my well being, if not, they are not in my life. My family is my rock, and I don’t know what I’d do without their continued support.  (Love you fam)

Doing all of these things helps me live and breathe a positive and healthy lifestyle.  I live with so much empathy and compassion for people I can’t believe how I lived my life any other way prior to all of this happening.

So why am I finally telling everyone this now?

Because for the first time I am not embarrassed by my extensive health history.

I am not defined by my symptoms.  I am not defined by my past.  I am defined by however the fuck I want to be defined as.  I want to help every single person who has their own challenges in life.  I want everyone reading this to know that no matter how dark, how difficult, how challenging life gets to NOT give up.  It gets better! I promise you that. I do have set backs, and I’m not always pain free, but it will not defeat me. Never. I’m too strong for that.

A Turkish proverb is credited with the saying, “A lion sleeps in the heart of every brave man”.

Well Turkish proverb, I thank you. I also thank God, the Universe, and whoever else is out there for awakening the lion that was asleep in my heart. With the help of this post, I only hope to try to awaken the lion asleep in yours.  Drob out.