5 Mantras for the Chronically Ill

I’ve battled chronic illness for 3 consistent years now (though I first started experiencing problems more like eight years ago). This journey has been incredibly difficult, painful and exhausting.

But I wouldn’t trade it.

Life is hard.

SO STINKING HARD.

But it’s precious and it’s worth it.

Over the duration of my war on illness, I’ve learned somethings about myself. In the grand scheme of things, these are the thoughts that get me through what I’m facing. I’m sharing them in hopes that they might help you, too.

These are in no particular order.. unless you count the random progression of my thoughts as an order. Basically I’m disclaimering that they’re all important life realizations.

#1- This can’t kill me, so I can beat it.

Illness is soooooo scary. When you’re fading to black on a bright day, lying in bed with absolutely zero ability to lift your head, or puking your guts out into a toilet bowl (shout out to listerine!), it’s easy to think the end must be near. But here’s the God honest truth: it hasn’t killed you yet, and according to the doctors it 99% probably most likely won’t. If it can’t kill you, then you can definitely beat it. You can get better or learn to thrive whilst not being better. In any case: there is hope. Remind yourself of it.

#2 – I am stronger when I rely on Christ.

When I first started battling illness I was extremely depressed. I was so depressed that I started being okay with being depressed (only depressed people will get that). Depression was almost like a blankie that kept me safe: as long as I was miserable about life, life couldn’t bother me when it worsened.

But here’s the thing: Jesus wants us to have joy in our trials (which is something I fail at being consistent in). So much so that He wants us to consider trials joyful things!

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. -James 1:2-4

Trials are a joyful thing because they grow our strength and ability to endure life. Which is a strange thought..

There isn’t a cure for FMS, but someday there may be one. Better yet! Maybe God will heal me. But I have to endure to get that point! And the one thing I know is that Christ will give me the strength to endure anything that happens in my life: all I have to do is just ask.

#3 – It’s okay to cry.

I hate crying. Ugh. It makes me feel weak and powerless and pitiful. But lately I’ve been doing a lot of it (exhibit a), and I have to be okay with that. Crying is just another method for the body to release stress and overwhelming emotion. It stinks because it makes your face all puffy and your eyes terribly bloodshot, but a good cry will make anyone feel better. Why else do girls choose the saddest of the sad movies to watch on their monthlies (sorry for the TMI, gents)? If all you need to do is cry, so you can vent that upset-ness out of your system, then tell yourself it’s okay and by golly-goodness, cry.

Still feeling guilty about it? Well here: the Bible says to weep!

There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven…… a time to weep and a time to laugh. -Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 4

#4 – I can do without.

I’m trying to learn to say no, to both experiences and stuff. Primarily stuff, which is a huge stressor on my mind. Sometimes we just can’t do as much as we’d like to. I can’t travel more than once a month of I’m completely and utterly dead (but alive). I can’t eat all the delightful foods that happen to cross my path. I just can’t. And that’s okay. I don’t need to. I can be happy without all the extras in life.

In fact, having less frees me to focus on what I actually want. Doing without makes doing with that much more special.

#5 – Life is a gift.

We all take life for granted. No matter how rough it is, someone has it worse. No matter how great it is, someone has it better. But for each and every one of us, life is a gift that we need to appreciate. At the risk of being cliché, I’ll remind you that there are countless people who do not wake up in the morning, who do not survive infancy, who do not survive their stay in the womb.

We did. So let’s be thankful for it.

And if you’re having a hard time thanking God for what you’ve got, it never hurts to be reminded that there are many with literally nothing.

In the end, it all boils down to this thing that I told a friend who interviewed me about FMS:

I keep fighting because in spite of my body telling me no, I still have eyes that want to see the world, a heart that wants to love people and ears that want to hear the Word. That’s all I need. Who cares if the rest of my body is broken?

What mantras do you repeat to get through the day?

5 Mantras for the Chronically Ill

6 Reasons Why I’m Becoming a Minimalist

I’m on a minimalism kick. I’m not taking it to the extremes a lot of people are (for instance: I have more than 30 clothing items, I have candles on my counter-tops and I have more books than I technically need) but I have purged so much of my stuff in the last month that it’s almost overwhelming.

Overwhelmingly beautiful.

Here’s the thing, now that it’s gone: I don’t miss it. I don’t even think about it. And about twice a week, I’ve been loading a Wal-Mart sack with even more stuff to donate, trash or sell. You could say I’m addicted.

I started this journey because I am stressed to the gills with work and general life clutter (be it physical or mental). I decided it was time for a change and after stumbling across some great minimalist decluttering videos on YouTube, I figured I might as well give minimalism a try.

I read and read and read on the topic and everywhere I looked, minimalists said that it was important to list your reasons why. Here are six reasons that I came up with and have found really help keep me moving forward with less stuff.

#1 – I want to stress less about life.

Life is stressful as is. When you add all the items to take care of and put away and clean and.. ugh. There’s just way too much responsibility and coming home to clutter is never relaxing. I want to feel relaxed and peaceful when I’m there.

#2 – I want more time to learn and grow.

Having less stuff means having less to do. For instance, cutting my wardrobe down means less laundry and less time spent trying to figure out what to wear or hunting down a certain top. I want to find more nuggets of free time that I can invest in growing myself mentally and spiritually. I want to actually tackle learning guitar, freshen up on German and study more on leading worship.

i-like-black-on-my-black-polaroid#3 – I want to embrace me.

My wardrobe is primarily black. And I’m okay with that, because it’s me. The colorful clothing gets ignored unless I’ve completely run out of other things to wear. I always have black on.. to the point that when I show up in not-black, all my friends freak out. So why do I keep forcing myself to buy brightly colored clothing that I’m never going to wear? I want to embrace my likes and avoid my dislikes. There’s no reason to waste the precious little time life offers in clothes I don’t enjoy or books I’m dreading reading.

#4 – I want to learn to say no, so that I can more often say yes.

I need to find the willpower to turn down spending opportunities on things, so that I have the financial ability to start saying yes to experiences. Recently I went to New Mexico to celebrate my bestie’s wedding, and it was amazing and beautiful.. and wouldn’t have been possible if she hadn’t included my plane ticket into her wedding budget. She’s such a dear friend and it would have killed me to miss out on her big day. I’m planning to go to New York City in February to see my other bestie perform in Carnegie Hall – that will only be possible with less stuff and more time and more money.

#5 – I want to, in a moment, pick up and go.

Should God call me to move cross-country and start evangelizing on the streets in Oregon, I want to have the freedom to do so. That comes with less stuff, less responsibility and less… debt. Yes, I just admitted to that ugly word being a part of my life on a blog now viewed by thousands (speaking of, ohemgee this post went viral and has 80,000+ views to date! What. Even.). I used to be debt free. Oh what a lovely picnic that was. Now I have medical bills piled high, a laptop payment and a student loan that makes my heart ache to think of it. Basically. I need to spend less so I can pay more. Oi, what a fun time that will be.

#6 – I want to feel free.

It’s a tiresome burden owing money and time to people and things you don’t even like. I’m ready to be free of that burden. I’m so, so, so ready.

After compiling my list of reasons, I started the massive purge. I went through everything in my room: books, clothes, shoes, stationary, hobby stuff, furniture & equipment, medicine, and miscellaneous odds and ends.

Out the door went:

  • 90% of my books: it didn’t even hurt that much.. I sold them in “A Buck a Book Sale” on my personal Facebook and made $140 in just under 5 hours. The rest are in two huge boxes in my trunk that I will be taking to Half Price on Friday for even more money.
  • 60% of my already limited wardrobe: goodbye shirts with stains and holes, shoes too scuffed to be worn without embarrassment and all those things I was keeping just in case I gained weight again (#chronicillnessprobs).
  • 50% of my hobby items: I bid adieu to the boxes of scrapbooking supplies (a hobby I don’t even enjoy anymore) and another box of old sewing materials and scraps that I will never use. I kept just enough supplies to mend my newly freshened wardrobe.
  • 99% of my stationary: Someone please tell me why I was keeping 100+ pens and pencils, 10+ dry erase markers for the marker board I got rid of months ago, 13 tablets and 9 notebooks again? I do everything on my computer except journal.
  • 50% of my furniture and equipment: I tossed old cords to machines I don’t recall existing, donates headphones and speaker sets that I had been keeping “just in case” and got rid of two empty bookshelves (one was a gift for my sister and one sold for $15). Goodbye massive desk that I don’t need (though I will be buying a smaller replacement at some point in the future). I have another bookshelf and dresser to say goodbye to as soon as I get some bins for the empty shelves on my free-standing closet organizer (a hand-me-down gift from Faith & Darius… I’m obsessed with it).
  • 25% of medicine: That old stuff that was seriously expired and some cough drops that were now goopy from age.. because I kept forgetting I had them and buying new bags.
  • 85% of miscellaneous odds & ends: If I didn’t know what it was, where it came from, what purpose it served, why I had duplicates or if I had completely forgotten I owned it, the item went bye-bye.

And now, I feel clean. Watching seven trash bags, five massive bins and two large boxes exit my room was so freeing! There’s less stuff and more space. More room to breathe. More room to be me.

The single downside I can think of: I clean & purge when I’m upset (I’m sort of the exact opposite of people who practice retail therapy) and now I don’t have anything to purge.. Guess I better avoid upsets. heh.

Are you a practicing minimalist? Does the idea of minimalism thrill you or scare you? What is a downside you’ve experienced to minimalism?

6 Reasons Why I’m Becoming a Minimalist

Why I don’t cut my hair, wear skirts and avoid makeup.

You may have noticed something’s a little different about me. Namely:

  • I don’t cut my hair
  • I wear knee-length skirts (or longer)
  • I avoid makeup

Let me start by saying: it is not my religion that makes me live this way, it is my relationship with Christ. My religion is made up of two things: caring for those in need (homeless, fatherless and widows – more thoughts on that here) and caring for myself as the temple of the Lord. My relationship with God is the unique standard by which I live my life. I don’t live under the law, but grace and love, which I express in reciprocation through the way I live- a set apart life style.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

-Romans 12:1-2

This is something that I have chosen for my life because of my ardent desire to live a lifestyle that is holy and acceptable unto the Lord. I AM NOT SAYING that I think you will “go to hell” if you don’t live by these standards. Salvation rests very securely in the hands of the Lord alone. I’m just explaining the why behind my own life.

This is a topic I could passionately rave about for hours on end, but I don’t want to keep you here for that long.. you may feel kidnapped and not want to come back. So I’ve narrowed each topic down as much as possible with some spiritual and some carnal reasoning. Hopefully this doesn’t turn into a decade long ramble. 🙂

Why I Don’t Cut My Hair

I used to take my long hair for granted. I found it annoying and frustrating and tiresome and a big bother overall. There was too much of it and I had no clue what to do with it. But as I started battling illness, my hair started thinning. I didn’t notice it much at first, but as the days went by, my hair continued to become shorter and thinner from breakage and fall out. One day, I was looking in the mirror and realized that my hair was half its old length and about a quarter of its thickness.

I’ll admit it. I sobbed. That was probably the first moment when I realized just how sick I was. As far back as I can remember, I never had struggles growing my hair and was only annoyed by how much and how fast. Now, suddenly (well not-so-suddenly, but it felt suddenly), I was among the ranks of women whom I’d seen tear up and mourn the loss of their hair due to various illnesses.

From that day forward, I purposed to take better care of my hair. Which brings me to my second reason:

When I realized that I was taking for granted a gift from God, I made a covenant with Him to take better care of it. Scripture says that a woman’s hair is her glory (1 Cor. 11:15) and is symbolic of her submission to God and the men over her life (1 Cor. 11:6-12… submission: a highly debated topic for another time 😉 ). I vowed to take care of my hair and treasure this gift.

Now I take vitamins and nourish these brown locks with oils after each wash. I don’t use a brush (only a wide tooth comb) and I’ve stopped teasing it and curling/straightening it except on rare occasions. I don’t dye/perm it, and am doing my best to embrace its natural unruliness. Finally, I don’t cut it, because every inch of it is valuable, no matter how long it gets. By all appearances, I have very healthy hair. It’s still falling out and breaking, which breaks my heart, but it’s in God’s hands. I’m doing the best I can, the rest is up to Him.

(Edit One Year Later: Because of the massive volume of requests, I finally wrote a post about my hair care routine. I’m so pleased to say that my hair has grown lengths and bounds since I wrote this post a year ago, in November of 2015. You can read about how I did it here!)

Why I Wear Skirts

I am a woman. I am so very proud of how God has designed me in a feminine way, according to His original plan. True pride in one’s gender means to embrace the strengths and limitations of it (example of strengths: ability to empathize and see the grand picture; example of weaknesses: nagging tendencies and monthlies. Need I say more?). I want to look as much the part as I can because I love who I am.

The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.

-Deuteronomy 22:5

I know there are pants for women and pants for men, personally I just don’t feel it’s enough of a difference. Anyhooo, I wear skirts because they’re the most widely recognized symbol of a female in our culture. I wear longer skirts for modesty purposes. I’m not particularly fond of showing thighs and bums. I don’t think it’s attractive or classy. I like class. I’ll stick with class.

Aside from that, skirt-wearing is not a weakness. I feel powerful in skirts (I am female, hear me nag!.. just kidding, just kidding!!! 😉 ) because I feel natural in them. Of course, this comes with practice and you have to learn how to be modest in them (like when you’re laying on the ground at work, trying not to pass out and have your feet propped up on a chair: hint, tuck the back of the skirt between your legs, it’ll stay up). When you get used to wearing them, skirts aren’t a nuisance.

FAQ of the Skirt Wearer:

Don’t your legs get cold?

My legs, strangely enough, rarely get cold. If they do, I just throw on some tights or knee-high socks and call it a day.

What do you wear to bed or to work out?

This varies for all skirt wearers, but I wear pants to bed and to workout at home. I usually go for the baggy sweats, because personally I don’t like to have my bum hanging out. When I’m working out in public, I either wear gauchos (really, really loose pants) or a runner’s skirt (a skirt with leggings attached).

The best and most used answer I give to any question is that annoying phrase my mom always says: where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Why I Avoid Makeup

I was raised to appreciate the natural beauty God gave me. I’m not saying I’m drop dead gorgeous, I’m saying that I feel beautiful because I know I was designed by the hand of our Creator. Each flaw (and I do have plenty) each blemish (I’m afraid to count the number of zits on my face right now) is just a reflection of my humanity. It’s my heart and actions that actually reflect myself, and both were designed to serve the Lord.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

-Ephesians 2:10

Aside from that, I want to mention that I feel really awkward in makeup. It feels like putting on someone else’s face. I don’t like not recognizing myself in a mirror. I do wear makeup for theater (though it’s been some time since I’ve had the energy for that). But that is simply for the purpose of appearing to have a face from the audience’s point of view. heh

The very biggest thing I can say about not wearing make up: ohemgee I sure do save a lot of money.

— — —

And that about wraps up the simplified version of why I don’t cut my hair, wear skirts and avoid makeup. If you have questions or want more details, please feel free to comment or send me an email. I’d love to ramble on some more. 😉

What are your thoughts on caring for our hair, skirts and makeup? (Keep it friendly, y’all 😀 )

Why I don’t cut my hair, wear skirts and avoid makeup.