Walt

Healthy eating to reduce stress.

 

Hi There,

This morning I talked about stress and what it can do to your body. Honestly, I knew stress could be hard on the body, but I didn’t realize just HOW MUCH it can impact your physical and mental health, until I’ve had to research it for my holistic nutrition classes.

It’s because of this I’m committed to helping you heal inside and out. I want you to feel the best you possibly can.

In a couple weeks I’ll begin the recipe program for this website. You’ll be able to find it in a separate tab under the Health page. Don’t worry I’ll send you the link when it’s up and running.

Your health and the path you take to get there is very important to me. I’m constantly striving for better ways to help you. Encouraging you to eat nutrient rich foods and offering recipes is one of those ways.

That’s why I’ve enlisted the expertise of
Executive Chef Walter Dobrovolny!

Walt

Walter is an award winning chef who has been in the food industry for almost thirty years. During this time he’s held every position imaginable in the catering, restaurant and food service business.

These are just a few of his accomplishments:

• United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) Great Chefs’ Tasting “Best Restaurant” 2008 and 2011

• Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 1996 – 2012

• UCP Fred Ferrara “Service Award” 2013

On a personal note, Walter is married to a wonderful woman (I know because she’s my sister!) They live in a south suburb of Chicago with their two children.

I’ve been a recipient of Walt’s cooking for over twenty years and I’m excited he’ll be joining me on this journey of creating nutrient rich and yummy recipes for all of you to try.

Why am I reaching out to such a qualified chef?

Well, for starters I need someone to test all these recipes I’ve been cooking up! In addition, the quality of information I send out is extremely important to me and I want to ensure you’re satisfaction.

Normally in my own kitchen when I create a new recipe I don’t measure. I add a little bit of this, a little bit of that, stir, taste, add some more seasonings…you get the idea!

I can’t very well send you a recipe with those kind of instructions. So I have to retrace my cooking steps and determine proper measurement of the ingredients.

I feel really fortunate to have Walter as my “quality control” guy. He’ll be cooking the recipes I send him and give me a thumbs up or thumbs down based on ease of cooking and taste. (You’ll only get the thumbs up version!)

HB 10_29_14

All the recipes will be made with whole, nutrient rich ingredients to help your body heal and strengthen your immune system. Yes, they’ll be yummy! Good for you and good taste don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Please join me in welcoming Walter!

Any of you out there who know what a great chef Walter is feel free to sing his praises in the comment section below.

Here’s to eating for our health!

Pam

PS. To read this mornings blog about What Happens to Your Body During Stress? click here.

MB 10_29_14

What Happens to Your Body During Stress?

MB 10_29_14Hello. I’ve shared with you in the Health page the various challenges I’ve faced over the past few years with my health. There’s no doubt in my mind that stress compromised my immune system.

I used to think I handled stress well. That was before Larry died, before my whole world got turned upside down and left me feeling as though my WHOLE life was one big stressor.

Besides the obvious grieving for my husband I also had to figure out how to help my children grieve. In addition, Larry was a sole proprietor and after he died the responsibility of keeping the business going fell on my shoulders. In one fell swoop I went from having a partner in life, parenting and business, to being on my own and being responsible for EVERYTHING!

This was definitely the most difficult time in my life and I now see I was in over my head. It’s no wonder my body couldn’t keep up. To make matters worse, that first year after Larry died I didn’t give much thought to what I put in my body. While I know I was doing the best I could, I wish had been better informed about the physical toll stress can have on the body.

Stress is something we all face. Even our children are experiencing more stress at a younger age. Stress can come in many forms: physical (injury), chemical (toxins), mental (worry), emotional (grief), nutritional (poor diet), traumatic (surgery) and psycho-spiritual (financial instability). With all the various forms of stress in the world there really is no escaping it.

So instead of asking how to avoid ALL stressful situations, the real questions are: what is stress and what does it do to the body? When is it good? When is it bad? And, what can we do to manage (i.e. live with) stress?

So what is stress?

Stress is the body’s natural defense mechanism against a threat, either real or perceived.

A real threat may arise when you’re crossing the street and notice a car is speeding toward you. An appropriate response would be to run for your life to avoid getting hit. You may notice your heart beating faster and you experience shortness of breath until you get to safety. After a short while your body will return to the state it was in before the car came speeding at you.

This is also known as the “flight or fight” response. According to Walter Cannon, a physiologist, neurologist and Harvard researcher, when there is threat, either perceived or real, the body will involuntarily prepare itself to flee (that is, to remove itself from conflict) or fight (protect itself or those around it). Cannon himself coined the term “flight or fight” after much research in the early 1900’s.

Now let’s discuss a threat that’s perceived. You may be working for a company that’s experiencing financial difficulties and continually lays off employees. You go to work each day in fear of being told that you, too, will be laid off. Your body experiences the same symptoms mentioned above; increased heart rate, shortness of breath and atypical sweating. The difference between this perceived threat and the real threat is that under a perceived threat the body doesn’t always return to the state it was before the threat arose. Hence you start to live in a state of chronic stress.

This is exactly what I faced when Larry was first diagnosed with his illness and it continued way past his death.

So what does happen to your body when it’s under stress?

stress

When stress occurs the brain and pituitary gland respond by releasing adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). This hormone stimulates the adrenals to increase production of the hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol. The main adrenal hormones, epinephrine and norepinephrine, are the main stimuli to the stress response. This is what happens to the body when these hormones are released:

• Heart rate increases

• Blood pressure increases

• Body temperature may become irregular

• Certain blood vessels constrict to increase blood flow to muscles and brain (ever heard of superhuman strength during a time of crisis?)

• Blood flow to the digestive tract decreases (are you constipated or having difficulty losing weight?)

• Adrenaline raises blood sugar and stimulates the liver to produce and release more glucose into the blood. This is very important for everyone to understand but especially for those diagnosed with diabetes.

As I mentioned above, living with chronic stress does not allow the body to return to its normal homeostasis state (the state you were in before you lived with chronic stress).

Does all that information make you feel more stressed? Yikes!

But remember there is good stress and bad stress. What’s the difference?

I see this information as a good stressor. Knowledge is power and the more you understand internal and external factors that affect your level of stress the better you’ll get at taking time to actively manage stress in your daily life.

On the flip side, chronic stress is certainly not good for your body. Living in a chronic state of stress lowered my immune system, left me susceptible to many illnesses and I believe is the cause of my thyroid disorder. I’m sharing this with you to help you make better decisions, which will hopefully help you in coping with stress.

So what can you do to manage stress?

Psychologist Richard Lazarus believes it’s not stress that’s the problem, but your ability to handle stress that determines what it will do to your body. Here are some of the many stress management techniques you can put into practice:

• Exercise: start slowly if you’re beginning a new routine and be careful not to physically tax your body. Walking is an excellent way to get back into exercising.

• Eat a nutrient rich diet

• Go to counseling

• Try your hand at journaling

• Incorporate meditation and/or prayer into your day

• Remember: be gentle on yourself and the time you need to heal!

I will be covering all of these stress management techniques -and more- in future blog posts.

What about grief and stress?

This is a tough one, I’ll be the first to admit. We didn’t ask for this stress in our life, but we’re left to manage the best we can. I wish I knew four years ago what I know today (don’t we all!) Perhaps I would’ve followed the “be gentle on yourself” advice a little more closely. Or maybe I would’ve altered my diet sooner. But I can’t change the past and I certainly don’t dwell on it (who needs that kind of stress!) Instead, I focus on today and what steps I take in my life to manage stress going forward.

One of the biggest changes I’ve made since being diagnosed with valley fever in 2012 was to find a way back to writing. I gave up writing for the first two years after Larry died. I had too many other issues on my plate to deal with.

After getting sick and taking months to recover. I reevaluated my life and the amount of stress that was in it.

At this point, the majority of my stress was related to the business. Larry’s business was in real estate investment and development. I found I was most stressed when I had to deal with city inspectors, contractors, and unexpected issues that arose and cost more than anticipated (which is typical in remodels and development!)

I didn’t want to live with that kind of stress anymore so I had to make a choice: how did I want to live my life? To figure this out I asked myself the very same questions I posed to you in last week’s blog, Finding Your Higher Purpose.

This is my answer to last week’s questions:

• What comes to mind immediately when someone asks you what you love most? My children.

•What can you do over and over without it feeling like work? Write.

• What would you be doing right now even if you weren’t getting paid? Writing, helping others heal.

That’s when it hit me. I wanted to be a good mother to my children. When I’m stressed, I’ll admit, my patience is short, especially with my children. So I knew in order to be a good mom I had to be good to myself. I had to find a way to get back to doing what brings peace and joy in my life.

It took me almost another two years to prioritize and get my business affairs running smoothly so I could do what I’m doing today. It’s a juggling act most days trying to write, take classes for my holistic nutrition certification and take care of business issues as they come up, but finding a way to fit into my life what I love makes me more than willing to do it!

Thank you for being a part of my higher purpose!

Of course I still have stress in my life. Remember, I have three adolescent boys! But I practice various stress reducing techniques on a daily basis, depending on the situation.

I pray you’ll find a way to incorporate stress reducing techniques into your life.

Pam

 

PS. Be a friend and share this newsletter with anyone you know who may be living with chronic stress.

I am Lovedand I am Worth It!

Affirming My Life!

I am Lovedand I am Worth It!

This morning I shared with you how I found my higher purpose after Larry died. In addition to asking myself the questions listed in this morning’s blog, I also turned to another wellness practice I’ve used for over twenty years: affirmations.

I first learned about affirmations from an unexpected source during a leadership training at Whole Foods Market.

Every team member in a leadership role was required to take this week-long leadership series. Each day focused on a different aspect of the business with the last day being dedicated to effective leadership. I attended this final class taught by the current Co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, John Mackey.

Initially I didn’t understand why an executive of a publicly traded company would be talking about a new-age concept during a training seminar. But I listened intently as he described what an affirmation was, how to state an affirmation and how to incorporate it into your daily life.

I was intrigued. It was during a time in my life where I was searching to find my purpose. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

Throughout the years affirmations became a tool I turned to frequently as part of my wellness practice. Creating and stating affirmations helped me immensely after Larry died and I had to figure out my new purpose in life.

If you haven’t heard of affirmations before, you may have a few questions.

What is an affirmation?

An affirmation is a powerful, positive statement you create that provides you with emotional support and encouragement.

Do affirmations really work?

The Huffington Post published the following article on May 2, 2013;
Self-Affirmation Could Boost Problem-Solving Skills When You’re Stressed: Study.
The study followed a number of college students who reported to be under an intense amount of stress. Half the group participated in self-affirmation exercises while the other half did not. At the end of the study all participants were asked to complete a task that measured problem solving capabilities. Those that practiced self-affirmations were able to problem solve better than those who did not.

How do you create an affirmation?

Here are some tips to create an affirmation:

Keep it in the present. The affirmation is how you want to live your life today. The past is over and the future will align with how you think today.

Be positive. An affirmation affirms how you think, feel and act. If you put negative words or actions in your affirmation, the results will be negative.

Keep it short and simple. An affirmation can be a few words or sentence. You don’t have to write a paragraph or full page. If you have that much to write, create more than one affirmation.

Be true to you. Create affirmations that enhance who you are, or the person you want to be.

This is how I create affirmations for myself:

I think of someone or something I love. For example, my children. Then I think of a positive interaction, my love for them. I think of how I want our relationship to be. Then I write the affirmation down.

I love my children and I am a good mother to them.

Do I think of an affirmation every day?

No, I don’t think of one every day. I have some affirmations that I repeat almost every day, like the affirmation above. Sometimes when I’m entering a new venture, such as this website, I’ll think of an affirmation for that and repeat it each time I write for this blog. It’s really up to you how many and how often you create an affirmation. I certainly wouldn’t want to put any added stress or pressure to how you feel today by placing a quantitative measurement on coming up with affirmations. All I’ll say is that the more you practice stating your affirmations the more you’ll see changes in your life.

In the very dark days after Larry died I had a difficult time coming up with affirmations. My usual Pollyanna self, who had the capability of seeing the silver lining in most situations, had lost all sense of joy and hope. But I knew from my years of living with affirmations, I only needed one to start.

At this time my affirmation, much like the higher purpose I originally sought, was dedicated to my children. In those first months following Larry’s death, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees, but I knew one thing: I wanted my children to heal. That became the foundation of my healing once more. Every day I watched my children, I had one thought, one affirmation:

I love my children more than anything and I am committed to helping them heal.

As I healed, I’ve been able to add more affirmations.

Here are some of my affirmations that I state on a regular basis:

• I take time for myself every morning to start my day peacefully
• I am surrounded by beauty
• I am loved and I have a lot of love to give
• My decisions in life are based on love

This morning I asked you to think about your higher purpose. This afternoon I give you a tool to help you achieve that purpose.

I also encourage you to start creating some affirmations for yourself. If you find you are having a difficult time, remember, you only need one.

I would love for you to share it, if you are comfortable in doing so, in the comment section below.

If you can’t think of one right now, don’t be upset with yourself, to get you started I’ll give you one:

I am loved and I am worth it!

Many Blessings,
Pam

To read this morning’s article, click here.

PS. Since that training session many years ago numerous public figures have come forward stating that affirmations were a key factor to their success. So maybe a leadership training wasn’t such a strange place to hear about affirmations after all.

 

MB 10_22_14

Finding My Higher Purpose

MB 10_22_14

For years I struggled to find my purpose in life. I did everything I was supposed to do. I went to college and got a degree in accounting, then went on to more schooling to obtain my masters in finance so I could further my career. I held a lucrative position as a Regional Controller for Whole Foods Market. But something was missing. I yearned for a family.

That came in the year 2000: the best decade of my life. I got married, had three kids and took a leap of faith, turning in my accounting hat for a writer’s pen. For the next ten years I felt complete. As a mother I gave and received much love. As an aspiring writer I felt renewed with hopes and possibilities for a new career. Best of all I had the love and support of a wonderful husband who was the anchor to it all.

And then he died.

My anchor got pulled away and I was left to drift through life all on my own.

Nothing in the world made sense anymore. To make matters worse it seemed as though everyone was moving forward with their lives and I was stuck in a parallel existence. I lived with one foot in the past and one in the present. I didn’t even want to think about a future. All I could do was scream inside like a temperamental toddler, “I had a future, I want that future back!”

But life has a way of propelling you forward, forcing you to take the next step. Grief, however, added resistance every time I tried to move. It felt as though I was traveling up a downward moving staircase. And I kept slipping. I was so tired, I didn’t want to keep moving, the force against me felt too strong. But there was a bigger force within me that wouldn’t let me give up.

That force was my boundless love for my children.

I thank God every day for my children. They were my saving grace from the get go. They had no idea that my love for them and desire to help them heal far outweighed my exhaustion and yearning to crawl under a rock and hide. I pushed myself to get up and face the day for their sake. They became my motivation, my determination – my purpose for living.

They were so young. They didn’t deserve to have this trauma in their childhood. I felt horrible that I couldn’t protect them from the pain. Isn’t that what a parent is supposed to do? Clean the wound, kiss it and promise it would all be better? How could I promise something I wasn’t so sure about myself?

And what about me? Why couldn’t I get out of bed for myself? Unfortunately, this early in the grieving stage I really needed an external purpose. In the beginning, my sole focus and purpose for living was to be there for my children.

And therein lay the rub. To help my children heal, I had to heal as well.

Each day I had to get out of bed, make their breakfasts, lunches, and take them to school. Every afternoon I had to pick them up, do homework, go to an activity, feed them dinner then face the bed-time routine. I would collapse in my own bed very soon after saying good night to them, already dreading that I would have to face another day without Larry.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was affirming my own life, my own existence, one tiny step at a time. I’m sure you’ve heard the clichés over the years: “walk the talk,” “fake it until you make it…”

These notions stem from Aristotle’s ethics and virtues, where he once noted that we become virtuous by acting virtuously. The more we practice a habit, the more the habit becomes reality.

In the beginning I got out of bed each day to care for my children: they became my higher purpose. As time passed I started to get out of bed to live my own life.

Are you searching for your higher purpose? What gets you out of bed each day?

Here are some tips to help you find it:

What comes to mind immediately when someone asks you what you love most?
• What can you do over and over without it feeling like work?
• What would you be doing right now even if you weren’t getting paid?

Answering these questions helped me immensely. My love for my children was what got me out of bed each morning. After a while, my desire to write came back, but with a different voice. And, after experiencing such a profound level of grief, a new purpose came to light: one that would help others heal. This soon became a driving force of who I am today.

My life today is certainly not what I would have I envisioned it to be five years ago. But as I learned when I sought a new purpose in creating a family, one’s purpose can and often does change as life changes.

Right now my life is filled with a multitude of purposes. My children remain at the top of the list in my life, but I have added more: my dogs, myself, my relationships with my family and friends and now a new community that makes me want to live my life to the best of my abilities.

I used to pray each day for Mother Mary to help me just get through the day, yearning for the moment I could crawl into my bed and go to sleep, to that place where I could escape reality.

Now I pray She helps me embrace each day, live in the moment and appreciate all I have.

I no longer dread the rising sun and all that waits for me ahead.

Life is still very hectic – how can it not be with three adolescent boys? I’m still alone (I haven’t remarried), but I don’t feel alone anymore. I’ve filled my life with love. The power of that love makes me want to experience every new day.

If grief has recently come into your life, you may be wondering if you even have a purpose. I’m here to tell you that you do, but you have to find it on your own.

Start with one simple question- what brings love into your life? Focus on that one thing, until you feel ready to ask the next question.

I pray you find love in your day,

Pam

PS. The boys in the photo are my children (photo from 2008). They helped me get through the most difficult time in my life. I love them to pieces!

summerveg (2)

Essential Foods to Help Your Body Heal

 summerveg (2)

Hello there,

Each week you’ll get a follow up to the main newsletter with a few extra tips to help you heal not just your heart, but your whole body. It may be a simple recipe or detailed information about health (such as this follow up) or wellness practices.

This morning I shared with you the shock I experienced immediately following the death of my husband Larry. If you haven’t read it check it our here.

Once the shock wore off I was left with an enormous amount of grief. The last thing I wanted to think about was food.

I still remember opening the fridge and staring for what seemed like an eternity only to shut it and grab a protein bar from the pantry. I had no energy to think about food, prepare food, or eat food. But I knew I had to put something in my body.

If you’re a relative or friend of someone going through a difficult time this is where you can lend a helping hand. See my tips below on how you can help.

Looking back I now see how my body became depleted of essential nutrients. I was doing the best I could under the circumstances, as I’m sure you are too.

I didn’t realize when the body suffers a trauma, physically or emotionally, it has to work extra hard to repair itself. If you don’t have the right amount of nutrients your body will draw from reserves previously stored.

But there is only so much time before the reserves run out.

While all your vitamins and minerals may need extra nourishing, I’m going to keep it simple today and focus on the two which are predominantly lost when you’re under continuous duress- Vitamins C and E.

Vitamin C is critical to immune function, certain nerve transmitting substances, hormones and helps with the absorption of other nutrients. It’s also a powerful antioxidant.

Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant. It protects against damage to cell membranes, particularly nerve cells.

Below you’ll find list of common fruits and vegetables that are high in Vitamin C or E. You’ll get the most nutritional value if you eat them raw. The nutrient value tends to decrease in the cooking process. But if you can’t stomach raw veggies, better to eat them cooked than not at all!

What do you do with all this information? It depends on your appetite.

If you’re like me during moments of upheaval and have little or no appetite, I recommend eating smaller quantities more frequently.

Keep it simple. Cut up any fruits and vegetables from the lists below and store them in sealed containers so they will be available to snack on easily throughout the day. If the fruit or vegetables start to turn before you eat them, put them in the freezer to be used at a later time for soup or smoothies.

If you tend to eat more during difficult moments, be extra conscious of what you’re putting into your body and be sure to incorporate a variety of the foods from the list below.

Again, if you’re the relative or friend of someone who is going through a difficult time help out by chopping and storing these foods and drop them off at a pre-arranged time.

Here are some simple grab from the fridge/pantry ideas:

  • Bowl of cut up fruit
  • Handful of Almonds
  • Red and green peppers with hummus
  • Salad of mixed greens, asparagus and tomatoes sprinkled with sunflower seeds, drizzle with olive oil
  • Whole pieces of fruit, orange or grapefruit

In the future I will offer some nutrient rich recipes. For now, the focus is to get you started in nourishing your body.

Be sure to drink LOTS of water. The recommended amount is to drink half your body weight in a day. But if you’re faced with grief and find yourself crying throughout the day drink an extra glass or two. Squeezing lemon juice into your water is a great way to soothe your body and get extra vitamin C.

Here’s another tip for the friend: juice a bunch of lemons, 2-3 lemons per glass container. This way the juice is readily available to add to water. Any juice not consumed within a few days can be frozen for later use.

When a person is recovering from a great shock ANY assistance you can provide is beneficial.

The list below is taken from the Encyclopedia of Healing Foods,

Common Vegetables and Fruits high in Vitamin C,

• Red sweet peppers
• Kale
• Green sweet peppers
• Broccoli
• Cauliflower
• Strawberries
• Oranges
• Lemon Juice
• Grapefruit
• Asparagus
• Cantaloupe
• Tomatoes

Common Vegetables and Fruits with a high content of Vitamin E,

• Sunflower seeds (quality kernels, not the kind you eat at a baseball game)
• Almonds
• Spinach
• Tomato
• Asparagus
• Avocados
• Broccoli
• Lemon Juice
• Grapefruit
• Asparagus
• Cantaloupe
• Tomatoes

As with any dietary recommendations, if you are taking medicine or suffer from a chronic condition, please consult your doctor. There may be adverse effects. For instance, if you are taking certain cholesterol medications you may not be able to eat grapefruit. Citrus may need to be limited if you suffer from kidney stones.

I pray this helps you take a step toward keeping your body nourished.

Pam

MB 10_15_14

Yes, It Really Happened – When the Shock is Over

MB 10_15_14

Dear Friend,

Today, October 15th, marks the four-year anniversary of my husband Larry’s death.

It was a Wednesday when I had to face the reality that my husband would not live much longer.

The ventilator was breathing for him and it was only a matter of time, his doctors told me. I could not comprehend at that moment the full impact of Larry not being with me every day for the rest of my life. I knew I wanted to savor every last second we had together and I pushed away as much as I could any thoughts of him dying.

I talked to him, I caressed his arm, and I slept in a chair next to his bed with his hand in mine the whole night. I couldn’t let go, not yet, it was too soon. We have three young boys, we have so many plans for our future together. I sat in the chair, with the lights out, all I could think was; this can’t be happening, this can’t be happening.

Larry died two days later due to complications that arose from Acute Myeloid Leukemia. A day that is forever engraved on my soul, October 15, 2010, a Friday. A day when most people are celebrating the end of the work week and making plans for the weekend, I had to make plans for my husbands’ funeral. I stared out the window the whole way home from the hospital and all I could think was; this can’t be happening, this can’t be happening.

We flew to Chicago for the wake and funeral since the majority of family and friends were there. Chicago was our home before we moved to Arizona. Chicago is where Larry and I met, fell in love, and created a family. It only felt right I bring him home. But even as I drove through familiar streets, greeted family and friends over the course of a week, all I could think was; this can’t be happening, this can’t be happening.

The whole week felt as though the real me had been abducted and an impostor, one who could go through the motions and think about mundane things like “I wish I had time to color my hair before I left Arizona,” was sent in my place. Physically it was me in that body accepting well wishes and condolences, but emotionally I had shut down. I kept waiting for the moment where I would break down or faint at some point during the week, but I didn’t. I listened as people commented on how strong I was, how I had to be there for the kids.

What is wrong with me, I thought more than once, why do I feel so numb?

I didn’t know then that my body had mercifully kept going while my mind went on autopilot.

After a week the kids and I flew back to Arizona. On the drive from the airport to our house I found myself staring out the car window once more, with the same thought, this can’t be happening, this can’t be happening.

The next morning, utterly exhausted, I had to go through the motions of getting my children ready for school. We all sat at the kitchen table that morning, speechless, picking at our food, and wishing we didn’t have to face the day ahead, none of us were ready to face reality, face a life without Larry. The boys didn’t want to go to school, but I told them they had to. I drove them to school, walked each one to their classroom and gave each one a hug and said “I love you,” before I turned and walked away, my heart breaking for my children.

Walking through the door once I got home I was not greeted by Larry, who worked from home and would usually be in the kitchen getting a cup of coffee. I did not see the smile on his face as I used to when he would turn and ask me, “Everyone get off ok?” Instead I was greeted by pain, fear and a deafening silence. Eleven days had passed since Larry died. Eleven days of being in the company of others, eleven days of keeping my mind busy with tasks, eleven days I was able to keep reality at bay. But no longer, today was the moment it hit me- Yes, it happened, Yes, Larry is gone. I am alone, completely and utterly all alone. God help me.

This new reality hit me like a tidal wave causing my knees to buckle and my body to crumble to the floor. It felt as though someone had kicked me in the stomach and I couldn’t catch my breath. Every facet of my existence was in pain. Physically my whole body ached, emotionally I felt confused and abandoned, and spiritually I felt as though I was surrounded by darkness. For a brief moment I honestly didn’t care if I lived or died, I wanted this unbearable pain to go away.

Shock is the body’s mechanism of coping with the unbearable. Shock from Larry’s death kept me going those first eleven days.

If I had tried to absorb the pain all at once, I may never have stood up again.

MB 10_15_14 2

But there comes a moment when the shock slides away and we have to face reality.

That is when grief sets in and day by day we begin to understand our lives will never be the same.

I share this first morning home alone without Larry with you for a couple of reasons. In order to understand how far I have come, you have to understand how far I fell. Also, I suspect if you have suffered a great loss you, too, have had a similar fall from grace that left you paralyzed and unsure how to move forward.

Although your life may never be the same, you still have a life. You can still live it to the best of your abilities.

No matter if it’s recent or years have passed, you’re not alone. I am here to hold your hand, walk by your side and let you know, that one day, you will be ok. No matter at what point of grief you are, keep taking one step at a time.

One day you will laugh and it won’t be accompanied by a twinge of guilt. One day the sun will be so bright and filled with hope for your future you’ll need to shield your eyes. One day, your heart will not ache as painfully as it did the day your loved one left this existence. It all starts with one step, take that step today.

It’s been four years since Larry passed away. Some days it feels like yesterday, others it feels like forever. I’ve done my best to create a life for me and my children that is filled with love and joy. Larry would expect nothing less of me.

You too will find a way.

Peace be with you in every step,

Pam

PS. The tree in the picture is planted at my home in honor of Larry. It’s a Tipu tree that is fast growing with an umbrella canopy to provide lots of shade. In the spring a coat of golden bloom flowers will appear. The plaque shown is placed with the tree along with a bench. This brings me peace that whenever I feel the need I can walk outside and sit quietly for a little while.

Peace of mind

My Road to Wellness

Peace of mind

 

My road to wellness has been winding and bumpy and I’ve hit a few pot holes along the way.

I was fortunate to have been taught various wellness practices at a relatively young age that I continue to incorporate in my daily life. Unfortunately, my realization about putting wellness practices at the forefront of my daily life arose from a diagnosis of severe acid reflux at the young age of twenty-four.

At the time I was the head accountant at Whole Foods Market in the Midwest region, I was studying for my CPA, and had plans to get my masters in finance. Whew! I was quite ambitious!

With my busy schedule I relied on fast food and take-out for most of my meals. I smoked about ½ pack of cigarettes a day and by Friday I was more than a willing participant to meet up for happy hour! I was young and I felt invincible.

Then I began to develop severe migraines, the kind that makes you nauseous and blinded by light. Sleep was the only remedy for me when a migraine hit.

It was during this time that I started experiencing acid reflux. It became severe when I couldn’t even brush my teeth without gagging up bile from my stomach.

According to my doctor at the time, the acid reflux was brought on by stress and lifestyle choices. How many times have you heard your doctor tell you your symptoms are related to stress?Well I had big plans for my career and I wasn’t about to let a little thing like stress get in my way! Still, I didn’t like having to take medication every day, especially at such a young age.

That was my wake up call. Continue to let stress and lifestyle choices get the better of me, eventually get an ulcer, OR be proactive with managing stress and make better lifestyle choices. I chose the latter.

I started to explore my spirituality and began praying every day. I paid more attention to the food choices I made (I was working for a leading retailer in the natural foods industry for goodness sake!), and I started to practice stress-reducing techniques. Eventually I was able to get off the prescription medicine for acid reflux. And the migraines stopped once I quit smoking.

By the time I left Whole Foods to start my family I felt enlightened and capable of handling the trials and tribulations of marriage and motherhood. Little did I know how stressful motherhood could be! But I felt fortunate that I had a list of wellness practices that I could rely on and I did many times. I didn’t need them all at once, typically choosing one or two at a time would help.

Until my husband Larry died.

Then I needed ALL the tools I had learned over the years. I strongly believe I would not be where I am today if I didn’t work at getting well.

That’s right, it does take work to not only heal but also to manage staying well as you live your life. I won’t lie to you: there’s no easy button. Rest assured though, it can be done and that’s why I have created this wellness page. I’ve done the research, I’ve already implemented various wellness practices in my life, and I want to share this all with you.

On the wellness page you’ll find practical and informative blogs/videos regarding:

  •  Stress and how it effects your body
  • Tips on managing stress
  • Journaling
  • Affirmations
  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Beneficial physical activities

As I stated on the health page there’s no one-size-fits-all. What works for one person may not for another. I will help you figure out what works best for YOU!

I really want to hear from you. Is there a particular wellness practice you want more information about? What have you already incorporated into your daily life that works well? Please share, there are many others who would love to hear your story.

Be sure to check out the Health page where I will explore what we put in our bodies and how it helps us heal. My biggest hope and prayer for you is that you find your own road to wellness and enjoy the life you have.

Many Blessings,

 Pam

HB 10_8_14

My Path to Healing

HB 10_8_14

 

I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying “The greatest wealth is health” by Virgil, an ancient Roman poet. I couldn’t agree more.

Sadly, like most people, I took my good health for granted until I no longer had it.

How did I go from feeling vibrant, happy and excited about life to chronically fatigued, suffering from inflammation and overall not feeling as good as I know I could?

How did I lose sight of my health and let my immune system become compromised?

Unfortunately, as I mention on my home page, I didn’t understand the mind-body connection and how grief and stress could physically deplete my immune system. After my husband died it took every ounce of energy I had to focus on wellness techniques for me and my children, which included grief counseling, journaling, praying and more. I had nothing left to give.

I was so exhausted following Larry’s death I relied on coffee (2-3 cups) to get me through the day. I had no appetite and barely ate. I would grab a protein bar, Greek yogurt or apple mostly because I knew I had to eat something. Thankfully I had a wonderful community that provided meals a few nights a week to help me get dinner on the table for my children.

I suffered from one sinus infection after another, strep throat and I developed a persistent cough. The multiple rounds of antibiotics further damaged my gut health.

In the fall of 2012 I got valley fever. Valley fever is contracted by breathing in a spore-like fungus found in the soil in dry-desert regions. While I’m thankful it didn’t settle in my lungs, like it does with most people, it did attack my muscles and joints leaving me with chronic inflammation.

Most recently I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. There’s no doubt the stress of grieving took a toll on my body. My cortisol and adrenals (more on that in a blog) were overtaxed and obviously had impacted my thyroid.

The good news is that I have spent over a year focusing on diet and besides my thyroid (which is more than I wish to deal with), recent bloodwork revealed all my vitamins, minerals, glucose, hormones, adrenals (yeah!) and cortisol (another yeah!) levels were excellent.

I strongly believe changing my diet has helped me tremendously. I haven’t had one infection, virus or cold in over a year since I focused on what I put into my body. Food became my medicine.

Don’t worry, the information I provide is to support you, not make you feel bad about what you currently eat or don’t eat. Food is VERY personal. I will provide information, YOU make the decisions.

I’m currently on track to get certified in holistic nutrition so I can provide you with up-to-date quality information to help you:

  • Boost your immune system
  • Improve gut health
  • Combat fatigue
  • Create healthy and simple recipes to incorporate in your daily life
  • Plus much more

You have suffered enough with your loss. If there’s anything I can do to help you and others not suffer the same fate I have been dealt, living with a chronic health condition, I will do it.

Be sure to check out my Wellness page where I discuss my own road to Wellness.

Here’s to healing!

 

Pam

iStock_000003205386Small

Welcome!

iStock_000003205386Small

 

Welcome to PamelaSimon.com!

I am honored you have chosen to view my website.

PamelaSimon.com has been created to assist others facing life challenges. No matter what your unexpected life challenge; death of a loved one, divorce, loss of job, chronic illness, guiding children with special needs, I want you to know that you are not alone. At PamelaSimon.com you will find an avenue that will empower you to heal and create the life you want to live.

You may be wondering: how does one begin to heal when the loss is so great?

Honestly, just one step at a time.

It is my belief that in order to truly heal, the whole person- the body, mind and spirit- needs to heal. My focus will be on providing tools and information that embody love, faith, and being true to oneself. In doing so, I know you will find peace and joy in your life once more.

I know this because I have lived it. When my husband Larry died, my life as I knew it ended. Never in my wildest dreams when I envisioned getting married and creating a family did I think I would end up widowed at forty-two. Left alone and responsible for three young children, one with special needs, was more daunting and crippling than I ever could have imagined. Where do I turn? What will become of my life? I had so many questions, and very few (if any) answers.

Although it has been almost four years since Larry passed away, I clearly remember the feelings of isolation, fear, and insecurity that threatened to take over who I was as a person. It felt as though my life had ended, yet I was still here, still breathing. Somehow, I had to get up each day, take care of my children, and start to create a new life.

My journey is not unique, but it is very personal, as is yours. During these last four years I have been blessed to be surrounded by a community that cares. I have been guided by others who also have suffered a great loss. I have gained many tools to assist in not only healing, but creating a life worth living.

My hope in sharing my journey through this website is to help guide you through your own. My journey is not over. I continue to face challenges in my life, as will you, but getting back to the basics and using the tools I have, I continue to not only meet each challenge but rise above it.

I hope you will join me as I explore topics that accompany life challenges, and use the tools I provide. All the information provided through this site will be free of charge. In fact, I will have some great giveaways! Hey, we all need something positive in our life!

Here are some upcoming topics you won’t want to miss:

  • What happens to your body during stress?
  • Allow Love in your life
  • Find a Higher Purpose
  • Breathe…
  • Recreating the family nucleus
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • All these forms are worse than tax season.
  • Children and grief
  • Surround yourself with beauty

Besides the topics listed above I want to know what you are most interested in learning about. I want this platform to be a supportive community, so please, don’t be shy, send me an email. Tell me what you need, want or wish to know. Until then, let’s get started living our lives…

Be sure to check out the Health and Wellness pages where I share my journey of healing and maintaining wellness in my life.

With Gratitude,

 

Pam