Boost Your Immunity Juice

 

Boost Your Immunity Juice

Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free

Do you have a lot of stress in your life?

Are you coping with any allergies?

Both of these situations, and many more, can affect your immune system.

Why not arm yourself with some of nature’s best medicine; Vitamins, Minerals, Enzymes and Phytonutrients.

What I love about this juice, besides how good it tastes, is that George and Charlie helped me to create it!

 

This Boost Your Immunity Juice is kid friendly and only has a few ingredients, so it’s simple and quick to make.

Servings: 2

Ingredients:


10 Organic Carrots, ends trimmed

2 Organic Oranges, remove skin

1 inch of ginger, skin removed

 

Optional:

 

Handful of organic strawberries, washed

 

Method:

Wash and prepare vegetables and fruit. Place in juicer one at a time to prevent jamming.

ENJOY!

Pam’s tip: Buy in bulk to save money.

It’ OK to Laugh

 

It’s OK to Laugh

Hi There,

Grieving is unique to the individual

If there’s one thing I’ve learned with respect to grief, it’s there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Processing and healing from grief is unique to each person as much as our DNA is unique to each of us. While we may have similar experiences and questions, our reactions and paths are our own.

In last week’s post, “Yes, It Really Happened”, I mentioned a few common questions I heard during the grieving process. “Will I ever laugh again?” is one of the most prominent questions asked by anyone who is suffering from a great loss. I certainly had that thought after my husband, Larry, passed away.

Why should I be able to laugh and enjoy life if he couldn’t?

I don’t know why but it felt wrong, awkward, for me to be laugh because, in reality, there was nothing for me to laugh at.

It was only a month or so after Larry died that I was at a school function with my children. I was talking with a group of moms, about what I don’t remember, most likely swapping stories about our kids, which of course can be great material for laughter. While I can’t recall the conversation, I clearly remember someone said something funny and intuitively I laughed.

As soon as the sound of laughter escaped my lips I gasped and closed my mouth and wanted to cry. Instead I turned from the group and walked away.

I felt embarrassed, mortified and very guilty that my husband had recently passed away and here I was laughing. I worried people would think I didn’t miss him. I felt guilty that I could still laugh, and he couldn’t. What is wrong with me? I wondered all the way home and for days to come. It really bothered me and made me question how I was processing my grief.

Of course, I was being WAY too hard on myself. I had never experienced such profound grief and at this stage of grief I didn’t know what was acceptable and what wasn’t. At the time little did I know, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Some people cry, some laugh, some yell, and most… do a little bit of it all.

Gotta love an Irish wake

Now, being of Irish descent I’ve attended many funerals of loved ones and learned from an early age what an Irish wake is. My grandmother, who was 100% Irish, never seemed to care what people thought when she laughed, drank and told stories about the recently deceased. And while we all shed many tears when she died, we followed in her footsteps during the luncheon that followed and did the same.

So why did I feel so guilty laughing?

Part of the grief process for me has been reconciling two conflicting halves of my brain: the emotional half that doesn’t want to let go and move forward and the rational half that knows in order to heal I must take steps to move forward.

The first time I really laughed out loud the emotional half of my brain shut down every logical reason the rational half was trying to convey and guilt set in.

Worst of all I felt I had betrayed Larry.

Seeing others laugh gave me hope

A short while later, I attended my first group meeting at New Song, the Center for Grieving Children. It was right before Christmas and after introductions were made each member shared their plans for the holiday. I was very fragile having to face my first holiday without Larry and quite frankly I wished we could just skip the holidays that year.

While I sat there wishing away the holidays, a woman who had been going to New Song for over a year, shared that she and her children were going to go to Disneyland over the holiday break and she was smiling and joking that her husband would be with them in Spirit.

What? Wait a minute… She’s taking her kids to Disneyland? That’s allowed?  And… she’s laughing about her husband?

Instead of any negative judgement of betrayal that I had placed on myself the first time I laugh out loud, I felt complete awe and admiration.

Here was another person who lost their spouse and in an amazing and incredible manner, she found a way to laugh and enjoy her new life and include her spouse, even if it is only in thought.

It gave me hope.

This time the rational half of my brain took over. Of course, Larry would want you to enjoy your life and laugh once more. No, he doesn’t think you are betraying him.

Attending the group session at New Song gave me (and the emotional half of my brain) the permission I needed to laugh and not feel guilty. And I believe with all my heart Larry would want me and the boys to laugh.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Laughter, we’ve all heard, is the best medicine. While the saying has been around for a while, today research has proven laughter has positive effects on the body. According to Psychology Today and Mayo Clinic, the following are physical effects brought on from laughter:

Short-term benefits

  • Helps your blood vessels function better
  • Increase feel-good endorphins released by the brain
  • Reduce stress
  • Soothe tension, stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation

Long-term benefits

  • Improve your immune system
  • Relieve pain
  • Increase personal satisfaction
  • Improve your mood

It’s OK to Laugh

As I look back on the very early stages of my grief, I realize I should’ve been much kinder to myself. Mostly, I’m grateful for all the people who have crossed my path and brought laughter into my life.

I’m especially grateful to my dogs, Star and Cruiser, who brought so much love, joy and laughter into our home. In my experience babies and dogs (and other pets) bring the greatest joy and so many funny antics, one can’t help but laugh. Since I’m done having babies, I’m relying on my dogs and their quirky looks to give me my daily laugh!

I pray you find a path for joy and laughter to be a part of your life.

Many Blessings,

Pam

P.S. The picture above is Larry making Charlie laugh. He would do anything to make the boys laugh!

Yes, It Really Happened

 

Yes, It Really Happened

Dear Friend,

You are not mistaken, today is Tuesday, not Wednesday, the day I normally send out the weekly newsletter. I am sending it today, October 15, 2019, because this is the anniversary of Larry’s death.

Since Larry passed away nine years ago, there have been subsequent deaths of loved ones and acquaintances. In offering my condolences I am often faced by the bereaved family member with some questions. The questions below are common and the same questions I had when Larry died.

“The pain is unbearable will it ever go away?”

“Will I ever stop crying?”

“Will there be any joy in my life?”

“Will I ever laugh again?”

Yet, the most common feeling I hear from each person is, “I can’t believe this happened.”

My response has been to offer comfort and reassurance that as you grieve and cry some of the pain goes with the grief and tears. Each person will follow their own path in grief, but you will find joy and you will laugh again one day. There is no timetable to follow, there is no specific path, we all have our own journey.

And, yes, when Larry died, I too felt at one point or another sucker punched in the gut and thought, “I can’t believe this happened.”

It is these conversations that keep me wanting to share my story, to help others know…

Yes, it really happened. But you are NOT alone.

 So, even though I have shared this post in the past, to honor Larry on the anniversary of his death I will share it again. And I will continue to share it for years to come because no matter how many years pass…

 I still can’t believe it really happened.

“God has mercifully ordered that the human brain works slowly; first the blow, hours afterwards the bruise.” ― Walter de la Mare

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 imposter, 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. 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 nine 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.

I pray you too will find a way.

Peace be with you in every step, Many Blessings,

 

Pam

Living with Stress

Stress

Is it me, or does it seem like EVERYONE is stressed?

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.

For the longest time it felt as though I was the only one stressed. I kept telling myself as I healed my levels of stress would decrease. Ha! Little did I know how stressful raising teenagers and being a sole proprietor could be.

Then I heard from friends and family members who shared their life challenges and the stress they live with daily.

Unfortunately, adults are not the only ones living with higher levels of stress. 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.

How can one eliminate stress?

Stress is subjective. One teen may come home crying that school is sooo stressful, while another teen will boast about loving school. We all have individual triggers of stress and different levels of tolerance of stress. What this means is that basically, there is no one size fits all remedy when it comes to coping with stress.

Realistically, we can’t eliminate stress, especially when stress is related to circumstances beyond our control.

Does that mean we should throw our hands up and pray for the best? Absolutely not! There are many coping mechanisms out there to help live with stress. 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?

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: valley fever, sinusitis, shingles, to name a few.

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
  • Reach out to friends and family for support
  • Try your hand at journaling
  • Incorporate meditation and/or prayer into your day
  • Take a bath with Epsom salt
  • Try homeopathic remedies
  • Follow a routine
  • Remember: be gentle on yourself and the time you need to heal!

Some of these I have covered previously, others I will be covering more in future blog posts.

Try and try again…

I mentioned above that there is no one size fits all remedy when it comes to coping with stress. The only advice I can give is to try one, a few, or all the coping techniques mentioned above. No matter what, please keep trying and know…

Most importantly, you are NOT alone!

I still have stress in my life. Honestly, I don’t think I will ever not have stress in my life. But I am committed to practicing various stress reducing techniques daily. Some days I must incorporate quite a few stress reducing techniques! That’s ok, I’m grateful for the ability to recognize when my stress levels are increasing and I’m grateful I have the tools to help me cope.

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

Many Blessings,

Pam