Dance Like Everyone’s Watching

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Dancing is probably one of the most therapeutic things I’ve ever done, or singing, or both! The day after I got the news that my treatment wasn’t happening after all though I had looked forward to being pain and disease free, it all came crashing down. I felt the familiar depression and despair grabbing ahold of me, telling me all the lies that I’ve fought so long.

You’ll never be well. It’s hopeless. You’ll only get worse.

All lies.

It used to be that when I felt down I’d put on sad music and cry with it. Nowadays, I put on my happiest most encouraging worship songs. I fling embarrassment to the side and I dance, I sing at the top of my lungs and have an all-out good time.

Normally they say dance like no one’s watching, but my motto is dance like everyone’s watching. Because they are. Whether I’m at home or out and about dancing my way through the stores to keep myself in a positive frame of mind, occasionally I’m approached by people who tell me how positive I am, how good it is to see someone so happy. They also tell me they wish they could be so happy, no matter what.

Well, I’m here to tell you, I haven’t got it easy. No one does, I have to choose to try to look on the brightest side every day. I still cry, and if people could see into the darkness of my mind some days I’m sure they’d be more than a little concerned. But instead, I dance, I laugh and I think about all the positive things in my life.

When I found out once again that I wasn’t going to be all better, something shifted inside of me, what if I’m never better? It was a panicked thought at first, but as it started to settle I realized just as I tackled college without waiting to better, I shouldn’t be waiting to be “better” to be and do everything that I have in mind.

It’s just another chance to rebuild myself and one day it will just be added to the stories I can tell of how I managed to overcome. So, if you’re having a bad day, loosen up a bit. Put on your favorite song, stand up and dance around and sing at the top of your lungs. (If you get weird looks from anyone around you and they know the song, they should be singing too!)

Dance like everyone’s watching, because they are. And I bet they could use a little brightening up of their day too.

Need a bouncy song to get you started? I’ve got you covered:

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Pemphigus, Rituxan and Myalgia

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A funny thing happened, well only funny now in hindsight. My dermatologist immediately in January said we were going to hit the pemphigus aggressively with another treatment of Rituxan. The paperwork went through, blood work, but my insurance denied it.

My rheumatologist said the treatment would take care of all the pain I’ve been experiencing, so I got a new insurance and was practically dancing in the streets. I went back to my dermatologist for another blood test this past Tuesday, instead of a blood test he just said it was off, no treatment. It was just too aggressive.

I think I took it as well as anyone would have taken it who has gone through pain for years on end, almost seven years for me, only to be told that this was the year that everything would be gone with one more treatment. Only to find out, it wasn’t going to happen, he wasn’t even going to try.

I cried for hours.

I had never been so close to a breakthrough and I had never believed it so much. Sure, doctors have been telling me for ages they’ve got it all figured out and it was going to be better, but this time, I believed them.

His reaction was strange to me and when I tried to tell him how bad the pain was, he just blew me off and went to the next patient. It wasn’t his problem after all. I did a lot more research on Rituxan when I got home, I know that the treatment is dangerous. Whenever death is listed as a “side effect” you know you’re dealing with something serious.

The first time I got the treatment was the end of 2013, I had two treatments of it and was able to come off the immunosuppressants. I was scared of it, of course. A patient before me had just died from it, but I was so desperate to beat the pemphigus that I clung to my hope in God and went through with it anyway. After that, my body was extremely weak and I didn’t put two and two together at the time, but when I went back to work in 2014 the pain went into overdrive and it ended with me hardly being able to walk.

The more I looked around and saw how other people with pemphigus reacted to the Rituxan, I realized a lot of us ended up with myalgia. It’s not listed in one of the side effects, and it could be just because of the pemphigus and Rituxan mixing, I don’t know. I’m definitely not a doctor, but I think this is something serious that anyone looking at the Rituxan (Rituximab) treatment should definitely be aware of.

The moral of the story:

 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in humans. Psalm 118:8 (NIV)

People will let you down, it’s bound to happen. They’re only human after all. Being in pain for this long of a time, I’ve seen the cycle repeated time and time again. It hurt especially coming from my dermatologist because I’ve been going to him for at least 3 years.

I can tell you that through it all God has always been there for me. Every major breakthrough in my illness had the handprint of God on it, there was never any medication or treatment that saved my life, whenever my life had been in danger from this disease I took refuge in God, the one who created me.

I’m still not sure where to go from here, I’ve been working harder than ever at my physical therapy. I’ve researched food that contain natural pain relievers and I’ve told myself daily, it’s going to be okay.

Yeah, I’m not going to be perfectly well like I thought I would be. But I can still better myself, I can make my body stronger and one day maybe the pain will be gone for good. For now, I’m just happy for another day to try.

How to Overcome Writer’s Block

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My writer’s block is actually just procrastination in a fancier form. Even though I feel better mentally after I write, the act of starting to write takes FOREVER! A lot of writers have this problem as well, so I decided to share what helps me to write when I feel like I’ve got absolutely nothing.

Just write. I know we hear this advice a lot, but it has changed my life. Even when you don’t know what on earth you could possibly write, just write it out. Maybe it won’t even make sense, maybe it will. Focus on writing frequently, no matter how you feel at the time, you can then make a healthy habit of continuing to write.

Set a time for writing and a time for distractions. For example, often when it’s time for me to write I’m all over social media. I find myself getting lost into YouTube videos I’m not even amused by. If distractions hold you up a lot, give yourself time for them, but not during your writing time! I usually take breaks after 15 minutes to a half an hour depending on how much I can get done during that time.

Have other projects. No matter what I do, usually when I’m about midway through a book I get burnout. I don’t write in it at all, I’m sick of it and I want to erase the whole thing and start over. Do not follow my crazy thinking. Having other projects on the side helps me not to obsess over a story or a novel that I just need a break from, I try to have a short story and a novel in progress at least. I’m very overactive and I love multi-tasking so I may have two novels and a short story going and I jump around from story to story depending on how the mood strikes me.

Find your ideal writing time. My best writing time is in the morning. It doesn’t mean I’m any more motivated to write then, but once I get in the flow early in the morning, it just keeps going. I can write until my fingers hurt and I need a break. I lose track of time and everything else and just let it go.

I know as writers we can easily get caught up in trying to make everything perfect, or working hard to make a career out of it, but let’s not forget the best part of writing. Love what you do and enjoy it!

4 Easy Ways to Beat Your Bad Food Cravings

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Now, no food is necessarily bad, as long as you eat it in moderation. However, it’s often the moderation part that trips people up. So if you’re struggling with a food that goes beyond moderate helpings, here are some tips to help you out!

  1. Starve it

The best way that works for me is to go cold turkey on whatever is giving me the most trouble. In particular, chocolate always causes me to binge eat, I could never get enough of it. So I just gave it up completely. Not only does this help it to get out of your system, even though it may take a while, but it also helps to teach yourself self-control. It is okay to tell yourself “no” when you want something.

  1. Eat Regularly

For me, my weakest moments are when I’ve forgotten to eat and feel famished. I have to grab something, ANYTHING! In comes the junk food or overly processed food that I definitely don’t need. But by cooking ahead and planning out my meals instead of leaving it to random chance, I’m less at risk of giving in.

  1. Eat things you like

Don’t take away everything that you like to eat at once or you’ll be more likely to revert back to old ways. Remember, the best change for your health is to change your lifestyle and not just make it a quick diet. Everything is okay to eat, in moderation. As long as you have control over it, go for it! If a healthy recipe doesn’t taste right to you, alter it! Play around with seasonings and experiment until you like it.

  1. Make Replacements

I love potato chips, I probably always will. But what I really love is the texture of them, that satisfying crunch! You know what else gives me that crunch? Granola, and it’s a lot healthier for me too. I also eat less granola when I snack on it and I’m happier. If you have a sweet tooth, get more fruit. And go beyond the basic fruits, try out something different. For me, pomegranates are a huge treat.

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Most importantly, if your cravings still continue it may be that your body does have a need for something. So make sure that you are eating well-rounded meals and that you’re getting enough vitamins every day.

What I Learned From Failure

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I’m afraid of a lot of things, but I believe failure has always been my biggest fear. It’s funny because I could have nightmares of creepy little girls killing people gorily in mansions and chasing me without moving, but the scariest nightmares were of me failing an actual event in real life. And no, I don’t watch horror movies.

Failure has always loomed over me, as the thing that I wanted to avoid the most. So, I always played it safe. I focused on a few things that I knew with hard work I could just accomplish. I’m an overachiever and a perfectionist. I was the one carrying group projects to glory just so my grade would be perfect. But then, what happens when we actually experience failure?

The first thing to know is that, just because you might fail at something, it does not turn you into a failure.

That was mind blowing to me. That I could fail, but I was still myself, the world still kept on turning. I was traumatized over failure, I always have been. But this time it was different, this time I thought to myself, what could I accomplish, if I didn’t let the fear of failure hold me back?

My writing took a drastically different turn, I started writing with pure abandon and not questioning myself (which led to me entering a writing contest!) I started trying to learn animation with Autodesk Maya on my own again. But what if, I realized, what if the failure that I fear so badly has been the thing holding me back from my full potential? What if, all the self-criticism had me bound and wouldn’t let me progress where I need to go? What if fear, was my only true weakness?

Now it’s true, I’m not the greatest at everything. Especially not the things that I want to do with my life, but that just means I have to work harder. I have to want it more, I have to go after it with all the strength that I do have. This also requires me to learn to let go of what I have no control over, so I can put my effort towards what I can do.

Because at the end of the day, I’d rather have a long list of things that I failed at in trying to get better, instead of a long list of regrets for never even trying.

What are some things that fear has been holding you back from accomplishing? Let me know in the comments, if you’ve already overcome your fear, let me know about that too! We’re all in this together.

My First Public Writing

So I debated over this a TON. I’m very close with my writing. So close that I quietly write books with no intention of sharing most of them until I get better at writing. However, I decided in the meantime it was about time I start putting some of my writing out there, so here it is! I entered a fantasy writing contest (it’s totally free by the way if anyone else would like to join) and posted my complete fantasy story there. I’d appreciate a vote from you all, as only the top 10% of the voted will be judged. Every single vote counts! I’m so nervous about sharing things with the world, but I can’t write in the dark forever, right?

Check out my story here: My Real Imaginary Love

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Faith and Works

faith and worksMy mind is ultimately the greatest battle that I face daily. It can shred me to pieces if I allow it. Or it can build me up and give me the strength that I need to keep on smiling and encouraging others. There are times when even with all that I have learned about focusing on taking care of myself and depending on God, that the thoughts of what can I do? Still flood my mind.

I’ve been doing physical therapy over a month now, sometimes it goes so slow it’s frustrating. At times I feel like I’m going backwards, my knees have improved but everything else still hurts and my back hurts even worse than it did before. But then there’s the topic of money, sometimes I spend so much time worrying about where it’s going to come from next or how I’m going to make it. I spent half a day worrying about something I had no control over when it resolved itself, without me doing anything.

Although at the time I was freaking out and looking at culinary jobs (knowing I would only make myself 100 times worse), all I really needed to do was be patient. That’s the hardest thing for me to do at this point of my life.

I keep putting things in God’s hands and then pulling it back out to see if I can do something with it in the meantime. I still try to reanalyze and figure out the balance of faith and works, but here’s what I have realized:

Work as hard as possible on what God has given you to do.

Don’t overstep into the things that God is already working on, just do what you can with the strength that you can. There are things that we can’t force to work, but we simply have to believe, have faith and pray continuously.

God is infinitely bigger than whatever we go through, although at times doubt may flood our minds even when we are following along doing the things that we are supposed to be doing, it is okay. It’s up to us to push it back down, to take control of our mind and thoughts and let them know that there is a plan. That we will overcome.