Oct 24, 2011

Waiting on the Lord -- Happily

My friend Beki just posted this on her blog. It really touched me for several reasons. One reason is because she and I both have had some really ridiculously uncommon health problems that doctors simply have not been able to explain. We both have gone to specialists (of both western medicine and alternative medicine camps) and have found some relief here and there, but no explanations and no permanent relief. As my health issues have been spiking lately, it is more on my mind, and reading about her own experiences has made me not only feel like I am not alone, but is a reminder that even people as wonderful and as faithful as Beki struggle with things that are way beyond our scope of understanding (which means there is hope for me yet!).

Another reason is because this has sort of been the theme of this weekend. I spent another Friday night and Saturday morning crying to my husband; another failed attempt at visiting family in Idaho because I was too sick; another week gone by feeling like I was an utter failure. When just a little over a year ago I was able to work a 12 hour day, go to the temple, pray for at least 1 hour, and get exercise in, these days I am lucky if I get my grading done for my University of Phoenix psychology students and also get a green smoothie made and consumed.

Anyway, honestly, I am tired of the psychosomatic illnesses on top of the real illnesses I already have. I am tired of the anxiety overwhelming me when I know better -- after all, how good of a therapist can I possibly be if I can't get my own anxieties under control? I cried to Dustin about how much this wasn't me; how the hopeless, sickly, pale woman sitting in the tub for the fourth time that day was not the woman I knew I was.

He lovingly told me I was everything to him, and that he understood that this behavior was not the real me. He gently reminded me to let go of the negativity; to be compassionate and patient with myself. He told me all the things I often tell my clients -- things I know to be true, but somehow, along the way, I have forgotten how to apply in my own life.

I took a long nap (and by long, I mean I slept most of the day). Later on Saturday evening Dustin suggested (again) that we watch 'The Secret'. While I understood its premise (after all, I am a big proponent of the Law of Attraction and use it in almost all my therapy) I just have had no desire to see it. I expected it to be overly secular and completely missing the mark when it came to Truth -- Truth as defined by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Boy was I wrong. Dustin knows me too well. He knows I'm a big-picture person, and I am positive that he knew how I would tie it in to gospel principles, psychological theories, and all the things I have already learned and gained a testimony of to be true.  It was like reading Widtsoe's "Rational Theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" and William Glasser's "Choice Theory" all in one, with a healthy dose of 2 Nephi and D&C 93 to boot. When it got to the part about asking the 'universe' for what we want (the universe, in my eyes, being Heavenly Father), and truly believing that we would receive -- believing to the point that we didn't just believe it but we felt it within our entire beings, my eyes opened real wide as I recalled the single scripture that I clung to through the entire Jimi/spiritual ordeal.

Mormon 9:21 reads:
Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.
"Well, duh, Michelle!" I thought to myself, and quickly turned to Dustin to share with him my latest big-picture discovery (something that he already knew, apparently!) It really WAS all about faith. Huh. So ok, it's not like I did not know that, but somehow, this more secularized description of what I already knew helped me to better understand this important theological truth. I was reminded of how Ketan and Henry had tried for several months last year to get me to understand the whole "Be still, and know that I am God" bit. The whole concept of concentrating on the negative; on what I didn't undertand or didn't have only made things worse. The whole bit on how faith actually worked - it really meant giving it all to Him -- to Christ -- and refusing to keep taking it back. Ketan's horse and carriage analogy came back to my mind. Henry's pleading with me to simply believe and accept God's will came back, too. And then I remembered how I had figured this out in small pieces before.

For example, the time when I realized I did not have to be skinny to be healthy and beautiful; and I had accepted myself and loved myself for who I was (which, of course, didn't last...but I had understood the concept for some time). Or how about the time when I tested the power of positive thinking and how that alone, along with the exercise and healthy eating regime I had started months earlier doubled my weight-loss? Or how about how I had manifested the things my heart really desired in the past - even things of a temporal nature? Or, most recent and most profoundly of all -- how I finally let go of trying to understand to my rational satisfaction why Heavenly Father had told me all the things He had, concerning my eternal companion, only to find out I had somehow been wrong? I gave up trying to understand how He was going to keep His promise to me. After Thanksgiving of last year, when I finally saw a picture of Jimi and his new bride, I just knew, somehow, that things were how they were supposed to be. I let go of that need to understand. I finally released all that pain, heartache, and control and gave it to Him. Then I became determined to have the best December I could have.

It was during that wonderful December that I met my husband. Shortly after it became clear that God had kept His promise all along; I simply had to learn to let go and let Him work.

So yeah. I've learned and applied this concept before. So what has been preventing me from doing it again? God has proven Himself time and time again to me. He is ever faithful, if I keep to my covenants & simply keep trying. So what if I can't see how He is going to take care of my health, when I am sitting here with no money and no health insurance and big issues that are affecting my very ability to get through a day? Can He (or the universe, as 'The Secret' calls Him) not make things work out? If I let go of the negativity and the constant worry about my health, perhaps, just perhaps, I will start to attract the things I do want, rather than keep attracting what I don't want by putting so much worry and energy into just that.

Cannot God help me with my financial crisis? Has He not been there previously? Have I not learned the Law of Attraction ('The Secret') by simply paying my tithing? Paying tithing is a positive act that demonstrates that very faith in Him and His promises. It demonstrates my willingness to believe; to think positively, and to move forward. Just because right now I don't know how I'm going to pay all the bills that are coming due in the next 2 weeks doesn't mean that I won't be able to. If I keep worrying and thinking about it negatively, though, I am going to manifest just that - overdue bills. But if I concentrate on what I want -- enough money to pay them -- trust in the Lord that He will help and provide -- I will find just that.

Life is meant to be enjoyed. Every person who has understood this 'Secret' has enjoyed or does enjoy his or her life. 2 Nephi 2:25 IS true:
Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
And...the enjoyment starts now. In the moment. That's the power of now, as Eckhart Tolle expressed in his famous book. 

I must admit that I love when I see so many truths come together as One. I love how these truths continue to support the Truth that I know is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I understand better how and why the gospel truly is the "good news". While trials and tribulations are an inevitable part of life, the more we are willing to see that they themselves do not have an independent, individual existence, and that it is only through giving our life energy TO those trials that give them, in fact, any power over us. If we understand this, we start to see life in a different light; we can see through our suffering instead of from it (Guy Finley, The Inside Story on Stress and Worry).

It's pretty darn exciting to see how much power we truly have; and to see how God designed the universe in the way that He did. God, or energy, cannot be created nor destroyed. Neither can we be, as we are energy.  D&C 93: 29-34 tells us:
29 Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.
30 All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.
31 Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light.
32 And every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation.
33 For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;
34 And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.
That is pretty dang sweet, isn't it? :) We have agency to choose joy. Truth has been manifested unto us in many ways, in many forms -- and those of us who choose to receive its light will find joy. It makes total sense how we, part of the elements, have to be inseparably connected for this whole concept to work -- for this whole idea that we can manifest joy ourselves; with the help of a loving Father in heaven.

Anyway. I love eureka moments like this. I have been sick again this weekend. But truths I once knew but forgot; truths that are restoring themselves again in my mind; and new truths that are becoming known unto me are telling me the same thing: I have agency. I can choose to be happy. God wants me to be happy - but He will never force it upon me. Through my faith; through my positive thinking - through ridding my mind of fear, doubt, and negativity, I can manifest anything I want (Mormon 9:21 -remember?) because He is already willing to give it to me!! The work that is necessary is to simply ask, listen and look for the answer, and receive!

Dustin and I watched a few more talks from General Conference that we missed at the time. These talks centered around this whole theme as well. Perhaps it might not be obvious to anyone who is reading this how everything I just said is linked, but that link is gloriously obvious to me. Hearing prophets of the Lord only confirm such things brings me a hope and peace that nothing else could. President Uchtdorf's (and my husband's) reminder to be patient and compassionate with myself was a seed to helping me discover, or rediscover truths that really aren't so secret after all.

In fact, these Truths are manifest around us everywhere. They are in everything. We simply have to look and see.

Oct 10, 2011


So it's 3:12 in the morning, and I can't sleep. Which means, of course, that I will sleep until well past noon tomorrow, which has become a horrid habit. My health is so screwed up right now and the thing is, I know the answers. I know how I should eat. I am seriously trying. I have been doing much better but my health is still out of whack, and it is frustrating. Without health insurance or money to even go to an endocrinologist to get my T4 levels checked (I have Hashimoto's thyroiditis), and being on my last refill of levothyroxine, I know what kind of bind I am in. This is one reason, despite not having any money, Dustin and I invested in the Vita-mix. I believe the things Dr. Robert Young explained in The pH Miracle - I know that the food we eat is toxic to our bodies and creates all disease. I know that negative thinking contributes to such as well; even more so (read Dr. Young's take on Acidic Emotions). I'm a psychotherapist (though one who only has 1-3 billable hours a week so far) and understand the importance of a healthy mental state. I am always talking about holistic health and how important it is to take care of our whole bodies, not just parts of it. This is one reason I'm not very fond of western medicine in general. It has failed me so many times, failed to diagnose problems I have suffered with for over 16 years; and even the levothyroxine has done nothing to eliminate my symptoms. All it has done is decreased my T4 levels. Whoopee.

I'm honestly trying to not feel sorry for myself. I am all about taking responsibility. I know my family and I were oblivious to the dangers of the typical American diet, even 20+ years ago when it was slightly better, but having to turn everything around and try to start a new lifestyle change (not just a diet) is HARD WORK. I certainly do not plan on giving up, but I have been at this off and on for the past 7 years and have seen only moderate changes. The little change isn't because what I have been doing doesn't work, but because it becomes so difficult for me to concentrate on everything (get exercise in, eat the right foods, deal with school/work/personal life stress, work on emotional stability, spirituality, etc.) that there have been too many times when I have had to slow down.

I am proud to say I have never completely given up hope. Even when I do not eat that well, I still am aware of what I eat and watch what I eat. The thing is, I'm not an overeater by any means. Both my husband and I have to be reminded to eat. And yes, yes I know that this can cause weight gain itself because the body may think it's in starvation mode. The thing is, with my body, even when I do eat more I still gain weight -- it doesn't seem to care how much or how little I am eating. So that leads me to WHAT I eat.

I still do better on that, even during my off times, than I used to. Having once been hypnotized to like vegetables I found some success in that. It came mostly with salads and little else, but hey -- I used to never touch a salad, period. That's progress, if even a little, right?

But anyway, back to the Wah Fest. Please excuse me if I am coming across as a whiner, but sometimes everything just gets so overwhelming that I need to let it out in some form or another. I definitely talk to my husband, and he is very much empathetic as he has suffered with his own severe health issues in the past, but he will never know the pain that comes from looking in the mirror and seeing all your hard work not pay off.  I wish I could say that it has paid off on the inside, but that would be a lie, too - because suddenly I am worse than I have ever been. I have a lot of symptoms, but if I could only lose the chronic fatigue I feel I could at least do something more about the rest.

Yeah, I know. Energy begets energy. I'm trying. I want to see a colon hydrotherapist again, as that has helped in the past, but guess what? No money. I would love to regularly use a Far-Infrared spa for sweat therapy, but again, no money. Heck, even buying all the vegetables and fruits that we have been buying lately costs so much more than the processed junk food that lines the aisles at the grocery store. Popping in a nutrition-less frozen meal is so much easier and cheaper than finding recipes that are palatable, delicious, and only incorporate whole foods, preferably green, leafy, alkaline vegetables.

So, here I am, telling myself over and over again to not feel sorry for myself. Yeah, things are tough, but I know I am still blessed beyond measure. The Lord has made sure of that. He has helped Dustin and I to find one another, and to have that love and support is something I yearned for and begged Him for for years. I have that. I have a roof over my head. I have a new career that will eventually take off. I have two legs and two arms and even if I'm not losing weight or gaining energy like I want, I have the ability to move and to keep trying. Most of all, I have agency to make the choices that I need to make in order to continue reaching for my goals, including my health goals. It doesn't matter how long it takes as long as I keep trying and do not give up.

Maybe I don't have the salary I used to make in my previous career. Maybe I don't have health insurance or good health, for that matter. Maybe I wish I had a full-time job doing what I love -- helping others help themselves. But I do have the opportunity to push myself to attain those goals, and that is definitely the best gift I could ever have.
P.S. If you want to learn more about our journey of eating healthier and finding delicious recipes, please read my other blog, It's Easy Being Green.

Oct 8, 2011

Sooo much has happened!

...and I don't have the time to get into it. But 1) I'm married, to the most amazing man in the world, Dustin Sanders. We were married on July 30th, 2011 in the Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah. We currently live in Bountiful, though we are looking for a house south of Salt Lake (halfway in-between our work places). Dustin is truly an answer to a 16 year long prayer! I've endured many hardships (many of which were described in this blog over the years, and many more that weren't) to get to the point where I was ready for him. But the time came, and now I am finally sealed to the man of my dreams:)

Dustin & I exiting the temple

A kiss for the crowd!
Shoving cake in each other's faces;)
My precious nieces (and flower girls), Lucy, Audrey & Isabel

My adorable ring bearer and nephew, Alex