Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Does the Body Ever Get Bored?

This is probably going to start off as one of the odder posts I’ve written, but sometimes I have these weird thoughts that stick in my brain.  It began after feeding the dogs this morning and wondering how a dog can eat the same thing every day for their entire life.  At least wild animals switch-up their diets, but at the hands of us humans, our domesticated friends may get a slight flavor change-up but the diet seems pretty steady…and if nothing else reliable.

This got me to begin wondering about our bodies.  If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic or life-altering illness does a flare mean the body is bored with the treatment?  My wondering about this issue is twofold.  I just coming out of a flare that I couldn’t describe and I have an appointment this afternoon with the doctor so I’m in my, “let’s examine this phenomenon” stage.  I guess I’m asking the same questions that scientists and pharmaceutical R&D teams around the world are asking and that is, “Why does a treatment stop working?”

It’s an important question and given the research on mind-body medicine, the mind-body connection, and the impact of emotions on our physical lives one that must be explored in-depth.  I was speaking with a client yesterday who is experiencing acid reflux and stomach spasms.  One of the key factors in her life is an enormous amount of stress.  The body will take over making decisions for your if you don’t listen and heed its warning.

While discussing her current circumstance we developed a way to off-set the impact that stress is having on her body.  There are two key ingredients, laughter and relaxation.   The laughter is important because of the hormones it releases, and the relaxation part is a no brainer.

The main concern in the relaxation piece is not finding time to meditate or breathe, but creating a multi-sensory experience.  It’s not enough just to rest, but combine some type of relaxation/breathing with soothing sounds, in her case a warm heating pad placed on her stomach to relax the spasms, a candle that is appealing but not overpowering and other sensory stimulations that add to the experience.

We’re multi-sensory beings and our responses need to take that into consideration.  It emphasizes the fact that we’re multi-faceted and one solution often is not the cure-all, but it is often a good start.  Be inclusive when developing stress busting regimens and remember that stress has a huge negative impact on the immune system.  Give yourself every opportunity on the road to health and healing; it will also keep the body from becoming bored.

Posted in art and healing, creativity and health

Life As A Canvas

Welcome to the first Art and Health Wednesday…

I didn’t start life out as an artist, I mean I didn’t intend to be an artist although the arts were always included as a part of my life.  I started as a young musician.  My first instrument at the age of 9 was the bass fiddle.  Believe it or not, little me was playing the bass fiddle.  As I got older I moved into the choir and spent the rest of my middle school, high school, and college years singing in the choir.  When applying to college my intended major was music therapy but there were only six school in the country offering a program at the time and I didn’t have the theory skills to make it as a music major.

Over time I became a quilter.  I love the tactile experience and was making quilts that were contemporary in nature, but not artistic.  I became an okay technician and then I found a group of art quilters.  My work and my life changed because for the first time I was going to create works that spoke of my life experience and from my soul.  It allowed me to be unconventional (which I am) while telling great stories.  I had found a tribe that would not only mentor me, but educate and support my endeavors.

Where is all this going?  I found my voice and for those facing a chronic or life-altering illness you may feel as if your voice is being drowned out.  I say, change how you use your voice and art is a sure way to be seen and heard.  I’m not talking about art therapy, although I do believe it has its purpose and place.  I’m talking about the raw nature of creating something unique that’s your and yours alone.  Something that is the ultimate self-expression of your experience.

It’s amazing what happens when you see your story in a new context.  I have friends who have battled illness and danced their way to health and healing.  Others I have met along the way use poetry, sculpture, yes even music to discard the unwanted emotional and spiritual baggage and create a new world view.

Your work doesn’t need to hang in galleries or museums; it needs to hang in your heart.  Don’t waste any time, go out and begin creating an original work of art that is your contribution to the ongoing dialogue of health and healing.