I am a Maker

Like my Creator I too have been given the blessing of being able to create. I have been given hands that can hold my instruments, and a mind that can see things that are not yet there. I have seen beauty beget beauty and deep searing pain beget beauty. I have seen that which seems impossible and made it so. I make words work together. I make small beautiful things to adorn people and places.

I work on my artistry and craft for the same reason I write here…for therapy. Every piece has held, helped, and healed a moment in my life that was joyful or painful. Each piece I have crafted is a monument to my desire to make beautiful things as I have been made into a beautiful thing. To remind others that though they adorn their homes and themselves with my work, they have been adorned with a souls, crafted by the greatest hands of an Almighty Craftsman.

I work to remind the world, that if you want beautiful things you must…absolutely must….stop starving the artists.

Below is a collection of some of my small adornments. They are a combination of metals and natural materials. If you’d like to see more you’re welcome to visit my business Facebook page.

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Cucumber Strawberry Smoothie

A quick little low carb and calorie recipe for a smoothie I made the other night.

1 sliced up cucumber

1 bag of frozen organic strawberries

2 cups strawberry low fat yogurt OR 1 banana and 1 cup Orange juice

Blend in a blender or food processor. Keep refrigerated. Done.

It also tastes really good spiked with coconut rum, tequila, or vodka.

Sage Leaves and Dirt

When was the last time my feet had touched the ground? Like, the real ground? Dirt? It had been two weeks at least. Maybe three. So I wandered out to the garden, barefooted and spirit trapped within its own internal war, but he moment my feet hit the grass I felt all that stress and anxiety release. There was sage for picking in the garden. I would start there.

I did not start at the sage, but rather in a desperate moment of anxiety I laid on the grass and stared at the sky for a while. Why? Because I wanted to be reminded that I was so small in so vast of a world. That problems of mine were just as fleeting as my own life, and would soon drift away as time passed. That feelings were just feelings, no matter how strong they are, and that they too could fail me just as my own body could.

I needed to be reminded that I was finite. That a hundred years from now it is unlikely that I will continue to exists in the physical world, and all my emotions and problems would too.

I found comfort in this. As I laid on the ground staring into the sky, watching the clouds change from gold, to pink and purple hues, I found comfort in knowing the sun would also set on my stress, my sorrows, my anxieties, and my whole life. Maybe not today, but one day. I let that comfort wrap around me as the sky deepened in its blue.

I picked my sage and smelled it as I walked back to the stone steps of my tiny porch. Putting a soft leaf in my mouth to chew, I took my last deep breath of fresh air before entering and closing the door. Who knew I could feel so much better with just sage leaves and dirt?

Earthing

It’s like everything runs into the earth when I lay on it. All the worry. All the pain. All the anxiety. Just laying in the grass, with the sunshine warming my skin and hearing the life happen around me. The breeze caresses my face and plays with my hair. It’s the most calm I have felt all week.

My husband and I are trying “Earthing” or “Grounding” as it is also known as. A friend of mine had mentioned it to me as something that assisted with cysts she had in her uterus and was desperate to keep this particular child after having miscarried 5 others before. She tried it for the entire first trimester, every night all night while she slept. Her cysts reduced in size as much as 60% according to her doctor. I figured even if my issues were not the same as hers, I would give it a try too.

I started by walking around in my yard with my shoes off more frequently, and while I did feel really great, I didn’t want to attribute that completely to the Earthing, since I can be a bit of a skeptic. It could have been the sunshine and increase in Vitamin D. It could have been the movement since I was so used to an office job. Still I noticed that chronic swelling in my hands seemed to experience relief when I would go outside, and I would notice the swelling to return when I got inside or stood on the sidewalk. So I started looking into Earthing methods a little more.

My husband and I watched several documentaries and TED Talks about the nutrients of the ground, the electromagnetic fields of the earth, and the bodily responses to natural stimuli and phenomenon. Not all of them were necessarily related to one another, but all of them were worth researching and helped us figure out a bit of the claimed science behind Earthing. My research was more based on understanding the medical uses of earthing for physical illness, because to be completely honest, I do not find myself buying into the metaphysical sort of stuff that everyone seems to lean towards in these scenarios.

After I was satisfied with the findings, I figured it couldn’t hurt us to try, so I found an inexpensive indoor earthing kit and figured if it didn’t seem to improve anything or feel like it was helping, I could probably get my money back by selling it on eBay or something. So the day it arrived we went to bed with it. Here are the things we noticed:

1) My husband who has snored every night since we got married, stopped snoring and does not snore every night he uses his earthing band.

2) I woke up with blood sugars in normal range for the first time in years and continue to do so since using the earthing band.

3) My husband has noticed an improvement in mood.

4) Chronic swelling in my hands is gone and has not returned.

5) I’m not waking up as tired.

6) I’m not sleeping as lightly.

7) I’m less depressed and more motivated.

I suppose that all of this could just be a placebo affect, but it could be real too. All I know is I’m doing and feeling better. Even my husband has noticed his mood and anxiety improve. So we’re starting to take it a little more seriously now and are starting to tell our friends and family about it. All in all, I hope to see more results as time goes on.

A Really Bad Dr. Visit

“So, I noticed you’re getting fat…”

Really? You couldn’t have said it nicer? You’re a medical physician. A specialist. Yes, I’ve gained weight, but seriously, 150 lbs is not that bad a weight for someone 5’4″ much less a diabetic who has only been skinny because of bad blood sugars for so long. I finally get healthy. I finally get on track. I finally have lower blood sugars and am eating right. Exercising for 30 min to an hour every day, and for what? You to sit in your white coat and crudely call me fat.

This is like, my worst nightmare and it happened only last week when I went to the doctor. I had gotten my blood sugars down for the first time in ages, and finally was food logging, exercising, and doing all kinds of stuff that I ought to be doing…only to have it once again not be enough. When we got home from my appointment I cried to my husband. I made false promises and threats never to eat again (I love food so we all knew it was a lie), and I walked, oh did I walk that night. An angry four mile walk where with every step I cussed out my doctor in my own head. Furiously. Violently.

I had worked so hard to get better, only to get the mixed message that I had gotten worse.

Insulin is not a cure to diabetes. Insulin, at least the more you take it, makes you fat. The fatter you get….the more insulin resistance you build, which means over time your body may not react to insulin anymore if you take too much. The fatter you get the more diabetic complications you can have too…all caused by taking insulin, the very hormone that is supposed to save your life.

Then they tell you, if the high blood sugars don’t kill your organs, being overweight will. So either way you lose.

Oh yeah, eat healthy and exercise right? That’s the cure! So many people talk about diet and exercise like it’s such an easy fix, but really the food industry makes even healthy living hard.

Insulin is like slapping a bandaid on the real problems. Like how healthy and low carb food costs so much money. How medical companies are afraid of us getting better because a healthy nation means they don’t make money. How most foods in the grocery store at all ever, are practically indigestible for the human body, have little to no nutritional value, and causes people to gain weight with high sugar, carb, and cholesterol content. The lack of fiber and protein content. Oh and don’t get me started on artificial sweaters (which also cause weight gain, cancer, and plenty of other issues). All things that cause so many health issues and weight problems in the US, and no one does anything about them.

I eat as low carb as I can in this kind of environment, increasing my proteins and vegetable intake considerably, and even use meal replacement protein shakes with less than a gram of carbohydrates in them (they taste like slightly sweetened chalk water with a touch of sadness, but I still drink them). Last week I managed to get to the store and get myself organic lettuce, organic peanut butter, organic frozen fruit (3 kinds), vanilla yoghurt, strawberry yoghurt, organic chicken breasts, and 5 varieties of organic and nonorganic fruit. It cost me just shy of $100. For so few items. Most of which were on sale. Then I made my husband Jumbalya, and couldn’t eat any of it….the struggle was so real.

Exercise then. Am I right? Surely that’s the cure!

I’ve exercised for 30 min to an hour every night for the last several months. No less than 30 min daily. Either a walk, a bike ride on my recumbent in the basement or outdoors, and playing Racquet Ball once a week for an hour every week with my coworker. Like, really high impact.

So what is a girl to do? How do I get healthy and lose weight as a type one diabetic? I’m considering eating some kind of parasitic worm at this point because I just freaking give up!

Age Spot

At first I had thought it was a smudge of something on my hand, but upon several attempts to wash it off and a moment of staring stupidly at its resilience, I realized what it really was.

It was an age spot. My very first age spot.

It’s a very faint light brown color, just like my mothers had started, and of course on the very same hand, just like her mother before her. I recalled when I first noticed my mothers hands changing and I recalled how my grandmothers hands changed too from my mothers account. Now it’s my turn and I’ve got it where they all seemed to have theirs start. Dead center on my left hand…only a faint shade of discoloration and half the size of a dime. Kinda shaped like the silhouette of that famous image of the Lochness monster.

It’s strange to think about getting age spots, since I’m only 27. Still, it isn’t a surprise either. I’ve been fortunate enough to have clear skin, few breakouts, and decent coloration most of my life and I’m sure it has run its course by now. My health isn’t all it could be. Diabetes is no laughing matter and has a habit of taking its toll on skin. It was only a matter of time before they would form. My grandmother’s started around the time she turned 35. My mother in her 30s. Both of them started out this way, on this hand, in a very faint shade of brown. My grandmothers had turned very dark blackish brown when she turned 60 which sent her to consult a physician only to find out it was nothing more than an ugly colored age spot. My mothers darkened, but not unattractively, when she turned 55 and has not changed much since. I only hope to be so lucky.

The reality of growing old strikes unexpectedly, and as I look in the mirror I find I haven’t really noticed my aging ever, and other than this age spot, I still don’t. I still have a very childlike round face and big eyes. My skin is still fair. My hair is still curly as ever and still it’s same color. Not much feels like it has changed, and yet emotionally I’m reminded that I am so much older than I once was. I know so much more. I’ve experienced so much more. I have witnessed so much more.

And there is still so much more to do.

Panic Attacks and Long Drives

I was never this way before. I didn’t start having panic attacks until I was in college. Ever since then I feel like I’ve had them regularly for a few years. Medications don’t seem to help. In fact they make me lose my appetite with the knot it puts in my stomach. Then the shaky feeling that feels like a low blood sugar. Which as a diabetic can be super distracting when I constantly feel like I’m dying.

Last night was no exception. When I was thinking about having to drive through Milwaukee and Chicago to visit family in Michigan, I had yet another panic attack. When my husband came home from work around 11pm he asked me why I looked like I had been crying and all I could do was express how much I hated driving and how I had a bad emotional reaction to thinking about it. He said nothing of course. What can he say? He hates driving just as much as I do. Still, I wish he would at least try. Mainly because I feel like if he only tried, he’d realize that it is possible. He can do it. Just like I can do it even in my deep dislike of driving and my fear of driving in large cities.

It really isn’t that bad once you do it. That’s what I have to keep telling myself. Most of it is pretty normal interstate driving. Yes there are lots of cars and lane switches. Yes there can be bumper to bumper traffic and all you have to do is breath and keep driving. In the moment of driving I’m too focused on driving to be concerned with anything else, including the fear of driving.

I still have to be careful with all these assumptions. Mainly because just because that is my experience, that doesn’t mean it’ll be his. I just wish I knew how to encourage him.

The Golden Rule

“Do you ever have moments where you feel like your perspective of faith inhibits you from taking care of yourself?”

“I can’t say that I have. Why do you?” He responded groggily and slightly muffled by his pillow as he laid in bed next to me. I had been laying awake for a good long while coming painfully slowly to a personal realization.

“Yes, I do.”

“How so?”

I began explaining it in a jumbled and partially incoherent stream of thought. But the basics of it came down to this: I spent so much of my life focusing on the self sacrifice of my faith, that I had become toxic in it, and often gave up things that were healthy habits for me to continue, because I felt like they were things I could give up in order to practice self sacrifice and take care of other things or because I thought it was selfish of me to take care of myself.

For a real life example, when I got married, my husband and I began contributing to a joint account while also holding on to our own personal bank accounts so that we could build a fund together to pay for joint expenses like insurance and groceries, but still have our own money to make purchases for ourselves without needing to talk it over. Of course, I contribute quite a bit to it so that we can build a better savings, but in doing so I had to give up purchasing vitamins and lotion to take care of common diabetic issues I deal with frequently. I felt like these were things I didn’t need, but rather could do okay without. After having stopped taking my vitamins, I began to see a decline in my health, both emotionally and physically. I stopped taking my St Johns Wort, which I used to help my mood when depression was getting bad. I stopped taking a couple vitamins I used for my blood sugar regulation, and my blood sugars got higher. I stopped taking my vitamin for my kidneys and sure enough….my kidney function went down when I got them checked soon after.

Of course, I spoke to my husband about it when I began to notice the severity of the changes, and I decidedly began taking vitamins again and contributing less to the joint account to do so, but it had been a choice made in my Christian faith to contribute so much to my household financially while also allowing me to practice a form of self sacrifice and self control.

What I hadn’t understood was how backward I had it. Self sacrifice doesn’t mean giving up your health in the name of faith. It was actually the opposite. To “love your neighbor as yourself” there had to be a little love of self in there to fully understand how that works.

The more I think of it, the more I realize I had done this for relationships too. I had practiced giving myself to people by offering them my time, only to have them use me to the point of abuse. I recall a former friend ho was very toxic, controlling, and destructive. Still, I held onto a relationship with this person because I had the perspective that I was to love people no matter what, and that’s what I as asked to do out of love, stick with this person and allow the abuse. Allow the hostilities to constantly come back and hurt my feelings, because that was love and I was being forgiving.

No it isn’t and no I wasn’t.

I understand now that love can be at a distance. I wasn’t being a good loving friend by enabling their toxicity. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that everything they did to me was okay, it just gave me a means of moving on from what they did to harm me and taught me to accept an apology I was never given. I was not obligated to stay friends with them if they were becoming harmful. So I forgave them and never spoke to them again.

The more I think about it the more I’m beginning to realize that much of what I thought was selfish or at some point in my life was told was selfish of me….is actually what my faith asks me to do. It’s to be joyful and have love for myself and to take good care of myself. To invest in the things that help me to be a better person and to keep me healthy so that I can take care of others, is actually just being responsible for what I have been given in life, which is exactly what Christians are called to do.

Where the mistake often gets made is the act of overindulgence. Things that are not absolute necessities to live are what we can self sacrifice and have self control in. We are asked to take care of that which we have chosen to be responsible for or are called to be responsible for. Our responsibilities and priorities to God, ourselves and our family are what ought to be our focus. For me, my health affects a huge part of my life. If I am not doing all I can to remain healthy, I cannot take care of my husband who I promised Before God that I would take care of. If I am not healthy, I cannot take care of my home because I will not have the energy to do so. If I am not healthy, my actions are not going to be in alignment with God’s commands and I will not be in an emotional place to be kind, caring, and loving. My health holds a lot weight in my faith, and by sacrificing my health, I have found that my faith hasn’t been health either.

I can’t believe in all my years of being a follower of Christ that this had never occurred to me, but I realize more and more that so many people of faith have this backwards too. Probably the same people who lead me to this impression of sacrificing health as a means of self sacrifice, were probably told the same thing by another toxic person before them and so on, to the point that it just became a cultural norm.

Well the toxicity of my culture stops here, and it’s time to learn a little more self love.