Romantic relationships can often feel like the spiritual olympics. Right? Just us? Doubtful.
Being in love is hard; dating is hard; commitment is hard; marriage is hard—each step seems harder than the last. Vulnerability can feel like a torturous slow pull of a band aid from the heart, opening up all of our old wounds, bleeding out for our significant other to see. And that's with a strong libido, bustling energy, and no physical pain. Add the emotional and physical layers that illness creates and we have a challenge comparable to competing in the olympics while on loads of xanax—it's seemingly impossible.
We knew when we started Wellness Companions that we would have to offer a service catering to romantic relationships— "how-to-partner while you're sick" kind of thing. Both Eva and I, Jackie, have been in successful, fulfilling, relationships under the thumb of illness. Let us bring you hope—it's possible! And SO badass. This Valentines Day, we are offering a special 50% off discount for our hour- long "Navigating Romance" service. We will pass on to you the skill set we used to remain in thriving relationships while also being bogged down by illness.
Book direct within the next week or at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll see you soon :)
Big Valentine's Love XO
If you're anything like us, you've had a busy few days (or months) reading the news, making phone calls, sending letters, donating money, updating your Facebook status with yet another infuriating detail, and maybe even taking part in some spirited political debate. If this sounds like you then we have to ask: How are you feeling at the end of the day? Stressed? cross-eyed with anxiety? Are you experiencing any negative physical side-effects—less sleep, a stiff neck, lots of fatigue? It's important to be involved right now. It's important to have a voice and to fight to be heard. But it's still more important to take care of yourself—no matter how grave it gets in D.C, there's always time for an epsom salt bath. So, how do we balance? How do we remain involved in the revolution while also staying sane, healthy and—dare we say it— at peace within ourselves?
-Think one action a day. If you're an over-doer then this is especially for you: One action a day is enough. Make one phone call, donate 1$ to one cause, write one email to your chosen representative, or do something for the environment and plant a tree. Same for the news: read it, but read it once a day. Pick a time of day to read the news and take your one action and spend the rest of your time invested in your big, sparkly life and gorgeous spirit. There's no need to overwhelm ourselves in an effort to save the country—we need you and we need you healthy and energized!
-There's never been a better time to put "airplane mode" to use. Take breaks. Breaks from social media, breaks from your email, and breaks from text messages. If you can't fathom separating from your phone during the day then give yourself a cut-off time at night (i.e nine PM the phone goes into airplane mode and doesn't get looked at until the next morning).
-During this time, things may start to feel dark for you if they don't already. Up your gratitude list practice to once or twice daily. Same goes for meditation. Find more times to sit still and meditate for five minutes at a time.
-Don't forget to eat. Eat your three balanced meals a day. Drink enough water, and maybe consider switching over to herbal tea to calm the nerves every once in awhile.
-Stay active in what brings you joy! Now more than ever we need you to create your art. Meryl Streep just quoted Carrie Fisher during her speech at the Golden Globes saying, "take your broken heart and turn it into art." Pour your energy into your writing, dancing, singing, photographing, drawing, knitting, cooking or whatever might light you up and enhance your spirit.
And, more than anything, stay in TODAY.
We know it's the most festive time of year, chock full of colorful treats, intoxicating beverages, and tempting long nights. All of that is good and fun; fun and wellness are NOT mutually exclusive. Not. At. All. We endorse merriment of all kinds. So throw snowballs, bake cookies, "cheers" with egg nog, and slightly over do it with family activities! But let us remind you that it's not really worth it to have fun this week at the risk of ruining the next month. Right? It can also be a time when we worry about "missing out." Sometimes, it can feel like our ailments hold us back from all of the wicked sugar- rush- fun we can be having, but believe us, there's PLENTY of fun to go around, and taking little self-care breaks will only enhance your holiday experience.
Since we have learned our lessons the hard way, we'd like to share some simple tips with you to keep you balanced during this batty time:
-Sneak away when everyone is going for a winter stroll and get in ten minutes of meditation instead (don't worry— you won't miss anything ground- breaking.).
-Get those 7-8 hours of sleep no matter what! Go to bed slightly earlier (or wake up a little later) than everyone else. It's OK. Remember: YOU are the priority.
-Every once in a while, opt for herbal tea or warm lemon water instead of that coffee with Baileys or that glass of wine.
-At dinner, when the salad bowl comes around be sure to load up on the greens. Sure, eat the bread too (if you must) just grab veggies and fruit everyday too! Instead of dessert EVERY DAY, pick one (or two) special occasions to eat pounds of sugar (or ounces). Maybe you'll opt for cake on Christmas and New Years Eve. One or two fun cheats is better than a week of candy. Your body will thank you for it.
-Travel with your supplements! And stay on top of taking them, even if you're on "vacation"
-Begin each morning with a little prayer, gratitude list or morning meditation to keep you spiritually grounded and calm. The last thing your body needs is extra stress!
-Stay warm! Wear your favorite sweatshirt and your warmest boots. You're not here to impress, you're here to be cozy and a healthy thriving person. So find a warm sweater that you also feel awesome in and wear it instead of that slinky silk top that makes you look AMAZING but also makes you shiver.
-And maybe...MAYBE...you can do without political discussion at the dinner table this year. It will ease digestion.
Happy holidays, our wellness buddies. We can't wait to hear how you stay balanced this year.
In other words: Happy Thanksgiving! Today is notorious for face-stuffing, family-seeing, wine drinking, and chilly weather. If you're lucky—before everyone goes to town on too much food—someone remembers to announce the "lets go around the table and say what we're grateful for" game. After all, it is THANKSgiving, right? It's why I personally love this holiday—a whole day to focus on gratitude.
Maybe because gratitude is something that has saved my ass multiple times in the midst of chronic illness.
Maybe it's because, for me, gratitude feels like the light IN the tunnel—not at the end of it.
Maybe it's because gratitude gives me a balanced view of reality when my brain can only see darkness.
Maybe it's because I like things that make me feel better—gratitude works, AND it's free.
As a person healing from chronic illness, gratitude has been indispensable.
We highly suggest that you don't just reflect on your gratefuls today but that you make it a consistent practice. Here are some simple things you can do:
-Write daily lists. Just five things. It takes 30 seconds. I'll do a sample here:
- I'm grateful for my mobility. I can walk, and spin and jump and use my hands
- I'm grateful for plenty of clean water whenever I want or need it
- I'm grateful for all of my healthy food options
- I'm grateful that I live in a safe place
- I'm grateful for morning coffee
- Start a gratitude email chain with other people you love! It's a fun way to build community and friendship AND thankfuls
-In meditation, when your mind starts wondering, list things you're grateful for instead of thinking about the dishes.
-Speak gratitude aloud when you're in the car with traffic!
-And, today, play that ol' "what are you grateful for?" before dinner!
Have a wonderful, healthy day.
Hey Wellness Jedis,
First of all, you are so awesome—we see you (not literally...because we aren't creepy. But figuratively) waking up everyday with aches or pains or fears, looking them in the eye, and participating in your healing journey anyway. You are a champion. You are a warrior.
If no one has stopped you today to acknowledge all of your hard work, all of your research, your guts, your heart and spirit, let us be the ones to do it. Thank YOU for taking care of you. Thank you for rising up to the challenge. Thank you for choosing to fight for your health. We really know how hard it is. How did we do it? How did we get through the hardest days of our lives, the surgeries, the dark thoughts, the incredible pain, the isolation and loneliness, the fear, the anxiety, the weakness, the doubt, and the exhaustion?
ONE DAY AT A TIME. That's how. That's the only way how. And, sometimes, one day at a time was too overwhelming and we had to do life one hour at a time, one moment at a time, or we simply had to DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING.
The business of healing or dealing with a chronic illness can be mind-boggling. The only way we have found it to be manageable is to stay out of the future planning and get right into this moment. What can I do next?
Maybe you're just waking up. Maybe you just need to drink some fluids. Maybe you'd really like to take a shower (and dry brush beforehand!) Maybe you need to EAT some nutritious food. Maybe you need to hear a loving friend's voice. Maybe you need to go back to sleep. Maybe...maybe...you need to go to work (yikes! But we understand. We had to go to work sometimes, too). Whatever, is next on your list, please know that it is ALL you have to do. No more, no less. And *one step at a time* the hours and days will add up, the healing activities will accumulate boosting your mind, body, and spirit, and suddenly (seemingly out of nowhere) you will be feeling better and thinking, "how did I do that?"
ONE DAY AT A TIME, that's how.
Your Wellness Companions.
Hey ladies and gents,
Are you suffering in silence? Well we want to hear your screams! Get loud so we can help you. Get loud so that you can recover. Get loud so you can thrive.
This week, Eva wrote her last column on Everup—the column has been passed to me, Jackie, while Eva finishes her book. In her post, Eva discussed some of the magic that happens when you talk or write honestly about illness: How writing an advice column often propels the writer to take their own advice, and on how talking about "it" can help tear down the isolation chamber that often accompanies illness. Eva and I formed our bond under talking about it—all of the sadness, the LOLs, the pain in the ass doctor visits, and the ridiculous symptoms/ ridiculous ways to cure them. Now we are here. Much better, often thriving, and running a company where we can give other people similar support.
One day after Eva's column ran, my blog post went up this week about depression. The terrible haunting depression that accompanied me through a lot of my sickest days. It's very common to get depressed when you're struggling with illness/wellness, and, for me, the relief came in the moments where I felt supported/heard/less alone. But in order to feel heard, I had to get loud. It was scary, but it changed my life. Especially in the moments that I met people as hilarious and encouraging as Eva. In the togetherness, we suffer less. In fact, sometimes feeling heard can save a life.
So go get loud! Let it up and OUT so you can focus on healing.
One other piece of advice: Be sure to go where the love is! Go to the people that will love you, that will be compassionate and empathetic. Both Eva and I can attest to the powers of sharing your truth and feeling loved for it.
Love and support,
Your wellness companions <3
You've probably heard the expression "hangry," right? If not, let us act as your urban dictionary. Hangry is an expression used to describe the feeling of being so freakin' hungry that you're angry. Clever, right? Your brain is actually the #1 calorie consumer in your body. So, it makes sense that when you don't give your body some form of glucose (the brains' juice) you're affected on a mind, body, and spirit level. Exhibit A: Children. Have you ever watched/heard a child who just so happened to be starving. They scream. They throw tantrums. They cry. As adults, we get better at tolerating the feeling, but the very same sensations are happening inside of our own bodies. Pretty crazy that we would ever let ourselves get to that point, right?
That's how it feels to be hungry when you're NOT sick. In our experience, being in less than optimal health has made it all the more important to be constantly consuming nutrients. Sometimes the simplest things can influence the most profound changes. Jackie experienced a whole new level of insanity when hunger struck after she contracted Lyme, and after enough unfortunate public breakdowns, she started packing "wellness snack-packs." It made such a huge difference that we decided to email all of our favorite health-seekers about it, and give you the general guidelines!
1.) ALWAYS pack plenty of food when you leave the house. YES, even if you think you'll only be gone for an hour, and you'll be fine. What if traffic hits? Or the train doesn't come? Or you end up in some jam where you're starving and the only thing around for purchase is a 7/11 hot dog?
2.) We find it best to have some protein in the mix. Jackie packs some combination of raw cut-up fruits or veggies, walnuts, almonds, lara bars, a packet of almond butter, and/or gluten free crackers.
3.) Be sure you always pack some water! Hydration is just as important.
4.) ENJOY the pleasures of self-care and always being well fed (unless you're on a detox diet)!
Here's to the end of UNNECESSARY suffering.
Welcome to the world of radical self- care!
Your Wellness Companions <3
Hey healing cowboys and girls!
When was the last time you took a vacation? Traveling to visit family does't count. Nor does traveling for work. And, believe it or not, boarding a flight to some exotic location to see a doctor or get treatment doesn't count either. Not even a little. Those are not vacations.
We can guess that it's probably been a while—maybe you're waiting to feel well enough to do that backpacking trip you started planning before life interrupted with illness, pain, or a child. Or maybe you're spending all of your hard-earned cash on supplements and doctor visits. Either way, enough is enough—it's time to chill. We are giving you permission. We are not just giving you permission, we are actually advising you—one word removed from "demanding" because we aren't really the dictator types. But, in our fantasy land of dictatorship where we take over the world, we are just yelling at everyone to breathe and rest . . . and go on vacation!
There's so much power in getting away, turning off the phone, and taking a break! It relieves stress, giving a rest to your adrenal glands, endocrine system, and alkalizing your body. Diseases hate alkalized bodies. A calm and tranquil internal environment can do much more for you than that 5-hour doctor visit you're waiting around town for.
Vacations don't need to be some crazy adventure. Vacations don't need to be taken on an island in the tropics either. Go get an Airbnb the next town over for two nights, and if you can't manage that, then build a fort in your room and hang out for a day or two.
Here are our vacation rules:
1. Take one at least every six months.
2. No work and no medical phone calls allowed. You are on vacation from your daily life! Give your brain a break from trying desperately to keep up with bills, work, relationships, and treatment.
3. Eat well and stay hydrated. This is to enhance your self-care, not to destroy your body so you spend the next six months rebuilding. Allow yourself to a treat or two but don't overdo it and tax your system. We want you to come back radiant!
5. Plan NOW.
We can't wait to hear about it. Giddy up!
With love and support,
Your Wellness Companions <3
“Are you breathing? Are you lucky enough to be breathing?”
“Take a deep breath,” is the most common advice given to people who are panicking. And panicking is the most common reaction to uncertainty—like a complex multisystem illness like Lyme Disease or mast cell activation or fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis/or some combination of all of the above. We don’t have a single client who doesn’t struggle with serious anxiety.
What we have discovered, though, is that illness and anxiety go together like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich which, if you know a bit about digestion, you know is actually a *terrible* combination.
The bread is your body, healing is the peanut butter and panic is the jelly. Panic is your disease’s best friend. . . illness feeds off of it. We know, it seems almost counterproductive to be calm. “We need solutions, RIGHT NOW!!!” your brain is screaming.
But even if we had all the knowledge and solutions in the world, it doesn’t necessarily make us *feel better* in the moment. It can send some of us into an even deeper K-hole of panic, because now we know that panicking is making us sicker, and we are doing harm to our body. LOL. We know this cycle so well. What a piece of garbage cycle. So how do we put the brakes on and take a few deep breaths, breaths that actually help?
Here’s our simple approach:
1.) PAUSE what you’re doing. Which is likely googling and trying to FIGURE OUT what the hell is wrong with you. Or making 1,000 phone calls also trying to figure out what is wrong, OR just obsessing in your bed. Hit pause— Google isn’t going anywhere nor is your obsession and nor is your DRIVE to get better. You do not need anxiety to propel you forward. You can get well, take action, and stay calm all at once. Gently put it down for a minute. Just a minute. In fact, we suggest setting an alarm for two times during the day. When the alarm goes off, it’s time to breathe (take your medicine).
2.) Find a comfortable seated position or lie down. Consciously feel what it is you’re sitting on or lying on. Feel your weight sink into whatever is holding you.
3.) Now for the breathing: you can find many guided meditations, or use our favorite anxiety release app, or you can just breathe—eyes opened or closed—whatever works for you, today.
4.) Pull the air in through your nose, slowly, and let all of the fresh, calm air fill your rib cage and your chest. Feel your body and your ribcage expand. Put your hands on the top of your ribcage, and feel that connection that you have with your own body. It might be feeling like an enemy lately, but it’s been working *so hard* for you. As you exhale, experience your body’s release: your rib cage deflates like a balloon does, your chest falls, your shoulders relax, your body gets heavy until you naturally go to take another breath. Take notice of how well your body is working. It breathes for you! Thank it for all of the health is has and all of the work it’s doing. Give yourself at least three breaths.
5.) Wiggle your fingers and toes and notice any differences.
You might not feel like the Dalai Lama— you might still feel like you’re being chased by a lion. And/or you may be driven to SCREAM because being in your body sucks. So scream. Your body is asking for a release from the tension of anxiety. That is much more productive than staying in the K-hole of Infinite Google and Fear.
Once you practice this enough (we are talking two minutes a day!), you will start consciously breathing more throughout the day: while you watch TV, eat dinner, read, sit at the doctor’s office, AND even when you’re having a WebMD party. And your illness will not like it. In fact, it may just get bored of the calm environment you’ve created.
With support and healing,
Eva and Jackie