Namaste: The Light In Me Recognizes and Admires the Light that Shines in You

A woman in a cross legged position with a relaxed face in a forest.
Image by feelgoodjunkie from Pixabay

I finished my first week of yoga school yesterday, and already it has been an enlightening experience. For one thing, it expanded on the idea of what the path to a higher consciousness is/heaven/God is — and that is love. Love for yourself, devotion to love, which leads to love for others. This is largely self-care, which doesn’t necessarily mean mani pedis and bubble baths. It’s getting to know yourself and learning to love what you find. You seek and find.

This also means that I can feel gratitude for my body as a vessel, which helps me to deal with my chronic pain better. Saying thank you to my body for however much it can move helps me to move even more. It is true I am in a pain flare, but I am still moving through it.

One thing I have found is that everyone is an embodiment of light, or love, and we all deserve to love ourselves and be shown love. This means I treat everyone the same, from my husband to my dog, and have love towards myself when I inevitably mess up. I should have been able to learn this from my upbringing alone, but sometimes looking at pretty much the same thing from another angle helps to absorb the message.

I have a few Christian followers, and I assure you what I have learned largely lines up with Christian philosophy. You cannot love God without feeling love yourself. There is a teaching of grace and works towards oneself and others in yoga philosphy.

I am writing this as a reflection of the history of yoga and yoga philosophy that I have learned on my first week of class. I found it to be extremely interesting and worthy to pass on.

Namaste,

Meara

I Started Yoga School: My Longtime Yoga Teacher Training Goal Realized as a Spoonie 200 YTT Yoga & Ayurveda Center

A woman on a pink mat with a white background extending her body into the cobra yoga position - shoulders back, head tilted upward, feet pointing downward, hips and legs hovering above the mat.
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Before I developed chronic pain, I had a host of mental health disorders. Two biggies were dissociation and anxiety. I would bump into people walking around in public, duck out of hallways to be met by a face too flustered to apologize (and not sure to apologize). Not to mention my health was poor in general. I lacked stamina and self-esteem (problems which came back later).

My university offered 200 level and 300 level kinesiology courses in yoga for a required fitness credit. I took three of these required 200 level courses because I loved it so much.

Gradually, through learning savasana and deep breathing through poses, I became more in tune with myself. I began to see the world around me and my place in it. It was easier to not bump into people in public and my posture improved — because I was now aware of how my physical body felt.

Outside of my kinesiology classes, I took yoga at the recreational center daily, and purchased a yoga mat (which has now been destroyed by cats, and I badly need a new one).

I fell out of yoga when I graduated college due to working the night shift, but journeyed back once I developed chronic pain. I found I still remembered many of the asanas and my yoga textbook from college. Surprisingly I was still limber — although the philosophy of yoga is so much more than that.

Right now 45 minutes a day of yoga is helping my pain flare, any more than that is damaging me. I am hoping I can pull out of this okay. Right now the Yoga Alliance is letting online students register with them upon completion of a Registered Yoga School’s program by December 30, and I intend to do just that.

I can throw myself really hard at things, and I’m trying not to do that. Pacing for me is very difficult. Currently I’m reading the Bhagavad Gita as an audiobook and copying my notes from the past two days.

Should you wish to become a registered yoga teacher, check out the Yoga Alliance’s Rating on the Yoga & Ayurveda Center, my school. I am taking the 200 level RYS and loving it so far!

My goal of becoming a yoga teacher is to help other chronically ill people with chronic pain like myself, and to also heal myself: body and mind.

The light in me recognizes and observes the light inside you,

Meara

Product Review: Acupressure Mat & Pillow

Disclaimer: there are affiliate links in this post. If you click on them, some money may go to me, at no extra cost to you.

I love acupuncture, but with the current state of the world I unfortunately can’t receive it. My pain flares are ever changing and varying in experience – for some I will be crying in bed, others it’s sleeping all the time, and still others I will be functional but unable to move very well.

In the past I heard about acupressure mats, and recently saw a functional medicine doctor who recommended an acupressure pen. The pens are more expensive than the mats, and so to get out of my current pain flare I ordered the ProsourceFit Acupressure Mat & Pillow. It’s $15 if you follow the link.

It came in the mail today, and I was beyond excited to try it. Admittedly I was a bit worried about how it would work on my hard stone floors, but I had no problems. With the acupressure mat comes a manual, and I started out at beginner – 10 minutes. I could have gone longer, because it was so relaxing!

I focused on my back, neck, and shoulders. The manual that comes with the acupressure mat provides different positions for different kinds of relief. There is even a way to use the mat while working in a chair! My lower back is in pain all the time, so this provided needed relief.

This mat feels like a rollercoaster of soothing sensation, which is kind of how real acupuncture is. I could feel the tension relief sensation move around my body.

After the 10 minutes, I found I was very chilled out, like after getting a good massage. As someone who would get weekly massages, but can no longer due to budget and dystopian America, I highly recommend this for fellow fibromyalgia folks (or anyone with chronic pain, especially sciatica) for that nice “ahhh” pleasant sensation.

I highly recommend the ProsourceFit Acupressure Mat & Pillow for anyone needing relief on a budget.

This product will make you sleepy, so I recommend using it at night before bed, instead of starting your day with it!

My recommendation: The ProsourceFit Acupressure Mat & Pillow

Unlearning Internalized Ableism

Rainbow painting with broad strokes. Title: Unlearning Internalized Ableism. spoonielifestyle.com

While writing my book, Wedding Planning for Spoonies, I realized how ableist I was despite having a disability. Even the subtitle of the OG cover shows that.

I have had a debilitating mental health disorder for 17 years, and chronic pain for 1 followed by extreme GI issues for 4. Each night I would vomit. But the doctors all said that nothing was wrong.

Because I had experienced discrimination throughout my life, I assumed I wasn’t ableist. But I slowly recognized, especially in the past few months, how I had internalized that prejudice and let it define myself and others.

For example, the word “crazy.” I had always adopted this moniker to try to mask my severe mental health problems instead of addressing them. I very badly wanted to be a “normal” person. Later I realized that disabled people, mentally ill included, are normal. We are our own normal. Disabled people are human beings like everyone else.

Maybe I never stopped to question what a human being was. It isn’t someone who drives a car or has a career. I was so focused on achieving that I never stopped to think that all people get sad and angry sometimes. We all get hurt. Maybe we don’t all have identical experiences, but we all feel the same feelings. There isn’t a person on this planet who never felt anger or grief.

In this regard, perhaps I was lucky to end up disabled. I had to slow down and reevaluate myself and work hard on myself to change bad thought patterns that blinded me to fundamental truths. I’m not saying I don’t want things to change – I would love to be healthy again – but this season of growth was spurred by losing total control of my life.

Perhaps when we are forced to “let go and let God,” we find ourselves and others in the eye of the storm.

Persistence

Open book with overlay text: "Persistence it pays off spoonielifestyle.com"

You know those pain flares when you end up crying? Yeah, I just pulled through one of those. I think it was the Saharan dust storm. But I don’t want to just complain. It’s more of an explanation of why I’ve been gone for so long, in case anyone noticed.

I became a Super Contributor for The Mighty and had my resume forwarded to the CEO of Junebug Weddings. Both are paid positions, and I am extremely excited.

When I talked to The Mighty about being a Super Contributor, I explained I was elated but confused, as most of my articles hardly have any likes on them. They explained that it was more about my persistence and creativity that they wanted to make me a Super Contributor. I have somewhere around 12 articles written with them.

Persistence means a lot, friends. If you’re struggling, don’t give up, and maybe read a book. That’s where I’m at with my book writing – I’m reading other wedding books right now for inspiration, and it’s helping a ton.

If you read this I’m sending you love vibes from my part of the universe. Thanks for reading.

Self-Care For Fibromyalgia

woman receiving massage with pink border. text: "self care for fibromyalgia"

I’ve been off the internet for a while trying to figure out good ways to care for myself as I went through my latest pain flare and manic episode. With the help of my EMDR therapist, I came up with a daily routine, scheduled by the hour, for about 4 different tasks I could do, excluding morning quiet time hour.

I’ve been practicing a rough version of the routine for about 4 days now, and it really helps when the anxiety kicks in. Knowing I have something to do at all times is extremely grounding. In the back of my mind I do know I have something to do at all times, but having a printed out schedule for a visual cue really helps.

So, my biggest tip for fibromyalgia self-care is to have a broken up schedule, especially for days you don’t work, or to manage your work day.

Morning Quiet Time Hour

I have about 7 tasks I do in morning quiet time hour. That sounds like a lot, but they’re all in the same vein – spiritual and relaxing.

I begin by putting on some chakra healing music. Then there’s yoga, with a minimum of 5 asanas (AKA poses), each held for 10 breath cycles. After this I grab some water and I meditate for at least 10 minutes, maybe more, to a morning time meditation on gratitude. Then I do intention setting, a type of meditation where you place your hands on your heart and reflect on what makes you afraid, what gives you strength, and a spiritual power. The point is to find a word that comes to mind when reflecting on the spiritual power to center your day around. When you know your word, write it on a piece of paper and place it in a drawer or your pocket, and at the end of the day read what it was. Once I find my word, or intention, I write a gratitude list with the chakra music on and sit in the dark until the sun comes up. Once the sun is up, I grab a coffee and sit on my back porch with a sacred text to read and my journal to reflect in. The point of this last step is to grab the first 20 minutes of sunlight.

I do set an alarm every day to wake up before everyone else. Some might think this is pretentious or impossible, but I really do think with fibromyalgia personal quiet time is key to starting off your day right. Investing in yourself alone and having niches for yourself is paramount to cultivating positive energy that you will need to fight the pain off throughout your day. Sometimes putting in a little more effort at the start results in ease the rest of your day.

The Rough Schedule

7AM is breakfast and more coffee. I mix up writing, laundry and job hunting until 11AM, when I hop in the shower and make sure I’m dressed with my hair and full makeup done for lunch. After lunch, around 12:30 I do “music in the dark” – either chakra healing music or my favorite tunes of the day for thirty minutes to an hour. At 1 to 1:30 PM I start continuing education. I have a few free Udemy courses on web design and writing I’m taking, and I spend this time until 5pm with a few music and writing breaks. It’s time to cook dinner at 5. After the family finishes at 7, I either hang out with a friend over Zoom or read a book and do a DIY home spa. Lastly, I finish the day with a relaxing meditation. I’m done by 9:15, and it’s off to bed.

DIY Home Spa

I’m big on physical pampering to fight fibromyalgia. I like to feel physical joy, and I take pride and pleasure in grooming myself. This is why I put on makeup every day and do my hair. Another thing I like to do is take a large tupperware container, big enough for both my feet to be submerged in water, and put a kettle of hot water (not boiling), 2 cups regular temperature water, 1 cup lavender epsom salts, 1 cup coconut oil, and 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil in it. I have a little space of the house to myself and a comfortable chair. Then I turn off all the lights, light a candle and soak my feet for 20 minutes while reading a light, fluffy book and listening to my current favorite music. If you do the foot soak, be sure to put lotion on your feet afterwards!

The alternative variation of my nightly home spa is a epsom salt bath without the coconut oil and two cups of epsom salts.

Wedding Planning For Spoonies: Getting Back on the Horse

Watercolor painting of red roses with two bells above a rainbow wash and two spoons, one in a blue bow tie and one in a wedding dress holding hands. The text reads "wedding planning for spoonies by Meara Mullen"

Special thanks to @KarenDScotland and @AManWithFibro who made this iteration of the book possible.

I am on iteration 4 of the book. Right now I am awaiting the official MS notes from my editor. But she did send me some more notes in an email. Right now my job is to:

  • Beef up word count (sitting around 20,000 words which is a bit short after gutting the book)
  • Make the book more hopeful and peppier

The book’s job is to serve:

  • the mobility impaired (meaning wheelchair users, cane users, walker users, anything that helps you move, etc)
  • those who suffer from chronic pain
  • those who have chronic illness (this is a huge range – and includes those with epilepsy)

I’ve taken a break for a week or two from writing because of various stressors in life and I’m going to take advantage of a calm day of chaos to get back in the saddle again. Thank you to those who have helped me with my interviews and surveys, you are invaluable and amazing.

If you should wish to contribute to the project, email me at spoonielifestyle@gmail.com. The more research the better!

Why I Take Selfies

Today, I had to take steroids. For the third time this week I ended up walking around the house using my wedding cane. It was terrible but the steroids helped and I’m keeping my legs elevated.

Another thing about today and the other days of the week I’ve used a mobility aid, whether I’ve left the house or not, I’ve done a full hair and makeup getup, and worn a pretty dress. Yesterday I tried the Pinterest listerine pedicure, which exfoliated my feet but turned them blue, and painted my nails red. I’ll probably stick to Korean feet masks.

Every time I make myself pretty, I take a selfie because of all the extra effort that went into it, especially if it was on a bad day. I am proud of the work it took to doll myself up, whether it’s a pedicure, skincare, an outfit, my hair, my makeup, or a mix.

Going back to being a child, I have found strength in my femininity. Many people denounce selfies as vain, but after my illness, it’s simply me saying, “hey, I did it!”

I’m not looking for attention or accolades. Just the fact that I did it for myself and have something to look back on is enough to help me fight my battle against chronic illness.

Do I always do this? No. But it helps when I do.

Whatever helps you take a step forward, do it.

Wedding Planning For Spoonies: Now With Actual Spoons! 🥄

It’s time for book talk! I’m back to almost 20,000 words after getting the book down to 16,000. That’s quite a feat for a week. And now I have this adorable cover!

It probably is a bit cisgender – but I wanted the rainbow background for a reason. Please give me some #feedback for fun!

For those who don’t know, this is a wedding planning book for the chronically ill and disabled that covers LGBTQ+ as well as cisgender weddings.

I am bad at social media

When I was growing up, friends always told me I should be a marketer.

I’m trying my hand at it now, and I’m telling you, I am SO BAD at it.

I’ve been sharing some of my articles at various places (Facebook, LinkedIn) and they barely get any traction. It’s horrible. The only platform I have any connection on is Twitter.

Maybe I should take a marketing class? I’m already certified in SEO, but that isn’t working well for this website either.

It’s duncehat time!!!