I’m Okay, I’m Not Okay

Back in the day a popular concept was recognizing we were just who we were and that was okay. We were all about being real. The problem with that thinking, at least for me, is that I don’t feel okay, in fact most of the time I feel not okay. I am my toughest critic, and my worst enemy. More times than I like to admit, I sabotage any attempt at becoming the person I dream of becoming. I wonder if it is even in my power to be any different. 

I have recently been wrestling with the concept of God loving me as I am. Shouldn’t he be mad that I haven’t made more progress in my 59 years? Shouldn’t I have gotten things right by now? I think of the parable of the sower and question my faithfulness in what God has given me. Have I been foolishly burying my talents in the ground? Some days I loose sight of hope.

I have to remind myself – that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me, Romans 5:8. And it is by grace I have been saved, Ephesians 2:8. There is no condemnation for me, Romans 8:1. And Phillippians 2:13, God is working on my will and my actions to bring them inline with his pleasure. So in short – I am okay and I am not okay concurrently. While it is true, I have not reached perfection, (nor will I in this lifetime,) I am not out of God’s care. He is infinitely more loving and patient than my mind is able to conceptionalize. So I will accept his love and his patience and be thankful, letting go of my negative thoughts.

Rhodiola Rosea

Last on my list is the newest supplement given to me by my naturopath – Rhodiola Rosea. I haven’t been taking it very long but I feel it was a good addition for my personal needs. Normally I experience some SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and some added anxiety over the holidays. And once the holidays are over I generally get hit really hard until my birthday in February. And honestly I did get a few days of feeling like I had to take on the great challenge of improving myself as the year changed over, but right now I am feeling optimistic without anything specific to warrant that feeling. I haven’t been taking my full recommended dose but I’m not really taking any of my supplements at full dose. I seem to do well at about half.

Rhodiola Rosea is also an adaptogenic herb and it’s benefits range from improving brain function to burning belly fat. It can enhance memory and lower cortisol. It can improve work performance, insomnia, fatigue, and depression. 

I’ve only taken it since mid-December so I don’t have a lot of experience with it. I will have to update you as I continue my journey. Anyway, that concludes my top four supplements for helping live life with a little less stress. I’m sure I’ll learn something new and interesting in the future and I’ll be sure to share it with you. 😊

Magnesium 

Honestly I would rather write about exotic herbs than something boring sounding like magnesium. Magnesium isn’t something new or revolutionary. Most people have heard of magnesium. So why  should you take the time to learn more about it? Magnesium deficiency may be the largest health problem in the world today according to my search on the internet. And what some people don’t realize is as you start taking more calcium it is important to keep a proper balance with magnesium.

My own story starts with a visit to my new naturopathic doctor. After describing my symptoms which included eye twitches, increased anxiety, and hot flashes, I was given a magnesium supplement to help with these specific symptoms. I will warn you as you find your proper dose you may get the runs! Also the kind of magnesium you take makes a difference. The one I took was a combination of magnesium malate/citrate/ascorbate/lactate. I tried another brand and had more stomach issues. If you have trouble taking it internally there are magnesium sprays and even using Epsom salts in your bath can help. You can try getting your magnesium from food but part of the reason so many of us are deficient is because of our depleted soil and popular farming methods.

Magnesium is utilized in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body and it is suggested that 90% of us are deficient. Blood tests are unreliable in determining magnesium levels. That leaves us with checking ourselves against the list of symptoms caused by deficiency and supplementing our diet to determine if our symptoms resolve. (You can find tons of symptom lists on the internet.)

I did get relief from the eye twitches (and muscle cramps) as well as the panic attacks but the hot flashes were another story. 

Thanks for reading my blog. I hope you find something helpful.

Ashwagandha 

Okay, I didn’t post yesterday because it’s hard to write about how much I’m feeling better with these supplements when I was under the weather with the flu. So I gave myself the day off from writing. 

So if you read my previous post on Tulsi you will be ahead of the game understanding Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is also an adaptogenic herb which has been shown to have many benefits. My introduction to Ashwagandha came again through information given in a webinar. The main reason I decided to take it was to support my thyroid. The reason I continue to take it is because the benefit I find it brings in my ability to deal with stress. It has some of the same benefits as Tulsi with additional benefits of improving brain health, and increasing stamina. Having my mother-in-law pass from Alzheimer’s disease I will probably continue to take this throughout my life.

I am purposely not being thorough in my explanations, hoping if you are interested, you will look into these herbs yourself or ask your doctor if they are a good option for you. Even though I came across these two doing my own research my doctor has approved my continued usage of them.

I don’t know who said this first but I believe when it comes to health it is important to be your own advocate. I also believe that for me this is inclusive of God for just as He is able to heal He is also able to guide.

Tulsi/Holy Basil

Okay as promised, here is just a toe dip into the pool of Tulsi. Tulsi is classified as an adaptogenic herb. Which means it helps stabilize the body’s response to stress. I originally found this recommended through a webinar on thyroid disease, specifically hypothyroidism. (I had thyroid surgery years ago to remove a goiter and thus half my thyroid as well.) But as I looked into it further I discovered it is also used for such things as adrenal fatigue, anxiety, acne, blood sugar, and even cancer, to mention a few. 

I do find it calming. I take it in pill form in the morning, but also in tea form if I feel stressed out. I personally like the Tulsi Tea with Moringa (also an adaptogen) however I haven’t been able to find this one for over 6 months. I think it has been a bad year for growing Moringa. I still like the Chai flavor and it comes in other flavors as well as straight Tulsi. 

So this was my first herbal find. I love it. I’ve been taking it for a couple of years and did notice a difference when I stopped taking it for a few weeks when I had run out. Compared to the feeling I had when I was on antidepressants this beats them hands down. Much less “druggy”. More natural.

Tomorrow – Ashwagandha.

My Sanity Supplements

I know so many people who deal with depression and/or anxiety. Some who take prescribed medication, some who self medicate, and some who just try and deal. I personally have been in all of those categories at one time or another and I guess I fall into the second category now, although my medicine is my supplements. And before I go into what I have found that works for me let me state that I am not a doctor and I do not pretend to know what is best for other people. I just want to share some information that could prove useful.

I have been on a health journey over the past five years and have come across three main herbs and one mineral that seems to do the trick for keeping me stable. Two I found recommended through the Internet and two through my naturopath. I will list them in order of discovery and then I will take some time to delve into each ones benefits in nice short posts over the next few days, thus fulfilling a few days of writing every day. Yay!

  1. Tulsi (also known as Holy Basil)
  2. Ashwagandha
  3. Magnesium 
  4. Rhodiola Rosea

Now these are not all the supplements I take, and I also use light therapy on occasion, but to me these are the major breakthroughs for my own sanity. So, tomorrow I will share about Tulsi. Until then, goodnight. 💤🌙 

I Will Fail

I know I will fail. That is the thought that is plaguing me on this day of resolutions. So then the questions beg, “Do I attempt it anyway? Or just resign to my failure before I begin?” As I ponder these questions I begin to understand that just as assuredly as I know I will fail, I know I must try. It is in my nature to try. Just as it is in my nature to fail. This year I think the difference is that I am making peace with failing as part of what it takes to succeed. If I set up rules or parameters of what it looks like when I am succeeding, I have to look at those as tools and not the adherence to the rules as the success itself. 

So let me give a couple of examples of what I personally am thinking: I want to write. So if I decide I will write everyday in 2017 and find I miss a day on January 5th, my normal self will resign that I have failed. I may give it a couple more days, but, if I miss January 8th, that will be the end of it. Secondly, I want to lose some weight. I had been following the Paleo lifestyle for several years but recently (since Thanksgiving) I’ve thrown my normal diet out the window telling myself I will get back to it January 1st. Now I’ve already had some leftovers from yesterday that are totally off my diet, so my normal self would give in to the next thing because today is already shot. So why fuss about it today? I’ll just start tomorrow! It’s that stupid “all or nothing” attitude that plagues me relentlessly. But if I make peace with the failing, it losses it’s power over me and I can be fresh in the moment and let go and do the next best thing.

So for today, this is my next best thing. I am writing! I will attempt to write something everyday even if it is just a to-do list or a grocery list. I won’t let myself get discouraged if I miss a day here or there, and I won’t fret over whether I am posting on my blog for others to read or writing in my notebook working on a story. And if I’m having a birthday, I will eat cake!

I want to encourage you to have hope in the new year! Isn’t that what resolutions are about? And don’t let your hopes and dreams get squashed when life doesn’t let you be perfect. God is the only perfect one and he deeply loves us!

Emanuel

We celebrate on Christmas morn

The little babe in a manger born.

Not as the one whose blood was shed 

Nor as one risen from the dead,

But as one who left heaven above

To walk this earth to reveal God’s love,

To know this life we know so well,

To be God with us, Emanuel.

I wrote this poem to remind myself that God thought it important enough that we know he knows all about what our human experience is that he emptied himself. (Philippians 2:7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. ESV) Jesus, fully God, fully man! For our sake, not for any lack in himself, but out of his goodness and love.

Merry Christmas!

Reinventing Myself/The Aftermath of Retreat (or am I really just having a midlife crisis?)

It’s been nearly 3 months since we held our women’s retreat. I had hoped to post some glorious conclusion to all the hard work I and my wonderful committee had done. But instead of coming out raring to start the next retreat and feeling inspired, I find myself questioning everything I’m doing. Don’t get me wrong, retreat turned out great and I believe God showed up and people were changed or inspired. And I did expect there to be a “let down” period following such an intense spiritual endeavor. However, I didn’t expect to find myself doubting my place in the grand scheme of things.

I believe it began with a word of prayer given me by our speaker. She said this may be a time to reinvent myself. At the time I was thinking, “This is exactly what I need.” And so began the questioning, and the doubting. I am certain that is not what God had in mind when he inspired that prayer, but somehow I’ve managed to twist it into some form of midlife crisis! I have every intention to have a sit down with my pastor and go over some of my concerns, but part of me feels silly that I am not able to come out of this on my own.

Do you ever have that feeling after a fully planned vacation that you need another vacation just to do nothing but relax? Maybe the next retreat I plan I should plan a retreat just to relax afterwards. One to just mull over all the things I learn so I can “get a feel” for how they fit in my life. A time to soak, a time to process.

Well I may not have come to any conclusions, and I probably haven’t inspired anyone by writing this post, but I wanted to bring some closure to my Adventures in Retreat Planning series and let you know I’m still alive and trying to follow God’s plan as best I can.

Sending all my love to you and praying for peace within ourselves.

In Awe of Him

I spent hundreds of dollars and countless hours a few years back, trying to follow the trend of becoming a professional blogger (read – getting paid.) I attempted a couple of classes and found a blog hosting company and opened my blog In Awe of Him as well as a second blog Sandra F. Blackburn. I had great vision of starting a magazine type blog with other writers contributing stories of the amazing things God had done in their lives. I had ideas of making a template to share with local churches where they would be able to implement the magazine for their local communities. 

I had high hopes. But I’m not too proud to admit I’ve come to the conclusion that this was a failed venture. So what you will see here are all my posts from these two blogs showing up in this blog. This is truly where I find myself in the arms of God’s grace. This is the place I find I can be transparent in my failures and successes. This is the place where I can find my hope and my joy. The Far Reaches of Grace is just another way of being In Awe of Him. But it’s home to me. We don’t deserve grace, we can’t earn grace, yet Jesus died to extend that grace to us. And I for one am very thankful he did!

Maybe we don’t need to start something new to become something new, maybe we just need to be ourselves being transformed right from where we are.