Flourishing with Chronic Illness

Flourishing with Chronic Illness is a special body of work, dedicated to helping people who are living with chronic conditions to see that they have the power to shape the experience of their own lives. In our society we have become overly dependent on the advice of doctors, but they only know part of the story. If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness, you do not have to take on a typical passive-patient role. You have the power to shape your experience! Some things may help improve the course of an illness, others can ease symptoms. Even in the face of persistent symptoms and progressing illness, there are ways of shaping your experience that will allow you to live a deeply rich and fulfilling life. This work is an exploration of the many ways that you can make a difference in your own health and life, from healthy eating and exercise, to meditation, self-compassion, and beyond! Flourishing with Chronic Illness presents a holistic, mindfulness-based, love-fueled approach, infused with insights from 7 years of exploring the many ways to live life to its fullest with chronic illness. It is based on my own journey of living with Multiple Sclerosis, and the many ways I’ve found both to improve my health AND to have a deep and gratifying experience of life even when faced with extreme difficulties. We can’t control everything, but there is so much we can do!

The book, “Flourishing with Chronic Illness: A Mind-Body-Spirit Approach to Living your Best Life with Any Diagnosis” is coming soon to Kindle! Click here to learn more and get notified when the book is released.

You are Already Enough

You are already enough.

What if in this moment, there is nothing you need to control, change, or manage?

What if there is nothing you need to do, and you can allow yourself to simply be?

 

 

Starting from Here and Now – The New Website

A few weeks ago I made the discovery that my entire website had been lost. All of the content, everything, was gone. The site, which I had made a big financial investment in, and spent a huge amount of time creating content for, was gone without a trace. Thank goodness for perspective, because otherwise this could have felt completely devastating! I am not saying this was a painless discovery. It was an EXPENSIVE lesson that will surely stay with me. I had all sorts of unpleasant thoughts come up, “How could I have let that happen?” “How could I be so irresponsible?,” but thankfully, I didn’t get caught up in them. I was able to notice the thoughts and feelings as they were coming up, and allow them to move through, as I focused on doing what I needed to do, and move forward with getting a new site started.

 

I can honestly say that I am grateful that it happened when it did. At the time, I had taken an official break from coaching to focus on finishing my book. If this had happened during a time when I was actively working with people, or seeking new clients, it would have felt like a much bigger issue! I was also very fortunate in that the winter is apparently a slow season for website designers, and my talented friend Linda at Ruby Red Design Studio, was able to scramble, work her big ol’ heart out, and get a new site together in time for my official re-launch date. I have also taken this as an opportunity to start from scratch with the site content. In the past, I had been exposed to a lot of marketing knowledge that was based completely on selling. Some of it was gimmick-y, and felt inauthentic to me, and yet I did get caught up in it to a degree, because I had been told that this is what was necessary to attract the people I was going to help. I’ve learned so much in the last couple of years about communicating authentically, and it’s an ongoing practice, but WOW – it is coming much more naturally to me than it used to. So, even though I had snippets of content saved from the old site and it would have been much easier to just copy and paste from that, I’ve chosen to rewrite all of it from what I’m feeling here and now, totally from the heart. This has felt really rewarding already and the site now feels like a much more accurate depiction of me, my work, and what I am here to offer people.

 

Reviewing some of my old blog posts, I’m struck by how much has changed over the last few years. It’s apparent in so many ways, including in my writing style, perspectives and just the general feel of things. So I will be reposting some older blog posts here and there, some of them edited and updated, but for the most part, I am using this as a fresh start. Instead of focusing on anything that was lost, I am embracing this opportunity to start over from where I am, and trusting that the wisdom that is coming through now is what will most serve my readers.

 

So, more posts to come! It feels liberating and exciting to release attachment to what was old and outdated, and to have a fresh start, from right here, right now. Ahhh.

Self-Care: Because You’re Worth It!

Anna M. Maynard

Many of us feel that we “should” be putting more effort into taking care of ourselves, but it simply is not a priority. Why? Many people, either consciously or unconsciously, don’t see themselves as worthy of their own care and effort. We may give selflessly to others, and perhaps “treat” ourselves to a momentary indulgence here and there, but how many of us really put in the effort to nourish ourselves on a deeper level so that we feel our best in the long term?

In order to achieve optimal wellbeing, self-care must be seen as a top priority. Unfortunately it’s not as easy as just knowing that we would benefit from putting more effort towards self-care. In the long-term, it must come from caring enough about yourself that you want to treat yourself as lovingly as possible. Imagine what it would be like if you were to treat yourself as you would a dear friend. For some of us it is uncomfortable even to think about this. We may think that self-love means being selfish or self-indulgent, but this simply is not true. The more we nourish ourselves, the more we are able to truly give to others.

So how do we move towards this aspiration of self-care?
With time, practice, and patience.

Start paying attention to negative self-talk. The way that many of us speak to ourselves in our own minds is nothing short of self-harassment. Having this near-constant, inescapable negativity is extremely stressful, whether we realize it or not. Most of us would never consider allowing another person to speak to us the way we speak to ourselves, and we certainly would not treat others in this way.

Life is difficult enough. We can’t control the way other people treat us, but we can learn to control the way we treat ourselves. We can learn to notice when we are thinking or acting in ways that are unkind, and we can make the choice to replace these thoughts and actions with more nourishing ones.

It may feel unnatural at first, but that’s perfectly okay. It makes sense that after thinking a certain way for so long, it will take some time and effort to start thinking differently. Just be patient with yourself and you will find that practicing self-kindness gets easier with time, eventually even becoming second nature.

Cultivating mindfulness through the regular practice of meditation is one way that has been proven to help individuals develop self-kindness, patience, awareness, and many other beneficial qualities.  Not only have these benefits been demonstrated repeatedly through scientific studies, people have been enriching their lives through meditation for thousands of years. Meditation does not refer to just one practice. There are many, varying forms of meditation, and it’s worth exploring which method works best for you. One particular type of meditation called Metta, or Lovingkindness, is particularly powerful for cultivating self-compassion and non-judgment.

I love helping people get started with meditation, and mindfulness is a huge part of the work I do. Soon I’ll have some of my own recordings available through the website, but for now, there are plenty of free resources online that you can check out! One of my favorite teachers, Mooji, has several meditations available on YouTube. Here’s one that I find particularly powerful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4zArI0uqWY

Check it out and see what you think! If this one doesn’t resonate with you, I encourage you to keep exploring. And check back here for guided meditations in the near-future!

 

*Photo by Anna M. Maynard