Here and Now

Never let the things you want, make you forget the things you have.

 

For a dreamer and a natural born planner the struggle is real. A never ending battle to focus on the here and now. How often do we stake claim on a goal for the foreseeable future and blow full steam ahead, but forget to “stop and smell the roses”? Lately, I have been so fixated on the future that I have not stopped to look at what is right in front of me, and above all be grateful for it. I found myself transfixed yesterday in a moment that was both invigorating and self-actualizing. It was the moment I realized, time waits for no one. This is not a new lesson but one that from time to time I fail to keep in the forefront of my mind. As I stood in a moment with my son, standing in the grass of our front lawn I realized just how much I focus on things for my future that I want to give or do. Although there is nothing wrong with wanting to create what I believe to be a better and brighter future, I do see a problem missing out on moments in the here and now.

So with that I took off twirling and throwing my little man. Running around on the lawn and eventually throwing us both in the grass, worn out and gasping for breath (who would think I am only 30). In one simple moment, that smiling face brought me back to the here and now. The here and now to be grateful for that small moment. The moment’s we as people with chronic illness only dream about when we are in a hospital bed or bedridden from our diseases. In that moment, my son reminded me to live. Not in any way shape or form am I saying that I am fixed from this thought process, but that moment, a moment shared between mother and son transcends through every aspect of my life. Stay focused Christina… Take a moment and taste your coffee, smile at the passing company, and above all remember that life is here and now, be grateful. Tomorrow is uncertain for all but especially those of us fighting battles. Hell, today is uncertain. What I know is as I went to sleep staring at my son’s face, I thanked him for the lesson. He will never know the true depth of what he teaches me regularly.

 

Happy Monday Morning!

 

XOXO,

Undefeated Grateful Me

 

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Keep your head up…

Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.

It is not always easy to hold your head up in the middle of a storm For many reasons it’s easier to look down. The only reason I look down is because it is the path of least resistance. When you are in the center of a storm, the last thing you want to do is answer questions. To answer questions or cater to anyone else’s emotions, do they not see you are in need of your own TLC? So to me it has always been easier to keep trucking. Often times people take not holding one’s head up as a sign of an insecurity. I often wonder if these people ever stop to think, maybe we just don’t want to talk to you it has nothing to do with insecurities. I quite frankly am very secure in who I am. Keeping my head low has nothing to do with who I am or how I feel about myself.

SO, on with today’s lesson. I spoke to someone I haven’t seen since I was around 7 years old. He was a good friend of the family and he told me today that whatever I do to keep my head up. You would think I had never hear this before, for heaven sakes I give this advice all of the time. Today, it was a little different. Today it hit me differently. I was hearing this message from someone I had not seen in over 20 years but someone that I considered family regardless of the distance. He told me ” Life is going to throw you things and with each passing decade it will throw you more difficulties, but it is up to you to hold your head up through the storm”. It may not sound as profound as it was but it was one of those moments where I took stock of everything around me for fear of forgetting that moment. Maybe it was profound because it was advice not given to me by just anyone. Maybe it was profound because it wasn’t someone just shooting from the hip and giving me advice that didn’t know me from a hole in the wall. Either way it was profound.

In that moment I took stock. I realized I have been in serious self preservation mode for nearly 6 months and probably longer. My current woes are no more serious or important than the next person. Self preservation is not bad, but when you allow self preservation to be all you live well that is no longer healthy. So today I looked up for the first time. I realized I was not looking people in the eye’s any more, today I did. I realized that although I am in the middle of what is one of the toughest years of my life, that I need to look up and hold my head high. Realistically, how else would I see the beauty ahead?

Everyone remember:

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light! 

Albus Dumbledore

XOXO

Undefeated Diva

Getting to know the new me…

Sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination.

I have searched for the eject button on the recent path of my journey, to no avail. In the years since my diagnosis I have done what I always do, plow through, head held high, never looking back. As of late that methodology has not been as comforting. Life’s lemons are still sitting on my porch waiting to be made into it’s potent beverage. I have stared at them not quite understanding what to do with them, as my normal kick ass, straight forward approach has had me coming up drained and in the same place. Stagnant and drained are pretty substantial words to describe my current state of being. I have pondered and scoured for an answer to the “why” and it wasn’t until several days ago that I found the answer.

Let me be clear, my friendship with my chronic illnesses is nothing new. We are several years in and I thought that I had gotten a nice hold on them. What I wasn’t ready to admit to myself or the world around me was that, I no longer knew who I saw in the mirror. She looked familiar, she sounded familiar, but all in all not the same person. Really, it should have come as no surprise to me but it surly was. As I was in my beautiful world of deep cleaning and ridiculously loud music this week, the answer to the why was so very clear.

I no longer knew myself.

For someone that knew who she was and where she was going in life at a ridiculously young age this was a catastrophic blow. It all made sense though. The feeling of being lost and alone even when I was surrounded by the people that loved me most. The feeling of unease and uncertainty when I had the best support system someone could ask for. It all made perfect sense. When all you know is this semblance of a person that handles life with a vigorous fire that can never be snuffed, then you find yourself confused and depleted from life’s lemonade, you can’t help but feel shaken down. Right now, in my life I am getting a shake down. One day I woke up and I was in another body that had unimaginable pains, unclear thoughts from what could only be described as a foggy state, and a back bone that no longer stood straight. Who was this person? How did this happen?

Getting diagnosed wasn’t the hard part, reacquainting myself… well, with myself has been the most excruciating experience. Trying to do this while living life on life’s terms, well now your asking for too much. Having to work, be a wife, a daughter, and fuck it a productive member of society… All the while trying to understand what happened to you… Now that’s a damn epic mission. Nevertheless, I realized it and all of the missing pieces came together. I hadn’t realized that it was going to be a grieving process or even a process period. The vibrant woman was now a slower moving version of who she used to be. A more jaded and fatigued version of who she used to be. The woman that looks back at me in the mirror is tired, depleted, and honestly a little angry… Not the old me that was the fire spitting free spirit with endless energy. Can I place all of the blame on chronic illnesses? Well sure I can but that’s not who I am. I take responsibility for my actions and my part in the situation. I could have done more about my illnesses. I could have done some more soul searching. In the end, I won’t look back at what I could have done, to me thats a waste of perfectly good brain cells that I should preserve for days that the brain fog sets in.

So where do I go from here I asked myself. Well to the beach of course! So I find myself at the beach, searching for answers to questions I thought I already had the answers to. I am searching for answers and way to steer this new way of life for me. To figure out how to still be that firecracker powerhouse that is determined to teach the world all the while possessing a body that does not match the soul.

What I have come to realize in all of this is, this is normal guys. I am no different than anyone going through any struggle. It is real, it is normal, and it is going to be O.K. Now I just need to find sticky notes to help with the brain fog and some great heels!

Until Next Time.

 

XOXO,

Undefeated Diva!

Healthy Alternatives- Miss Lotties Farm Review

A healthy outside starts from the inside.

Robert Urich

** Disclosure: Remedies are not one size fits all, this is what worked for me**

To say I have never felt so welcomed in someones home, would be an understatement. After several Facebook conversations with Robin, the matriarch of Miss Lotties Farm the time had come to meet her. The excitement was beyond words.

Let me start at the beginning. Hey, I live with Lupus just in case none of you knew! The pain that has accompanied my Lupus has been astronomical as of late. My amazing father (President, Technical Edge Electric) so happened to be doing some work at Miss Lotties Farm, when a conversation was had concerning what the farm represented and his beautiful daughter. (Hell Yes… That’s me 🙂 )

After doing what of course was a phenomenal job by my father, he “harassed” me to come by and drop something off. When he arrived he handed me an insulated bag and instructions. He proceeded to explain the day’s happenings and how Miss Lotties Farm came to be and why what looked like a suspicious substance was now sitting on my counter.  He explained that the suspicious substance were in fact leaves in the package, called Anamu (what a relief I was not going to be a suspect in any crime 🙂 )He went on to tell me about what Robin told him and how she wanted to be sure I researched all of the plants that Miss Lotties Farm has, prior to making any teas from the leaves. This woman obviously did not know I had a 10 degree PhD from Google University!!!

It took several day’s to finally sit and research and actually make the tea. After day 1 of drinking the tea, I was pissed at myself that I did not make the tea sooner! Although it did not fully expel my pain, it allowed for several hours of uninterrupted sleep. About a week or so after their initial meeting Robin did the one best customer service move, she reached out to both of us personally to see how things were going.  After finding her email and speaking to her for several days, we set up a face to face meet and greet. There was no way I would keep this information to myself if it actually worked but I had to be sure that I went to the farm personally and legitimized the process before sharing it with all of you!

*See peeps, I have your back. Always know I will never put something out there that I have not tried personally.*

So back to the top. Myself and a friend drove the 45 minutes or so from my home to Miss Lotties Farm. The farm itself sits on the land just behind their home, which is actually their back yard but it’s to big to constitute as a “back yard” more like a back half of a football field. Before even getting out of the car completely, I already felt welcomed. We were greeted by Robin and Ron standing at their door, and ushering us in to their beautiful home. We quickly sat on their couches and without hesitation Robin says, “I do not know much about Lupus, what is Lupus?”. I respected that she did not attempt to hide behind some Web MD facts, or some hear say. She gave me the opportunity to do what many don’t, explain that it’s not a one size fits all disease!

After a nice conversation, we were ushered outside to what was the most beautiful sight. Rows and rows of healing possibilities just outside the confines of their porch. Now, Miss Lotties Farm carries three types of trees, Anamu, Moringa, and SourSop. Both Robin and Ron walked with us and discussed the inner workings of the farm and how it came to be. We were shown to the edge of the farm and were explained the plants, the way they run the farm, and the inner functionalities of each plant they have. Not once did Robin or Ron pretend they knew everything there is to know about healing alternatives, but for just starting the farm 14 months ago they were well versed in positivity and finding natural ways to heal the ailments. They both shared several amazing stories about how the plants helped people and you know what made me smile most? The fact that telling the stories brought such amazing smiles to both of their faces. Listening to both of them and visiting the farm cemented what I already knew. It cemented that these guys were not doing this for the money or notoriety, they were in the business of helping people and they took immense pride in this.

As the visit was coming to an end, I was almost saddened that I had to leave. I felt as though I had made friends for life. I left with a bag of each plant leaves and promised them I would return soon. On my way hope I went over the day’s events and smiled at the endless possibilities. I looked down at my packages and swore to my body I would do whatever it took to heal it.

Many of you out there know that sleep deprivation is one of the top complaints from someone with a Chronic Illness. I have made tea from Soursop leaves and have to say… I have slept every night I have had the tea, and I mean slept! For someone who was so very skeptical, I am a believer! Although, I still approach every situation with a skeptical eye because remember “If I can’t trust my body, how am I supposed to trust anything else?” Christina Gorgon.

I hope if any of you get anything from this, it’s to do some research on some natural alternatives. If you decide to order from Miss Lotties Farm, know that I have personally gone there and what you will get from them is nothing short of stellar!

Heres to kicking Lupus or your chronic illnesses ass!

XOXO,

Undefeated Diva!

 

Some Information:

 

Electrical Company Mentioned:

Technical Edge Electric:

http://technicaledgeinc.com/about-technical-edge-inc-electrical-contractors/

 

A small snippet of how Miss Lotties Farm came to be:

“January 2013 our 8 year old great niece Lottie had some health issues, so her mother put her on herbal supplements. Although they were purchased from a supplier’s website outside the United States, she made some improvements. Our family had some concerns regarding the quality of the herbs, such as how and where they were being grown and processed. ”

 

For the rest of the story, please visit:

Miss Lotties Website:

http://www.misslottiesfarm.com

You can also get up to date information at:

Miss Lotties Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Miss-Lotties-Farm/1441952372724251

 

Below I have included a small bio for two of the three plants at Miss Lotties Farm:

Anamu:

ANAMU
HERBAL PROPERTIES AND ACTIONS
Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
  • reduces pain
  • reduces spasms
Whole herb
  • kills bacteria
  • reduces anxiety
Infusion: 1/4 to 1/2 cup 2-3
  • kills cancer cells
  • reduces fever
times daily
  • kills fungi
  • lowers blood sugar
Capsules: 1-3 g daily
  • reduces inflammation
  • kills insects
  • kills leukemia cells
  • promotes menstruation
  • reduces free radicals
  • sedates
  • prevents tumors
  • increases perspiration
  • kills viruses
  • expels worms
  • kills Candida
 
  • increases urination
 
  • enhances immunity
 

 

SourSop:

Family: Annonaceae
Genus: Annona
Species: muricata
Synonyms: Annona macrocarpa, A. bonplandiana, A. cearensis, Guanabanus muricatus
Common names: Graviola, soursop, Brazilian paw paw, guanábana, guanábano, guanavana, guanaba, corossol épineux, huanaba, toge-banreisi, durian benggala, nangka blanda, cachiman épineux
Part Used: Leaves, fruit, seeds, bark, roots

From The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs:

 

GRAVIOLA
HERBAL PROPERTIES AND ACTIONS
Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
  • kills cancer cells
  • relieves depression
Leaves
  • slows tumor growth
  • reduces spasms
Infusion: 1 cup 3 times daily
  • kills bacteria
  • kills viruses
Tincture: 2-4 ml 3 times daily
  • kills parasites
  • reduces fever
Capsules: 2 g 3 times daily
  • reduces blood pressure
  • expels worms
  • lowers heart rate
  • stimulates digestion
  • dilates blood vessels
  • stops convulsions
  • sedates

Rob, Myself, and Ron

IMG_0203

 

The 26th mile…

I try to be grateful for the abundance of the blessings that I have, for the journey that I’m on and to relish each day as a gift.

Thud Thud Thud… Breath Breath Breath…
Sweat beading down my face, the air at my back. The blissful pain in my calves. The fire of another breath of air filling my lungs. The cramping in my side because I had too much water before I started. The sound of the internal thoughts and feelings running through your mind. Do you hear it? The pounding of the pavement? It’s invigorating…

I have always had an affinity for running, although the time has come in my life that I can no longer partake. In my teens I would run to stay in shape for whatever activity my beautiful ADD would obsessive over at the time. It was an amazing release! This was of course the time before iPods existed, if most can actually remember those days. Of course to carry a walkman while running was just not acceptable bulkiness, nevertheless it allowed me to become one with my emotions and my thoughts. Often times I was running around a track or down a trail either leading or following a team of girls, but honestly even back then I knew I was far beyond the mindset of the young ladies I was running with. While many worried about prom and cliques, I worried about my family and what I would amount to in life. Now, that is not to say I didn’t indulge in my formative teenage years, but anyone will tell you I was a unique mindset even then.

I have always wanted to run a marathon, more so for myself and whichever beautiful cause I was supporting at the time. I have always wondered what that last .2 miles must feel like (YES I AM AWARE A MARATHON IS NORMALLY 26 MILES AND 385YARDS, Which normally equals to 26.2 miles give or take). I have always wanted to run and know what the feeling of crossing that finish line was like. To be able to collapse to my knees and thank the lord for giving me the energy to do it. All in all a beautiful vision/ dream of mine. Knowing my family they would be there at the finish line with Wipes, TONS of water, gatorade, bananas, and last but most importantly LOTS OF HUGS AND KISSES! I would know my family was there because we are loud and we show support and love much louder than most! There would be signs and bullhorns and extra TLC at every turn.

In the recent months, and honestly since I was diagnosed with Lupus I have seen my life as a journey. I will say that the recent months though have taught me a great deal. I wasn’t allowing the journey of my life to take shape, because I wanted to control it at every turn I saw fit. If something wasn’t right, I needed to put my spin on it. I awoke myself recently in the middle of the night, covered in sweat and emotional pain that would rival most of my Lupus flares. In those moments of tears and raw pain seared emotions I realized that I wasn’t allowing things to create it’s own journey. It’s very hard for someone like me that is used to taking care of things or being the one people depend on, to not fix things. Control freak? Maybe…. Type A personality? Probably… Warrior? HELL YES!

I have used my Lupus as a weapon, which in reality is not healthy but necessary. It’s not healthy because using it as a weapon is a crutch but it is necessary for the warrior in me never to give up. Can you see I am fighting a conundrum? So I sit and I write…

I have since started allowing life’s journey to form in front of me, although never allowing it to slip from my grasp and placing the flare I so often do on things. I go back to my metaphor… Thud Thud Thud… Breath in and out… Heart rate elevated… sweat beating down my face, back, and legs… The metaphor for running for me is my current state in my journey. I feel the earth below me moving and although it is still there is a vibration in it for me. Have you ever felt your journey taking shape? Have you ever stopped for just a moment and felt life shift ever so slightly under you?

My current view in life… is just that! I feel as though I am running a marathon and I am in the home stretch, I see the finish line to the journey I am on but do not see the rest. I feel like the journey I am on is going to come to an end , but there is something so amazing about to open up. As if the next journey’s light is shining so brightly I can feel it before I even hit this journeys finish line. So here I am journey… Running… I am in the last .2 stretch of this marathon and I am gearing up for the next…

I am hoping for lots of love, laughter, and amazing energy!!!!

XOXO,

UD

Even the fiery advocate gets tired…

Man has got to know his limitations. Clint Eastwood

“Oh you look better”, “you don’t look sick”… Or the ever agonizing look of pity or question of whether you are faking it…

I was ashamed of myself when I walked out of the doors of my school today. Sunglasses on, bags on my shoulders, I just left after what should have been me waiting to speak to my advisor. See, because even the fiery advocates get tired of advocating sometimes.

Unfortunately, this semester of college has been one of my toughest. I have been in the middle of a flare up of epic proportions. Although I have my good days, those have been farther and farther apart. The good days are actually bad day’s that I have medicated myself, slept for 2 days prior to them, yet still take 2 hours to get dressed. Often times I wonder if I will even make it to class most Wednesdays, never really thinking about the on-line classes I can’t seem to wrap my brain around due to the epic brain fog. Today I had the option of sitting with my advisor, which happens to also be a current professor of mine. I sat while she spoke to another student and then it hit me. I have fallen behind in her class and here I was going to sit in front of her and discuss my future. Although my face had make-up on (miracles do happen), I was put together, and standing upright she could not see the turmoil and pain I was in. The impending migraine that was threatening a night of torture and the fact that the sheer touch of my shirt to my skin felt like shards of glass. Nor would she be able to tell that my body was threatening me with the possibility of passing out from the dizziness I have had for two days. So as I sat there and watched her speak to another student, I made the decision I was allowed to say I AM DONE… for the day and leave. For a natural born advocate like myself, it was a realization. The realization that I had “given in” to the pressure of stigma, that I talked myself into walking out when I hadn’t even given her the chance to talk to me. What I did do though, was show myself that I know my limits!

Every person has their limits. Today, I knew that I had reached mine. I knew that a look from her or too many questions would have turned me into an angry and defensive me. I would have been no advocate at all, I would have been a stereotype… So I left. As I felt defeat walking out the door, I felt no more as I drove over the beautiful bridge met by sunshine and clear waters in my town. I knew I had done the right thing, which was advocate to myself and for myself that today was not the day.

So the lesson for today… Is even the strongest of us advocates gives in. Sometimes it’s ok not to “advocate”, if you know that really you are causing more harm than advocacy.

XOXO,
Tired Undefeated Diva

An original made out of anger!

I present to you…. My future t-shirt for Team Undefeated Divas!

I have decided to trademark it for the future use of Lupus Awareness!

I present… AINT NOBODY GOT SPOONS FOR THAT!

20140523-123951-45591707.jpg

Have to admit, this hysterical creation was manifested out of a heated moment. I was feeling very overwhelmed by what I call a “lupus moment” and I yelled…. Shut up, AIN’T NO BODY GOT SPOONS FOR THAT RIGHT NOW!!!! In the moment I was angry and very serious… but all it took was 30 seconds to realize what I said and burst out in immense laughter.

It seems that all of my best creations are created out of madness :). So here you go.

Xoxo,
Undefeated Diva

On Facebook

Technology and social media have brought power back to the people.
Mark McKinnon

Good Morning World and Happy Friday!

I hope that all of you are having a wonderful morning, noon, or night. I have been asked by a couple of my blog family members if I was on any social media and I was except for Facebook, that is until now. If you ask you shall receive:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Undefeated-Diva/1386807961561329

One of my blog family made a fantastic point, it is much easier to communicate via FB with anyone then it is to do so through my blog. So if you have some time come on over and show your support!

Thank you all for your support of my writing and my journey!

Much love on this Friday,
Undefeated Diva

Setbacks

I think whether you’re having setbacks or not, the role of a leader is to always display a winning attitude.
Colin Powell

2 weeks I tell you!
I never realized the severity of my pain, until it was longer present. The loving caress of modern medicine helped me achieve what I thought was impossible… a pain free life. Unfortunately today, just 2 weeks from the first blissful day I am suffering an epic setback.

Today is a 6 or 7 kind of day. In my house we go on a 0-10 scale for pain.
0-4- Is an amazing day. I can jump, run, and have energy that will carry me most of the day.
5-7- Rough… Swelling and pain accompanies most of my body. My body hurts to the touch and I have a bit of brain fog.
8-10- Debilitated. These are the days I drink my morning coffee out of a straw!

Today… Well I am a 6-7. Not truly terrible, but in enough pain to render me a bit useless this beautiful morning. This setback though, hurts more emotionally. Truthfully when you live with a chronic illness that is accompanied by chronic pain you learn to live with it. The pain and symptoms become a part of your daily life, so to be honest there comes a point that you forget what life was like prior to it all. The 13 days prior to today were amazing! I was able to climb a jungle gym, to stay awake for a 9pm show, and experience consecutive day’s of getting dressed with no pain or having to pick out an outfit that wasn’t difficult on my hands. On day one… I didn’t believe it, I walked around as if I was in pain just because I was fearful I may have been hallucinating! 🙂 Yes, quite a crazy concept but again I didn’t remember what life was like prior to all of the pain and hurt. By day 7 I was back to being the closest version of “me” I could remember. I was doing laundry, reorganizing my office, and banging out papers for school like if it were the easiest equation in a math book. I laughed a little harder and swore that I would live each day a little more now, which I thought was impossible since I am one to climb a tree if I feel compelled to.

What I hadn’t realized was that although I was “living my life to the fullest”, I was doing so in the realm of “pained Chris” not the real me. I always considered the repercussions of even a long shopping trip, or a longer drive to the pharmacy. So really was I living? or was I existing within the means I set forth for myself? Either way… I was alive again!!!! Today that feeling was setback, I won’t say crushed because it was real! I remember what it was like before the pain and anguish. I remembered what it was like to be able to be hugged and not cringe at the pain when someone was showing me love. I remembered what it was like to wake in the morning and not have to worry that I wouldn’t be able to do something as simple as brushing my teeth.

So setbacks… I love the quote above by Colin Powell, because in the end it’s my attitude that has gotten me this far. I was not delusional in my understanding that I would have bad day’s along the way, it’s part of the illness I live with. I won’t allow it to crush what I remember now, so thank you modern medicine for the reminder. I will be pushing to find that life again… to find the me before the pain.

Love, Peace, and Chicken Grease!
Undefeated Diva!

Flaws and All…

Song by Beyonce… Couldn’t of connected more with a song, recently…

Flaws And All

I’m a train wreck in the morning
I’m a bitch in the afternoon
Every now and then without warning
I can be really mean towards you
I’m a puzzle yes in deed
Ever complex in every way
And all the pieces aren’t even in the box
And yet, you see the picture clear as day.

[Chorus]
I don’t know why you love me
And that’s why I love you
You catch me when I fall
Accept me flaws and all
And that’s why I love you [3x]

I neglect you when I’m working
When I need attention I tend to nag
I’m a host of imperfection
And you see past all that
I’m a peasant by some standards
But in your eyes I’m a queen
You see potential in all my flaws
and that’s exactly what I mean.

[Chorus]
I don’t know why you love me
And that’s why I love you
You catch me when I fall
Accept me flaws and all
and that’s why I love you [3x]

[Repeat Chorus]