I was the one whose cup needed to be filled today. We had our monthly ladies gathering and usually I'm most comfortable in the hostess role, serving others, filling others cups. Today I didn't feel up to it. I couldn't really put my finger on it. I even hesitated on committing to the date for weeks and couldn't figure out why it was so hard for me to just settle on a date which usually takes only a few minutes to pick.
After sort of floating through the day, I got home I realized that it's the anniversary of when I got diagnosed with Crohn's disease. The body remembers even when the thinking brain doesn't. That was a tough day, a tough procedure, pain and starving for weeks, and ultimately getting really hard news.
It's been 4 years. I've done a LOT of emotional work to process so much of what led to my disease and the effects the disease had on my family. I am in a really good place. But trauma and painful memories are like layers of an onion. You can heal and then another layer becomes exposed to teach you something new.
To be raw with you for a second, the theme emerging from this layer of healing is vulnerability and openness to receive. I've always aimed to be self-sufficient, never needing help, never inconveniencing anyone, never appearing weak. That's a huge factor of what got me so deep into the sickness to begin with.
The Lord has been revealing this to me over the past few weeks that it's time to start allowing people in and not being so hard of heart towards receiving love and help from others. It seems like literally every time I've been in mass over the last few weeks they sing The Servant Song. It brings me to tears every time I hear it and I know the Holy Spirit is working hard on me right now. The kicker of the song is not only about serving others, but "Pray that I might have the grace to let you be my servant too."
That day there was an angel nurse who spoke so much life into me. I was crying about my diagnosis (only about 15 minutes out of anesthesia, which is also such a cruel time to be given such news!) I have no idea what she said, but she gave me apple juice and she poured light all over the darkness that I was fighting. She was right, whatever she said. I survived it all and I am feeling amazing and I am healed. I claim that healing. I also claim the healing that is still happening today and tomorrow and every single day within me, my family, and right now with my willingness to show others that I need them and I can't keep trying to have it all together all the time.
I write as part of my healing. When I sat down I thought this post was going to be about forgiveness. Forgiving myself for the pain that we all went through. Allowing my body to forgive. Finding peace. But this lesson that's been knocking at my door for the past month just seemed to emerge as I sat at the keyboard. The Holy Spirit is so amazing and literally pursues you with loving hugs and signs and encouragement while carrying you through the next transformation -- if you're open to it. It feels so insane sometimes how personalized the messages can feel and how they can just come out of nowhere. This is life in the Holy Spirit and I love every second of it.
I just learned about something called Peak Week. It's the third week in September, where the highest number of asthma attacks are experienced and reported.
It's a perfect storm of ragweed season being at its height, kids being back in school and passing all the germs around, and the stress of the fall routine changes catching up to us.
Being a former asthma sufferer, this discovery hit home for me. The fall was always tough for me. I suffered from allergies and asthma from about age 14 to 34. I had a smattering of attacks throughout the years, spent a decade on inhaled steriods, daily allergy meds, and a restricted diet to help manage it.
I really didn't get a handle on it until I adopted a more significant lifestyle change recently which significantly reduced toxins and irritants in my daily environment and also addressed the role that unprocessed emotions were playing in the picture. I use natural products to support myself now, and I am happily able to have an unrestricted diet, no meds, and a lot of natural energy.
I am so thankful that this is no longer an issue for me, and if I do have a rare unexpected flare up I have a whole arsenal of natural, God-given tools to support myself.
Prayers for all people experiencing the stress of respiratory diseases. I know how scary and debilitating it can be.
Here are some things I did to get a handle on it.
1. Switch to non-toxic products: Look at the labels on the products you're using in your home. So many of them contain ingredients which are very aggravating to the respiratory system and the gut among others. There are apps and websites available to help you navigate this. Check out my Natural Living post for what to look for and what to do about it.
2. Examine your emotional health: Grief is stored in the lungs. Take some time to explore if there are things that have happened in your life, not limited to the loss of a loved-one, which you have not gone through all of the stages of mourning over. For example, if something turned out different than you always dreamed ,of, you might need to mourn the loss of that dream. There are lots of other trapped emotional patterns that can contribute. There are ways to help your body and mind release trapped emotions, and I have been amazed at the impact that this has had on my overall welless. If you want to dive deeper into this, send me a message, I am working on sharing more about this in the coming months.
3. Work on your gut health: Our gut is critically important for our overall health. When we are exposed to chemicals and bad thought patterns for a long period of time, our body accumulates this and makes adaptations to do its best to continue operating. But, we might not be efficiently absorbing nutrients, or have a good balance of flora, or we might have inflammation that inhibits normal gut function. To get back into balance, you need to remove the irritants (like those noted in step 1 and 2) through natural detoxification methods and then provide abundant nutrients to help your body heal. It is possible to heal your gut and it will have a huge impact on all of your body systems. I am proof-perfect: 4 years ago I was in rough shape and was diagnosed with an Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Now, after concerted effort to do the things I am recommending, my gut is in great shape and it shows in my current health status; I'm in remission and feeling great, medication-free and happy!
4. Get a community of support: Loneliness can have a huge impact on our health. So can negative influence from those around us. It is so important to find a positive environment that can encourage you on your path to feeling well.
The best decision I made for my overall health was getting a Starter Kit from Young Living. I gained a supportive community to help coach me to make the changes I needed to make to feel better, and I gained hundreds of natural tools to support my body, mind and spirit for so many things. I cannot stop talking about this. If you have seen the change that has occurred in my life in the last 3 years, you know something is different, and this is one huuuuge factor in my ability to get a handle on my well being.
Breathe easy, friends.
I am so thankful for this journey. I’ve been doing this now for almost 2 years and what I’ve learned is that people get into oils for many different reasons:
🤧 To avoid days off from work and school 🤒
☠️ To get toxins out of the home 🕯🧼
😌 To help provide support for a specific thing they or a loved one is dealing with.
It is a beautiful thing to watch people go from addressing a couple of things in daily life to finding a deeper level of overall wellness in body and mind: myself included!
I got into oils for sleep. I had a 3 year old and we were struggling. What I quickly found was that I was able to climb out from the dark place I was in and find so much hope and light and freedom from so many things I had been carrying by tuning into my emotional wellness and the capabilities that essential oils have to offer.
The body and mind and soul are inextricably connected and I’ve learned so many things about the link between emotions and wellness.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without YL oils, Jesus, the tenacity in making the changes I needed to make to allow myself to let go of what wasn’t serving me, and this community and all of the resources that come along with it.
As a result of my life-changing experiences I have a passion is about emotional wellness, emotional release the body/mind/soul connection, and the healing power of Christ. I believe we cannot fully be well without balancing all of those things.
I have amassed a ton of knowledge on the subject and I am just leaning into where it will lead me next.
I recorded this video on Facebook to share my heart and gratitude for how far I've come, and rather than typing it all out, I just wanted to share with you here too.
I just love the adrenaline rush of a good deal. I am a consignment sale shopper and I always have to be there on the first day. I stalk all the deals for Black Friday and Presidents day. It's about frugality of course but it's also about getting in on something exclusive. It's a way to belong.
Truth be told I haven't always understood my own value. It is really really hard for me to justify buying things for myself. I would go shopping with friends and pick out things I liked but then talk myself out of them. Do I really need it? No? Probably not. While there aren't a lot of obvious flaws with this mindset-- I mean it's a great way to avoid overfilling your home with stuff, it also has some pitfalls. In the days when I was at my lowest, I even resisted going to the doctor because I didn't think I was worth spending the money on. I didn't think what I was going through was "bad enough". (Note - I had severe undiagnosed Crohn's disease at this point... it was bad enough.) I legit wasn't taking the needed care for myself because I didn't value myself and my needs.
The only reason I got myself to much-needed therapy was because of the EAP. This is a free employee assistance program that allows for several sessions of therapy. There, I started to realize that it's not healthy to have such low self-worth. It's not okay to hold yourself hostage. It's not good to put everyone first and neglect yourself. It IS OKAY to spend money on yourself, or to treat yourself, or to get what you need even if it seems "too expensive" or "frivolous."
All of this to say. I look at deal shopping very differently these days. Of course I am a pragmatist. One should always maximize the available to the best of their abilities, but I was literally denying myself any fulfillment of needs unless it was validated by a discount.
As if to say, I didn't feel "full price" I felt "discounted."
But, I was being too harsh in qualifying needs. I didn't consider self-care an actual legitimate need. It felt too indulgent to do things that could be more convenient if there was a cheaper (more challenging, harder, more time-consuming) alternative. It felt wrong to make choices that could improve my health or well-being, when those are literally the most important "things" to invest in. I had not considered how everything else is basically disposable but we have this one body and one mind and one family for this one life, and that its what really matters. And after going through that health crisis and coming out on the other side, I can finally see it. And now I am fanatical about it. And can't stop talking about it. Because when you discover a real truth, you can't hold it in.
The truth is, this is complicated. We have limited resources. We have lots of things to consider and prioritize. But the thing I am working the hardest on is recognizing my own worth, and the worth of others and practicing generosity to both. I think this can be a good rule to live by.
I had a 15-month-old, I had just started a job and my mother-in-law was staying with us to help with childcare because I was starting the job. I know now that the job was a blessing for that season because it gave me time to rest, it brought my MIL here help to us, and it gave me as purpose while I was struggling.
I had been in denial about how bad it was. I spent months in pain, not going to a GI which I was referred. Meanwhile I was losing weight, spending most days in bed, and was becoming more and more unwell emotionally and physically.
I finally got myself to the GI. He was very arrogant and quick with me and walked out the door while I was still talking to him. He was disrespectful about the fact that I was breastfeeding. It was going to be a month wait for an endoscopy/colonoscopy and I muttered a curse word under my breath because I didn’t think I could make it much longer without some help. The receptionist scolded me but gave me an earlier appointment.
I was so weak at that point. I was so scared. After the scope the doctor quickly and curtly delivered the news that I had Crohn’s, prescribed a bunch of steroids and sent me home with a pack of papers. As I was processing it and crying, and angel of a nurse spoke some kind hopeful words. Ones that I could barely hold on to, but they were a tiny beacon of light among all of the other scary things swirling around.
The steroids worked and helped take the pain away and helped bring my appetite back. I could pretend that I wasn’t so sick, but I wasn’t really able to process anything. All I knew was that I didn’t trust that doctor because he didn’t respect me.
I had continued breastfeeding my son through all of this, 15 pounds down from my regular weight, probably a drop of 25 pounds from a year prior. I clung to nursing because I had had to relinquish so much of the parenting and home-making and mothering to my MIL, which was heartbreaking. My son at this point was learning to talk and he was speaking exclusively Hakka because he spent all his time with his grandma. I know it was an absolute blessing that she was here, but it was so humbling to have to let go of so much control and to not be able to be present for my son and my husband because I spent so much time in bed in pain.
Breastfeeding was a major point of contention with my GI (and so many others). People were so inconvenienced by the fact that I was continuing to breastfeed, and I was incredibly defensive and combative about it. I did not want to give that up because it was all I had left, I felt. It was something I could provide my son that no one else could and I desperately needed that. And I believe my son did too.
Finally, he referred me to the Crohn’s and Colitis GI Center at University of Miami, saying that they could advise me on what treatment I could undergo while continuing to nurse. I am proud of myself for standing firm on this. There is such a lack of education and awareness in the medical community about breastfeeding safety and they are all prone to advise and even bully into weaning even when it’s not necessary because it is in the institution’s best interest, not the mother’s/baby’s.
My new GI was a good match. He was kind and patient and understanding. I needed a gentle voice. I felt so broken and scared and in denial. I was very intimidated by the treatment options. I had my guards up. It was easier to continue to suffer than to jump into the unknown of the scary injections, infusions, anti-tumor-necrosis-factor biologic and chemotherapy drugs. He listened and helped me begin to accept my disease.
I underwent 3 iron infusions, 4 months of biologic injections, daily steroids, and ongoing chemotherapy drug use as well as 2 MRIs, 2 X-Rays, and 2 more endoscopies and colonoscopies. Every time I would taper off the steroids, the pain would come back. After a year since the initial diagnosis we determined that there was a portion of my bowel that was too diseased to heal and it needed to be removed.
I was referred to surgery and the peace finally came over me. I had felt so tossed about by the sea of this disease. While I was suffering I felt so desperate for God, calling out to him, knowing he was present but not being able to feel much of his presence. I know he was with me and was provisioning for me during this time. I know that this suffering was necessary for a greater purpose. I know it was meant to draw me closer to Him. I was being conditioned to let others help me. I was being conditioned to trust in other people. I was being conditioned to let go of control. I was learning what it is like to suffer so that I have compassion on those who are suffering. I was learning how to sacrifice. I was learning how to advocate for myself.
I am still learning these things.
I'm Lisa Yau, thanks for stopping by!