Friday, October 24, 2008

Plant Some Happiness

When I was young, I remember wanting to have a houseplant in my bedroom. My Mother and Grandmother were happy to oblige my request as long as I was the one watering it. I remember feeling so excited and proud that I was old enough to be able to tend to this little ivy I picked out for my room.

As the weeks went by, I tried to give it everything it needed, but it wasn't fairing very well in my room because of the lack of sun. I had a north facing window and that can be a death sentence to plants that require moderate to full sun. So, my Mother placed the little plant near a better window in the family room and it lasted for a bit of time there until some white flies got a hold of it. I was devastated and swore off gardening for years after that incident.

Many years went by and a friend of mine tried to persuade me into taking up indoor gardening again once I was settled in an apartment with full sun. I told her of my sad ordeal and how I never wanted to go back to gardening again due to my "black" thumb. She decided that she wasn't going to take no for an answer from me and gave me two spider plants as a gift one day.

Well, even though I was hesitant, I graciously took those plants into my home and gave them a nice comfortable spot near my kitchen window. These plants grew very well, in fact so well, that they are still alive today and have produced many, many offspring that I've proudly raised and given as gifts to other people.

These two plants were the start of a beautiful relationship with anything that grows again and now my relationship has bloomed into flowering plants and even fruit and vegetable plants. I have experimented with so many that I will try to put anything in a pot to see if it will grow and I have my friend to thank for this beautiful gift that she has given me.

Now, you are probably wondering what this story, though lovely, has to do with Fibromyalgia. Well, the answer is plenty. Gardening, even if it's only done indoors, is a great stress reliever, and a great source of happiness. There is just something wonderful and humbling about getting your hands dirty. It can put your life into perspective. I feel that putting my hands in soil is like a metaphor in a sense because I'm putting energy and love into something to see if it will grow, just like I put energy and love into trying be fabulous despite my condition.

I touch on houseplants a bit in my book,
The Firbo Hand where I explain how plants can help you. But my self-discoveries are here in this blog. I hope this encourages some of you to try and plant some happiness for yourselves. Stay fabulous! And don't forget about the contest-- it's still going-- so keep commenting!

Love and friendship,


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Support System

Today's topic is about having a support system in family, friends, and even co-workers. This subject is very near and dear to me because it was the hardest thing for me to do. I'm very independent to a fault because I was used to being the one to help everyone else out. I was not used to being the one who asked for help.

There were days when I became very discouraged at what I couldn't do anymore. I tried very hard not to express any feelings of discouragement, but at those times, my close friends, co-workers, and family would somehow find a way to pry them out of me. They were all very patient with me and frankly, I'm not sure I'd be the person I am today if they were not so persistent with me.

See, the hard part for me was asking someone, like my husband for instance, to do something like open up a jar of pickles if I had no strength in my hands. I felt that if I was the one who wanted the pickles, I should be the one opening up the jar in the first place. Now, I know that using a jar of pickles as an analogy may seem a little weird to people, but it's a good analogy because it seems so trivial. And that's exactly how I felt when I was the one asking for help-- I thought that my asking was trivial.

But sometimes help can't wait a day, or two, or twenty when it comes to things like cooking a meal or even cleaning a kitchen or bathroom. It was at those times that I had to get past my trivial thinking and actually pursue help from those that cared about me.

What you need from people at any given time can range from moral support to someone making a pot of coffee for you. And sometimes the help won't be exactly what you are looking for-- like, say someone, who shall remain nameless,(he knows who he is) may for some reason decide to dry your delicate lingerie in the dryer so they are ready for you to wear that day. That may not seem like the greatest kind of help, but it is help and that is what you may need on those bad days when you can't walk-- let alone do laundry.

The lesson I've learned the most from all of this, is that communication is key to helping and healing not only yourself, but the person or people who want to help you too. Let them know what you need instead of being tip lipped. After all, they may want to love you back for all the good you've done for them. And that would be just fabulous-- wouldn't it?

Love and friendship,


Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Diet Debate

There are two studies out there stating that Fibro sufferers could gain relief from their symptoms by changing their diet to mostly raw vegetables, or in other words, going vegan. One study is from Finland and the other is from North Carolina and both had their subjects eat a diet rich in raw vegetables and low on salt for about three months.

These two studies are wonderful news because it shows that Fibromyalgia can be relieved naturally. I've always believed this, but I'm not a vegan. Don't get me wrong-- fruits and veggies are very important in the diet, but I also believe that the other food groups are just as important for optimal health. I try to incorporate a balance of every food group in all of my meals and I eat healthy snacks in between. But even though I eat meat, you may wonder if I've added or cut anything out of my diet to help to ease the pain. And I have, I've cut out what my oldest daughter and I call fake food. Fake food is food that has been altered by chemicals and/or refining. About 80 percent of the foods you find in the supermarket today have been altered in some way according to Christine Craggs-Hinton, author of Fibromyalgia, A Natural Approach. And frankly, I truly believe she's right because I've read the labels of most of the boxed and canned foods out there in the isles and a good majority are filled with chemical ingredients that I can't pronouce. But not all of the labels contain bad things and some of that boxed and canned stuff is actually real food. So how does this sufferer tell the difference without having to read War and Peace? Well, I went organic.

The word organic today is just another term for real food, as my oldest daughter and I put it. A lot of organic food isn't as expensive as one might think. I have found many products that are at a reasonable price at some regular supermarkets and some at organic food stores like Trader Joe's and even Whole Foods. Consumers are demanding better quality products and that's driving down some of the costs. Another thing that markets are doing to lower cost is buying from local farms to lower transportation costs which in turn lower the cost of the food. I go into great detail about good organic products to buy in my book The Fibro Hand, but a basic rule of thumb is to just read the labels. If the list of ingredients are long, chances are it isn't organic. Good meats are easily found by buying ones that contain no hormones. If it's chicken products like eggs or stock, the best kind to get are free-range. Free- range means that the animal was not locked up in a cage when it was laying eggs or when it was feeding itself-- in other words-- it's life was good. If you are looking for fish to buy, look for the wild caught instead of farm raised because the wild caught is healthier. Fruits and vegetables can be purchased inexpensively too. For instance, some fruits like bananas, have a casing that covers the fruit. Pesticides won't be able to penetrate this casing, so it is okay to go for the non-organic variety in this case.

Eating well is a lifestyle choice and it can help with your Fibro pain if you try to eliminate certain chemicals and preservatives. One can only hope that there will be further studies on the diet so we sufferers have more information to help us in managing our pain so we can be fabulous.

Love and friendship,


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