Glutened AGAIN with Celiac Disease

o-dawsons-creek-reunion-facebook

Anyone who’s known chronic illness knows it’s nothing easy to deal with.  Life’s fine one day, maybe you even feel on top of the world, but then, “Bam!”  You’re knocked down again with gusto, and you’re either forced to drag your butt out of bed and go to work, or lay down for the next who-knows-how-long.

I have never been officially diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  I was recently told by a doctor that I would need to begin eating gluten regularly for them to get an accurate result.  My thought:  he must have no clue how bad my life becomes or he would never suggest such a course of action.

This time I’ve been fortunate: I have a wonderful boyfriend who goes to the grocery store for me and cooks us allergen-free meals (thank you for being awesome, Kevin); I also have some time off over the holidays to sleep and lay on the couch. Thank goodness!

To fill in this picture, I must explain that gluten is not my only allergy or health issue.  Thanks to Leaky Gut Syndrome, I’ve also been diagnosed (by a blood test) with allergies to dairy, eggs, beans, ginger, coffee, quinoa, stevia, nitrates/nitrites, etc.

Anyone with intestinal issues is probably familiar with Leaky Gut, but if you’re not it’s helpful to know that it is characterized by tiny holes in your intestinal lining that allow small bits of food into your bloodstream which your body then attacks as foreign invaders – hence the additional food allergies that can come with Leaky Gut.

I’ve found that when I’m “glutened” (when I accidentally consume gluten), I not only have awful symptoms from eating gluten, such as severe fatigue, brain fog, abdominal pain, anxiety (yes, anxiety!), slurred speech, bloating, constipation, etc. On top of all that I often seem to develop Leaky Gut and Candida Overgrowth (an overabundance of yeast) at the same time.  So not only am I sick from the gluten, but my immune system is on high alert with any food intake and I have to avoid as much sugar – even natural sugar – as possible to not feed the yeast that so quickly populate my gut due to the imbalance in my intestinal health. Furthermore, sometimes it takes me MONTHS to feel healthy again.  Months!  Ugh.  I’m sure some of you know my pain.  And if so, I am so sorry!

To heal as quickly as possible in times like these I have to eat an anti-inflammatory, allergen-free, low-sugar diet that typically consists of bone broth, cooked (and sometimes raw) veggies, NO grains, occasional low sugar fruit, fish and tea.  OMG – this sucks!

HOWEVER, I am deeply grateful that after having been gluten free for 12 years that I am privileged to know what good health is and how to find it without prescription medication.  I am so grateful that I’ve found natural ways of taking care of and healing my body:  making good food choices, visiting affordable community acupuncture clinics, giving self massage and stretching, meditation, sleep, and being surrounded by positive people and things (my cat – LOL – is in fact a huge help).

That said, this is such a pain in the a**!!!  I can’t believe I’m sick AGAIN.  And I would love to feel better, like now.  I keep sending my body love and light, thanking it for taking such good care of me, and imagining that the illness is lifting from my body easily, gently and quickly.  I pray that it is so.

In the meantime, I’m posting this blog in case anyone out there deals with chronic disease and wants to chime in.  It’s always so nice to know that I’m not alone and we’re not alone.

So, do you struggle with illness or disability?  Perhaps it’s something that most people don’t even know you deal with… If so, I’d love to hear what you’re dealing with and how you keep your chin up when it can take so long to feel better.  Please add your comments below.

Thanks for reading and sharing!

With love, Kimberly

Desert Musing

desert

Sometime ago when I wasn’t crying,
when the world as I knew it wasn’t falling apart,
I heard a voice say, “We are the champions, my friend.”

Okay, maybe it was actually the band Queen;
But aren’t we?

Like the heroes from stories and legends of time past,
we seek, we fall, we leave home for a new land of silence and insecurity.

We battle ourselves, lose ourselves, encounter darkness and demons of all kinds,
fall again and finally withdraw into stillness
to know that we are and to drink from the waters of life.

I have sought and Grace has provided genuine teachers and profound teachings for the journey home;
and still I reside in the desert.

Into Forever (with gratitude for those I love)

Cliff Jumping by Katie Moyle

So far away friends seem,
yet like a favorite pair of jeans the fit is always a comfy,
welcome sigh of relief.

One day – maybe today – when I am calm inside
and the sparkles of life shimmer up the spine and out of this heart again,
I will call them by name and they will be with me.

All of them simultaneously – a brood of strong babes (and some dudes)
and we will sing.
Yes, we will hold hands and sing.

They will know that I love them. There will never be another doubt.
Hurt feelings will lift and dissipate.
Our spirits will unite.

I will be there for them like never before.
It will be enough.
And they will know…

Long have I lived in shadow and fear,
but it is time for darkness to pass.

One bounding leap, a launch into the abyss – into light, into forever –
we will take together
and my friends will know they have always been with me.
One, two…

Pirates

Pirates have stolen my identity.

A world of chaos settles in,
a storm of my own creation.

The wind blows, the ropes creak, but I am at home on the sea.

Wind in my face, I am home on the sea.

Bravery’s Heart Song

[a heart beats]

What it’s like to be me?
To be me, to be me

Who is this me that flows through me?
To see me, to be me

I speak with words that aren’t my own in a pitch too high for comfort.
To be me, to see me

Why can’t I be myself?
Believe me, conceive me

Each interaction, every glance:
A scared me, unsure me

Every day, another chance
To be me, so lovely

For God is with me every step
Aware of me, within me

[heart stops]

But what’ll it take to stop the ego?
How can I live within the Flow?
How can I accept        resistance?

[heart beats]

How can I help you to see you?
To be you, to see you

Who is this you that flows through you?
Know you, be you.

Speak with words that are your own in a voice from deep within.
Be you, know you.

How can you be yourself?
Like you, believe in you.

Each interaction, every glance:
A better you, a real you.

Every day, another chance
To be you, so brave and true.

Thoughts fly in, feelings fly out.
Let them be – merely energy.

A heart on fire will soon blow out.
Don’t be afraid, to let it be.

Shh, Listen.

You can do this.
We can do this.

Let it be.
Just let it be.

I can do this.
We can do this.

Let it be.
Let it be.

Let it be.
Let it be.

Let

it

be.

Glow

Suppose it wasn’t night and all the faeries weren’t hiding.
Suppose magic and miracles, rainbows and unicorns were commonplace.

Suppose you never had to leave Home – maybe not the one you grew up in, but the one you’ll return to…

And suppose no one was ever mean
and your fingertips never felt the sting of a flame.

A world where all is one, where darkness and light are the same
is where I would find you, where you would find me.

Heaven turns vastness into small bits of “reality” where people
think and feel and know…  that they think and feel and know.

It’s odd that we should forget our sacred beginnings when there’s so much light here, too.
Isn’t there a time, even once, that you witnessed a miracle?

A challenge to myself and the world:
Can we remember our sacred beginnings?
Can we remember the promise of one world, one people?

It is into darkness that God sends his champions.
We must remember this
for it is time to GLOW.

Daybreak

woodland sunrise

Buildings, flowers,
rolling hills of green;
nighttime sweeps the hours
to a brilliant yellow morning

Eyes see me – sort of
Ears hear me – sort of

We are not our thoughts;
We are not our feelings, entrapments, dark holes or excuses.

Heaven, that vast oasis,
is never anywhere other than here.

As day breaks
celestial bodies in the sky – planets, stars, comets, galaxies, debris – float about.
Children will go to school,
lovers will fight and re-unite,
kitties and puppies will wait for us to return home,
battles will be fought and won, or lost.

Whatever happens there is a world within that permeates and animates,
an inner divinity that knows no separation.

So, with a nod to the Sacred,
I’ll get up this morning with love in my heart,
brush teeth,
drink tea,
quiet the mind in silent devotion
and go to work in a building surrounded by dandelions.

“It is only through samsara that we find nirvana.” – Adyashanti quoting his teacher

My Journey to Tibet, Part II

Have you ever noticed that often the most generous, happiest people are those who have “nothing”?  I found that was especially true of Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns.

But how could they be happy when their friends and families had been murdered,  jailed or exiled; their homes destroyed; ruled by a government that prohibits basic human rights?

Spring 2007

She held my hand as we walked into the temple.  We had just met, but the beautiful lady with the saffron robes and shaved head eagerly grabbed my hand as if we were playmates at recess.  She gestured for me to sit next to her in the large meditation room where there sat a few dozen Tibetan Buddhist nuns ready to chant.

It was an odd picture, to be sure.  A spattering of travel-clad westerners sitting, holding hands, with these bubbly Tibetan women in simple, maroon robes.  The moment’s initial beauty was the tacit assumption that we westerners belonged there and that we were all old friends.  And then the chanting began.

To say I cried would be an understatement.  I wept.  My heart broke open and tears of joy and relief, sadness and hope spilled out into the room…  I had found my way Home.

It wasn’t that I needed to stay there with these lovely women.  It was the example they lived – the utter joy and simplicity of it all –  that I knew was bursting to come out of me!

Is there anything waiting to burst out of you? (And no, I don’t mean a bowel movement.) 

I had always been too happy for people, too friendly, too “deep”.  So I had toned it down.  Day after day living a kind-of half truth.  I thought that if I could make other people comfortable, it would bring me joy.  But these brave women showed me that it was, in fact, the opposite:  Only when I embraced the joy within me, could I possibly help to comfort others.

We didn’t speak the same verbal language, but we understood each other perfectly and I would never be the same again.  For I had learned I wasn’t alone.

Present Day

Seven years later on the other side of the world in a safe suburb of Kansas City, I’m still coming out of the spiritual closet.  I know so much about faith and finding serenity, yet it can be hard to be content.  Though uncomfortable, I think this discontent is actually good for me at times.  Particularly because it led me here – to openly share my truth in the spirit of connecting with others.

What is your truth?  Are you living it?

Thank God for the chance I had to witness those who seemingly have next to nothing, yet have everything.  They showed me the way.

Serenity 

Serenity is yours.
When chaos looms seek the sweet
surrender of simplicity.
Gaze above at the glassy sky,
feel each blade of green
beneath your feet,
listen to the sound of faith
like a reed flute playing
inside your chest.
Breathe.
Stand in witness of
your true nature.
Remember the compassion
of the lover’s eyes,
the calm wisdom of
the elder’s voice.
Go within.  Be at rest without.
Fall to your knees in gratitude.
You have all you need.
Turn from the riot of distraction.
Let it roll over and beyond you.
Serenity is yours.
It lives always within your reach.

– Ching Qu Lam

Our trip leader, Maureen St. Germain, with the kindest, happiest people I’ve ever met.

Baby Goats and Monks with Kittens, as promised in Part I

Visiting the Potala Palace, the former seat of the Tibetan government and residence of the Dalai Lama, was bittersweet, but apparently it remains in good hands.  While roaming the grand palace I noticed a guard dressed in all black petting a tiny, purring kitten.  But this guard was no ordinary man.  He radiated so much joy and peace that his presence froze me in my tracks with my mouth open in a stupefied gaze.  It turns out my instincts were right:  when the gates of tourism were re-opened, China hired monks to be the janitors and guards of the palace.

As for the goats, they really were adorable.

The Four Immeasureables

May all beings be endowed with happiness;

May all beings be free from suffering;

May all beings never be separated from happiness;

and may all beings abide in equanimity, undisturbed by the eight worldly concerns.

For as long as space endures, and for as long as living beings remain,

until then may we, too, abide to dispel the misery of the world.

– Rime Buddhist Center’s “A Buddhist Service” guide

My Journey to Tibet, Part I

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”  J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

I actually took the picture below.  It was hard to get it wrong…

Since 1951, China’s occupation of Tibet has killed an estimated 1.2 million Tibetans (1/5 of their population) and forced over 100,000 Tibetans into exile.  Six thousand monasteries and historic buildings were destroyed.  And an indigenous culture steeped in Buddhism was scattered to the winds with its people.

A Buddhist Allegory

There was once a farmer whose horse ran away.  His neighbors lamented his “bad luck”, but the farmer merely shrugged his shoulders.  The next morning the farmer awoke to find his horse had returned with three wild horses.  His neighbors rejoiced, but the farmer was unmoved.  When the farmer’s son began to ride one of the wild horses he fell off and broke his leg.  The neighbors lamented; the farmer shrugged his shoulders.  The next day all able-bodied young men in the village were drafted into the army, but the son’s leg was broken and he was was unable to go.  The neighbors rejoiced and the farmer again shrugged his shoulders.

Equanimity, or the ability to be even-tempered, is a virtue long encouraged by Buddhists and its application would be well used here.  Though a people and its history were uprooted by violence, these very atrocities opened the world to a philosophy of living largely unexplored and beckoned many of us eastward… and inward.  The Buddhist culture reached me during my Freshman year of college in Seattle, Washington.  Six years later, I found myself on an unexpected journey with a group of companions I’d never met to visit the Rooftop of the World…

Please stay tuned for Part II where I’ll be talking about baby goats, monks with kittens and a visit with Tibetan Buddhist nuns that changed my life forever.

Wind-whipped prayer flags on a Himalayan mountain pass.

 

 

what my a** looks like is none of my business

FreedomSign 

I once heard a comedian say, “What my ass looks like is none of my business.  There’s a reason God put it behind me.”

Like most youth around the world, I grew up in a culture where external beauty mattered and was clearly defined.  In my culture, beauty was determined by thinness, the symmetry of one’s face and nice teeth.  External beauty got you friends, boyfriends and an easy confidence.  It also spoke of sameness, a sense of belonging and importance.  If you were different, life could be a rough road.  And so… most of my days were spent trying to fit in, trying to be “normal”.

“My darling girl, when are you going to realize that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage! ” Practical Magic

It was on one of those rough roads when my differences turned to depression.  In a culture where self-worth is largely defined by external beauty I found myself asking an incessant series of questions about my body.  You know the questions:

  • Why is [insert body part] not the right size?
  • Why is my head so small and my face so big? (Seriously, this was one of my questions.)

This self-depreciating effort was combined with media and commerce bent on lowering my self esteem to increase profits.  Have you ever looked at your skin in a magnified mirror?  WTF?  It makes small dark pores look like international conflicts, thus making us want to buy clear pore strips.  Whose bright idea was the magnified mirror?  Someone who wanted us to buy it.

The good news about hard times is that with optimism and perseverance you can have breakthroughs.  With help from books like Love is Letting Go of Fear and Letting Go, one begins to see one’s own beauty as intrinsic and permanent.  The incessant worrying, tummy-sucking-in and posturing can be laid to rest.  It’s no longer necessary to be angry at advertisements with emaciated models or a system that emphasizes what you may lack to get you to buy things.  At some point in life, you start to see yourself from the inside out.  And you just know you are beautiful and worthy of love, and nothing external can ever change that.  And on PMS-y days when you feel ugly or unworthy, you laugh and remind yourself that we are not who we have been trained to think we are.  We are spiritual beings having a human experience – not the other way around.

A few years back I overhead a Christian radio show that asked its listeners:  What would you see if when you looked in the mirror you could see yourself as God sees you?

And? What do you see?

Here’s a nice little article to remind you you’re beautiful and that there is no right way to be beautiful:  Ideal Body Types in 9 Countries 

And lastly, my go-to mantra if a PMS pity party starts to form:  I am holy as we are all holy.  Everything’s just as it should be.  I’m already Home. 🙂