My Hummingbird Story

A couple of months ago, I was having a disagreement with my sister about why we haven’t talked as much lately. When I stopped in the middle and told her I just saw a hummingbird fly up to the deck. It was the first one I’d seen at the house. My sister suggested we just talk now since we both wanted to talk more often, so we decided to video chat. She told me right after I said I saw a hummingbird; she saw one too. Since we are both working on healing, as we both heal, our relationship with each other can also improve. I felt it was a sign that we are both coming far on our healing journeys. Hummingbirds do signify healing after all.

A couple of weeks later, I was sitting on my back deck, thinking about how determined I was to continue my healing journey. I was still having massive health issues, interfering with my daily life. I was also having massive doubts that I would ever be able to get better leaving me feeling hopeless, stressed, exhausted, and depressed. All of a sudden, a hummingbird flew up directly in front of my face. Looked right at me, steadying itself there for a few seconds, then flew away. I thought about how I’ve had signs and synchronicities before from animals, how I’ve always felt very connected to animals. The word shaman popped in my head. Maybe I can learn about shamanism to further help my healing. I googled “studying shamanism.” The school that came up had a hummingbird on the main page. “Wow,” I thought, “there must be something to this.” Hummingbirds also symbolize messengers from the spirit world.

I bought a course on shamanism, and I learned that the hummingbird is one of the symbols in shamanism, in particular, it coincides with the solar plexus chakra. Over the course of the next month the hummingbird visited many times (over a dozen). It even came up to the window of my office when I was working inside one day, looked right at me, flying up against the glass for about ten seconds.

It flew right up to my face outside 2 or 3 more times over a few days, just to look at me. When I told my boyfriend about it, he said, “When is the hummingbird going to visit me?” Within thirty seconds it flew right up to his head as if on command, looked at him and flew away.

What a funny little creature the hummingbird is. One of beauty and grace. One of curiosity. Did I simply attract the hummingbird to me, by thinking about it, did I manifest it to return again and again? Did it sense my energy, my curiosity and love for it, making it like me, making it drawn to me? Or was it compelled to visit by someone in the spiritual realm? Did The Universe send it to me again and again as a sign? Maybe it was just a reminder that I have the power to heal myself. That my healing is coming.

Heavy Purple Chalk

By Melissa Marie Watson

Before I Die art exhibit in Chicago.

Eight years ago I came across an interactive street art exhibit, a giant chalkboard titled Before I Die. At the time, I was trying desperately to write a children’s book, spending hours a day painting, writing, designing, editing. I could never finish it; as a self-deprecating perfectionist it was never good enough. On the other hand, I was balancing the ups and downs of an abusive relationship. A person doesn’t get much more lost than that. It was the proverbial rock bottom and I had no idea how to claw myself out of the dirt. I thought it would surely smother me forever. I told myself the lie that I was in control and that I could leave anytime. In the meantime, it might get better. I know what I’m doing, and certainly I can and will leave if it doesn’t get better. I was playing Russian roulette with denial. 

When I saw this piece of art, it inspired me but I also felt unable to change my circumstances. I couldn’t possibly think of what to write on this chalkboard because I was so stuck, but I didn’t think I was strong enough to leave. What would I want to do before I die? I couldn’t bring myself to publish my book because of fear of it not being good enough. This weakness bled into every aspect of my life like poison, including my view of self. It was a crippling, dark cloud of fog, which engulfed me. It filled my lungs, making it difficult to breathe or speak. I wasn’t unbroken enough to fix things. I thought the brokenness was permanent. The chalk felt so heavy. It was like I could finally rewrite my future, change the trajectory, with this magical piece of purple chalk. I had to get this right. Then, I thought about the isolation I was feeling, the separation from others, the separation from self, and the agony of it all. I thought about self-discovery. 

No one will ever truly know you. Consider the depths in the story I’m telling now, how could anyone really know exactly what I felt or why I was there? And all of the experiences in my life that led me there, a multitude of trauma and the broken pieces of my heart. Or everything that I had to do to get away from it all. It’s a thousand stories that don’t even feel like they are mine. Because I was me before they even happened. They covered my identity like an invisibility cloak, leaving me gasping for air, for my voice. 

No one will ever truly know you. They know a part of you. And each person knows and connects with different parts of who you are. But the question is, do you know yourself? Hopefully, you immediately say, “Yes!” But how well do you know yourself? As we go through new experiences, we change. At times we get lost in dark crevices; we see ourselves doing things that don’t align with who we are. We get lost in the muck, feel ugly, unworthy, disconnected from self. We let others lower our feelings of self-worth.  Thus, beginning a cycle of confusion and lack of worthiness. These are the people who stand in the way of you and your true self. Maybe we seek them out when we are more afraid of our own monsters than the literal monster the wrong person will inevitably become. Somehow, we find a way to crawl out and escape. We dig in our fingernails really deep and claw our way out and we grow from it. If nothing else, we are stronger. If we don’t become too hardened, we may even grow wings! Even once hardened, we can soften again. We can heal. Through healing, we get to know ourselves on deeper levels and at greater magnitudes. Maybe we even change one day: Not in the dreaded way of losing the childhood self, but in a stunning way. We become a more evolved, glowing version of self. Maybe the key is remembering the childhood self, even after everything.

Then, there are the people who seem to belong in our lives. The beautiful thing about the people who belong, even though they do not know us the way we know ourselves, the truly important people strive to know us more deeply. That longing for understanding is one of the most meaningful connections in this Universe. What is a soul mate, or soul bird? Soul birds are the people we are deeply drawn to, whether family, friends, or lovers. They may never know us the way we know ourselves, but they know us much more deeply than anyone else. The most beautiful thing about a relationship with a soul bird is how that relationship can strengthen one’s relationship with self. Soul birds can become catalysts in self-discovery. They remind you of who you are, especially in moments of weakness. They can help you get in touch with different parts of yourself.  They can do this without either person even realizing it’s happening. Maybe soul birds were connected in a previous life or in a different dimension. Maybe somehow, they know you on a soul, pre-Earth level. Maybe we aren’t so disconnected, so independent, so separate, so alone. Maybe you are not an island. 

When met with that interactive art exhibit: Before I Die, I lifted that heavy piece of purple chalk, empowered, feeling a pang of strength light up my core; I wrote, “Before I die, I will discover my truest self in the Universe.” I knew it was the most important thing I could strive for. I knew I needed desperately to head in that direction. I just didn’t quite know how. That was easier for me to write than “Move out,” or “Get a new job,” “Move back home,” or “Leave him,” because I was simply frozen. If only I could discover my truest self, then the rest would make sense. I’d have the strength and confidence to fix all of the broken pieces of myself and my life. I could make sense of my life again.  

That piece of chalk gave me a voice when I was voiceless. I felt that others could read my words and hear my voice, somehow connecting me to the world again. Maybe they could feel the pain behind the letters. The tears behind the purple marks. Most of all I hoped they could feel the hope. I felt the intention was in the world now, in the city, in Chicago, in Lincoln Square on Ravenswood Ave. and Montrose. I had released it into the Universe, and it was floating like a bubble into the magical abundance. I knew the Universe would keep it until the day it would fly back to me like a powerful boomerang, coming into fruition, lighting up my sky like fireworks.

I was able to escape from that relationship thanks to a friend who helped me, a soul bird. She is one who has reminded me of my true self at times of weakness. Since then, I have trekked far and wide, covering endless ground. At the time I first wrote this, although I didn’t share it, I wasn’t there yet – I was still searching. But now fireworks beam in my sky and flash colors across my soul as I’m connected to my higher self again. I am connected to everything and everyone in The Universe on a deep and spiritual level. I’m no longer afraid of everything my soul wants to do and be in this life. Now that I’ve discovered my truest self in The Universe, I can pick up that chalk again and write anything I want. The possibilities for me are endless and it feels so, so good and so, so safe to be me. It feels so good to be home.

Motivation

An Indicator of Success

What is one of the top indicators of success in a person? Is it talent, education, socioeconomic status, social connections or intelligence? No, there is something that matters more.

One of the most important qualities in a person that leads to success is the ability to stay motivated. When I first learned this during my psych undergrad in my motivational psychology class, I was excited. This piece of info was very motivating to me. It made me feel like I could do anything. 

Motivation is more important than any other factor. And it makes sense. Motivation fuels perseverance. Without perseverance, it’s unlikely you will succeed.

So, how do you gain motivation? How do you stay motivated?

Here are a 10 things that have helped me:

  1. Fake it til you make it. No really! Some days you wake up and you just don’t feel it but how do you fake it? See #2 and #3.
  2. Practice self-discipline. This way, you will be used to working on your goal no matter how you feel.
  3. Create positive daily habits. These habits will help you to stay on track and to stay disciplined. 
  4. Know your “Why.” Why is this goal important to you? Your “Why” should be very motivating!
  5. Remind yourself of your “Why” often.
  6. Reward yourself. Take the time to reward yourself even for small steps toward your goal. Celebrate. Pat yourself on the back. Feel a sense of pride for sticking to it.
  7. Take time for self-care. This will help you to avoid burnout and to feel good. Taking care of yourself is a prerequisite for staying motivated. 
  8. Break your goals down into smaller goals and write them down. Cross them off as you reach them. Clarity will help you to stay motivated. And seeing the progress you’ve made is also motivating. 
  9. Reframe your perspective on setbacks. There are no real failures – only learning opportunities. Learn from it and move on and don’t beat yourself up!
  10. Practice gratitude. When you are thinking of all of the things in your life that you are grateful for, it changes your whole state of being. This state is a lot more conducive to cultivating motivation. 

Growth Mindset

What is a growth mindset? 

A growth mindset is the belief that you can learn and grow. You focus on your ability to learn new things rather than focusing on what you were born with. Maybe you weren’t naturally good at math, but it doesn’t matter because you can get better at it by studying. Maybe you feel you weren’t born intelligent, but that isn’t your focus, because you can gain intelligence by learning. Having a growth mindset simply means being focused on the idea that you can improve any skill and learn new things. Having a fixed mindset focuses on what you are good at and your innate talents and limitations. Someone with a fixed mindset may say, “I am just not naturally good at building things.” Then, they never try to learn to build things because they believe they just aren’t good at it.

Which One Are You?

Take a minute to think about the explanation I just gave for a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. Now, evaluate yourself, your thoughts, and your past statements and actions. Do you believe you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? If you have a fixed mindset, don’t worry, it’s not permanent. You can change it. Did you know that your brain can continue to grow new brain cells at any age? You can always learn new things. So, the biggest obstacle is simply the belief that you can’t do it. With this new information, I invite you to adopt a growth mindset. You can learn new things and improve on any skill. Just because you weren’t born with a certain talent does not mean that you can’t learn it and eventually be good at it or even become an expert.

My Growth Mindset has Benefited Me

Having a growth mindset has helped me tremendously in life. There are so many things I never would have done because I had no prior knowledge and no talent or skill. For example, becoming an entrepreneur was a dark area for me. I was interested in it, but I knew nothing about business, marketing, sales or finances. It was all new to me! Reiki was completely new to me as well. I have learned so much. Now I have two businesses, Abundant Light Reiki LLC, and Envisioned Life Institute LLC. Having a growth mindset has opened up many doors for me. I hope you will take on a growth mindset and see what new experiences and opportunities are awaiting for you on the other side!

My Covid-19 Battle

Facing Mortality

There were several nights I was afraid I might die. Because I was in pain and barely had the energy to sit up or walk. I could feel my lungs, stomach inflamed, as well as my chest and abdomen in general.  The pain didn’t even go away on the full dose of ibuprofen. Covid-19 is an inflammatory disease and I could feel my body inflamed. My organs hurt, my muscles ached. Everything was so heavy. Once I got that inflamed feeling in my lungs, that is when I got worried. I couldn’t breathe. I started sleeping sitting up because trying to lay down crushed my lungs making me feel like I was being smothered. At this point I’d had symptoms for about a week and each night was worse than the last. I didn’t know if or when it would let up. Even when I could sleep lying down again, I couldn’t take a deep breath for over five weeks. 

Health Issues

Let me tell you something, health isn’t something I take for granted. This is exactly the third time in the past three years that I thought I might actually be dying. This isn’t the first time I’d been sick for a long period of time and it is also not the first time I’d been sick longer than the person who gave me the illness. My immune system is just a little less efficient than the average person or maybe a little more than a little. I had chronic inflammation prior to Covid. I deal with fatigue, body aches, pain, migraines and more.  

However, I never felt the inflammation move swiftly throughout my entire insides like a fog covering my body. I never felt each and every inch of myself, my muscles, organs, and yes, even every inch of my skin inflamed.  It really felt like this was something my body may not be able to handle, hence the thought that maybe I was facing my final days. I was certainly facing my mortality; Something we all must do eventually. 

I have struggled with health issues for about ten years and they have increasingly gotten worse. The bane of my existence: migraines. Muscle aches, especially my back, joint pain, skin sensitivity and rashes, the list goes on. I remember so many frustrating days and nights. Why me? This is also something I have only shared with close friends and family, and have rarely written about or spoke about on social media. This is not an easy place to be. It is vulnerable. But it is critical for the telling of this story and of my story in general.  So here we go. 

Maybe my being sick had a purpose – it pushed me to adjust my health and to slow down. Illness is our body’s way of telling us something, and we must listen.

Discovering Self-Care

I had spent the last year since January 2020 adjusting my life.  By adjusting, I mean making huge sweeping changes in the way I think, the way I live, the way I am.  I think this past year prepared me to survive Covid. I had nearly completely cut out alcohol, cut down on sugars and simple carbs, cut down on caffeine and coffee, and cut down on fast, fried, and processed foods. I added in more fresh veggies, fruits, and whole grains. I also added in drinking tea multiple times a day and many supplements. I had started meditating, practicing yoga, mindfulness, and Reiki. I had truly discovered self-care and I was making up for lost time. I was allowing myself the necessary time to heal from the past.

Here is what I learned:

Life is short. Blah, blah, blah. People always say that. But, really. If there is something you want to do, do it now. Plan it now. Start it now. The time is now. The time is ALWAYS now. Risk schmisk. There is no risk. The only risk is in not doing the things you desire. The only risk is in wasting any precious, limited time on this Earth. The only risk is remaining stuck. The only risk is hesitating. The only risk is half-living. The only risk is death in life. The only risk is giving up on yourself. The only risk is hating your life and doing nothing to change it. The only risk is ignoring your dreams. The only risk is sleep walking. The only risk is half feeling, half doing, waiting for the days to pass, losing the sparkle in your eye. The only risk is forgetting your childhood self. The only risk is not going for it. Did you want to wear that special dress -wear it. Did you want to travel to Italy. Book it. Did you want to start a business – start on that now. I am telling you that is just about the essence of being human and living life. It is just about the point. Doing, doing doing – not just any doing, but doing the things your soul is craving. Go snorkeling, ask out that girl, call your mom, adopt the dog, climb the mountain, write that book, audition for the play, paint that portrait, buy the tiny house, go back to school. Do it, do it, do it. You are not too old. You are not too dumb. You are not too average. You are not too inexperienced. Your are good enough. Smart enough. Talented enough. You are ready. You are ENOUGH. Tomorrow doesn’t exist. Later is a flimsy idea. Now. There is only now. Now. NOW. NOW. The time is NOW! Your idea isn’t stupid, it isn’t far fetched, it isn’t silly, it isn’t too hard. It is gold. It is your way. Your flow. Your purpose. Do it. Then, do the next one, and the next one, and the next one. Do ALL the things.

I am.

Since I got Covid, I wrote three new children’s books and submitted four books to twenty-two publishers. (Stay tuned, it will happen at the right time). I studied Reiki and life coaching and started two businesses, Abundant Light Reiki LLC, and Envisioned Life Institute LLC. I even found myself a relationship with a really special, good human. Life is good. Life is beautiful when you start to create your own magic. So, go upward and onward. Discover your highest self, your purpose, your passion. And then act. Do it now. All you have to do is take the first step. If you can imagine it, then you can do it. So get to it. Create your own magic and share it with the world!

My Reiki Journey

Where it all Started

It all started nearly two years ago in October 2019. I was lost. I realized I had nothing I wanted in life: the ideal career, success as a writer and actress, being content, feeling stable, financial freedom or stability, love, a relationship, being able to travel often, good health. 

My health was a huge issue. It was completely out of control. I had over thirty autoimmune-type symptoms, which were often debilitating or making it tough to function through daily life. I couldn’t afford to get real help and had several experiences of doctors not listening to me, ignoring my symptoms or telling me I was “fine.” Trying to get a referral to a specialist seemed impossible. I had doctors say I had to come back to see them many times before they would give me a referral – the same doctors who dismissed my symptoms. Most primary care doctors don’t have the knowledge or experience to diagnose an autoimmune disorder. Working at any job felt too hard. Everything was so difficult. Stress made me sick.

The Law of Attraction

I was so frustrated that I was living life in my mid-thirties and felt like I had accomplished nothing. I was stuck. I saw two of my best friends on the same weekend, on different days and they both mentioned in different phrases the basics of the law of attraction – that believing things would work out would somehow cause them to happen.  I said to both of them, “Isn’t that the law of attraction? I remember hearing about that. Isn’t that what that movie The Secret is about?”  They actually weren’t even sure what it was called. But they basically both told me that I needed to believe in myself.  To believe that I deserve the life I want and to go for it. And that they both believed in me. 

Manifesting

Getting the same message on the same weekend was powerful for me, so I immediately bought the book The Secret. When I got home, I watched the movie, then I read the book as soon as it arrived. I started working on manifesting. I realized my thoughts weren’t right – they were too negative. I didn’t believe in myself anymore. So, I started working on shifting my thoughts to become more positive. I was reading books and doing positive affirmations every day. I was listening to motivational podcasts daily. I started doing yoga and meditating every day. I was trying to manifest a career where I could work from home on my laptop without going back to school and getting another degree. I was always interested in graphic design, but didn’t study it in college. I had no idea how to get started in a new field in my 30’s without going back to school. And frankly, I couldn’t afford another degree – I’m still in debt from my first one. So I just started with focusing on the fact that I wanted to work from home on my laptop and was open to any opportunity!  I also focused on being a writer, being an actress and finding love. 

Soon after, my friend told me about a friend she had who worked from home. I messaged her and found out about an online certificate program that taught digital and affiliate marketing. I signed up. I needed to create a Facebook business page to learn, so I did. I used this page to share some of the things I was working on and learning, in hopes of motivating other people! Soon after, I was working freelance for a few small businesses doing social media and working for a broker doing digital marketing and social media management. 

In January 2020, I joined a sixty-day challenge with six daily pillars: exercise, create and stick to a diet of your choice, take cold showers, journal, no alcohol, and repeat positive affirmations. I continued to do the other daily things as well (such as yoga, reading, meditation, and listening to podcasts). I created a form of discipline that I’d never had before in these months. To this day, I still do these pillars on a regular basis – some daily, some weekly. 

I started acting again locally doing some plays and even wrote a monologue that was performed for a local theatre.

Discovering Reiki

About a year ago, I discovered Reiki by accident – but actually I believe it was on purpose – a gift from the Universe. I started meditating daily, which grew from my daily yoga practice. Then, during a guided meditation on Youtube I discovered Reiki. They talked about a healing light and I felt the light and energy. I got very curious! I started searching for other videos. I discovered several Reiki practitioners and energy healers doing live sessions online for free. I started doing these sessions just about daily. I was determined to heal my migraines and other autoimmune related health issues. I was working through my past trauma. My migraines were nearly cured once I started doing Reiki multiple times a week. 

Covid-19

Then, I got Covid in February 2021. With my immune system issues I was terrified of Covid-19. I had been in the ER with the flu in early 2018 and again in 2020 with chest pain from an inflamed stomach. My health worsened each year. I now believe it was from all of the stress and trauma that I held on to. I didn’t really know how to process it, how to release it, or how to heal. I was the person who was sick about seven times a year with things like strep throat, nasty colds, respiratory infections or the flu. I was the person who caught everything, who was sick for two weeks when I caught a “small bug” from a friend. I usually get hit longer and harder. So, yes, I was very isolated trying to avoid Covid and I was fearful when I got it. Knowing my body, and my immune system issues, I was truly not sure if I could survive it. 

I remember realizing, at week two, that I couldn’t sleep laying down, because I couldn’t breathe. I was afraid I’d die in my sleep living alone with no one to check in on me. I could barely walk from the living room to the kitchen. It took all of my energy to take my dog out to the yard to go potty. I remember, at week four, realizing it was getting worse, not better. My inflammation was out of control. I was on the top dose of ibuprofen, but couldn’t keep the inflammation at bay. It was especially bad in my chest, stomach, lungs, and arms. I could feel my blood pressure spike at times. It felt like my veins and arteries were on fire. I felt light-headed and could feel my heart racing. There were multiple times I thought I would die from a stroke or a heart attack. I truly believe Reiki helped save me. I would do it daily in an epsom salt bath. I could feel my blood pressure lowering. I could feel the inflammation calming slightly in my organs.

Facing Mortality

When your organs feel on fire, you do start to fear death. I had a lot of time to think about what I have and have not done in my life. I couldn’t die – I have not lived out my dreams yet! I realized, death didn’t care, I was going to die one day, even if I didn’t do any of the things I felt I was meant to do. It was up to me to do them, and if I survived Covid, it was a second chance. I also realized that the Universe was on my side and wanted me to succeed. I realized I wasn’t alone. I met my spirit guides. (Once again, when you are feverish and facing death, things happen. Things that other people might not understand. And that is okay). I realized they had been trying to help me this whole time – my whole life. I was the one getting in my own way.

Going for It

During my time with Covid – on bad days I did Reiki for three to four hours. I did it at least one hour per day. Near the end of my illness, when I realized Reiki was really helping me heal, I decided I wanted to become attuned. I took a short level one and two Reiki class from Daily Om. Then, I signed up for two courses on Udemy, which included the master level attunement. I also started writing like crazy. I started writing for a platform called Vocal, entering writing contests, writing for my blog again, and I sent twenty-two total submissions of four different children’s books to publishers. I’m still waiting to hear back.

Since I got attuned, I have done distance healings for friends and family members. I was shocked by how much they could feel the healing from a distance from me even though I am new at Reiki. I have also done group live healing sessions on my Facebook group. I am excited to see how much more I can learn and grow as I practice channeling Reiki. 

I have felt pulled to something deeper my whole life. I am an empath and a maybe even a “Lightworker.” Now I know what that means for me; I can help others heal through Reiki. I feel like I have been searching for this my whole life. That it happened right when it was supposed to, right when I was ready. I am more in touch with my higher self than I have ever been and I credit that to my self-healing through Reiki. I am more at peace, more content, more okay, more happy than I have been since I was a kid. I have even cured my own depression and anxiety that I have had for twenty years (through Reiki and all of the other self-care practices mentioned above – after working through therapy for several years prior). Healing is a process.

Life is so beautiful, especially when it starts making sense. I can’t wait to see what else I will manifest in my life! I have started two businesses: Abundant Light Reiki LLC and Envisioned Life institute LLC. In addition to Reiki sessions, I will offer courses, challenges, and coaching. I am excited to see what comes next in my life and my businesses!

Love and Namaste!

Natural Ways to Decrease Inflammation

Photo by Nadine Primeau via Unsplash.

Inflammation

I have struggled with inflammation for many years which has caused symptoms such as migraines, muscle and joint aches, foot pain, fatigue and stomach pain. Since having Covid, I have inflammation in my lungs, trouble taking a deep breath, shortness of breath, brain fog, increased stomach pain, and inflammation of the blood vessels, arteries and possibly the heart causing high blood pressure, arm pain and chest pain. Ibuprofen and Naproxen have both helped me, but as I continue to recover, I am very eager to remove these altogether. I’ve been on a quest to learn as much as I can about natural remedies for inflammation.

You may struggle with inflammation if you have any of the following conditions: pain, swelling, arthritis, eczema, long-term Covid, gout, heartburn, headaches, migraines, brain fog, fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, skin irritation, lupus, or other auto immune disorders. These are tips that can help, but always talk with your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet, especially if you suffer from a chronic condition.

The important thing to remember if you are suffering is that you have so much power to change your circumstances. There is no such thing as a quick fix and I understand how difficult it can be to suffer from a long-term condition, but what I have learned is that I am not powerless. There is so much we can do for our health to improve our lives! We are powerful!

Decrease Inflammation with Healthy Foods

Here is a list of natural foods and spices to decrease inflammation in the body:

  • Green Tea
  • Ginger
  • Tumeric
  • Garlic
  • Cayenne
  • Tart Cherry
  • Fenugreek Seed
  • Mushrooms
  • Berries
  • Salmon
  • Avocados 
  • Broccoli
  • Grapes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Dark chocolate
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach 
  • Kale
  • Roasted seaweed
  • Pomegranate
  • Acai 
  • Elderberry
  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Cinnamon
  • Black pepper
  • Clove
  • Peppers

Keep in mind, any plant food is typically high in antioxidants which can help reduce inflammation. It is also healthier to eat the actual food as opposed to a supplement, but supplements are a great addition to a healthy diet. I do both! The key is consistency and variety; eat many different healthy foods every day.

Eliminate Causes of Inflammation

In addition to these healthy foods, it is important to decrease sugar, fast and fried foods, simple carbohydrates (like bread, pasta, white rice) and alcohol. These all cause inflammation in the body. Cut them out as much as possible.

Self-Care to Reduce Stress

Finally, It is essential to reduce stress. Remember pain and discomfort are ways our bodies tell us to slow down. I swear by epsom salt baths. The magnesium in the salt is said to relax muscles and reduce inflammation. Let me tell you, it works! The relaxation also helps reduce stress. I always feel better after an epsom salt bath.

For stress reduction and healing I also recommend meditation and reiki. Both have helped me tremendously to ease my mind and body. Once again, we are not powerless to our current conditions. Meditation can help you regain the feeling of being powerful by gaining control over your mind. Reiki can help you to shift your mind and body to a healing state.

Eat healthy foods, eliminate unhealthy foods, lower stress and make self-care a priority to reduce the inflammation in your body. Regain your power!

B Vitamin Benefits for Your Beautiful Body

Photo by Nastya Dulhiier via Unsplash.

Are you looking for a vitamin to help with your sleep problems, memory, depression, anxiety, anti-aging, hair, skin, nails, and heart health?  Look no further because the B vitamins have your back!  B vitamins can be found in meat, leafy greens, eggs, dairy products, and nuts, just to name a few!  However, there are nine types of B vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12.  There are even four types of B12.  So, which B vitamins do you need for your health concerns?  Let’s find out!

B1, also known as thiamine, helps the immune system, breaks down carbohydrates, aids in diminishing stress, and helps create new blood cells.  Vitamin B1 can be found in whole grains, spinach and kale (Herndon, 2013).  (I knew there was a reason my mother always told me to eat my greens!)

Vitamin B2, riboflavin, is full of antioxidants, which fight free radicals in your body.  This means it can help your body with anti-aging and cancer prevention.  B2 also prevents heart disease and aids in the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body.  Which foods do you need to eat to get B2?  You need almonds, wild rice, milk, yogurt, eggs, brussel sprouts, spinach, and soybeans.   Following the food pyramid can replenish B vitamins in the human body (McDermott, 2014).

Vitamin B3, otherwise known as niacin, is important in producing the good kind of cholesterol, HDL.  When your body produces more HDL it decreases the bad cholesterol, LDL.  Niacin can also prevent acne.  Keep in mind if you drink a lot of alcohol, it may be diminishing niacin from your body.  You can get Vitamin B3 from yeast, red meat, milk, eggs, and once again, green veggies (Herndon, 2013). (Thanks, mom!)

Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, aids in the digestion of carbohydrates.  It also helps produce sex and stress hormones, including testosterone.  B5 aids in skin repair and anti-aging, such as healing redness and skin spots.  B5 is found in many foods, primarily in avocados, yogurt, eggs, meat and legumes (McDermott, 2014).

Vitamin B6, pyridoxine, is a vitamin that works together with other B vitamins.  B6, B9, and B12 all work together to keep an amino acid called homocysteine at an appropriate level in the body, which prevents heart disease.  It also helps produce serotonin, norepineprine, and melatonin, as well as aiding in reducing arthritis inflammation.  B6 can be found in chicken, turkey, salmon, lentils, sunflower seeds, cheese, brown rice, and carrots (Herndon, 2013).

Vitamin B7, biotin, helps with health of hair, skin and nails. It helps people with diabetes, and helps fetal growth.  B7 can be found in barley, liver, yeast, pork, chicken, fish, potatoes, egg yolk, and nuts (McDermott, 2014).

Vitamin B9, folic acid, helps depression, memory loss, and helps fetal neurological development.  B9 can be found in dark leafy greens, asparagus, beats, salmon, root veggies, milk wheat, and beans (Webmd, n.d.).

Vitamin B12 helps create red blood cells and hemoglobin.  There are four types of B12.  Two are less effective, but cheaper, can be stored longer and not found in nature: cyanocabalamin and hydroxocobalamin.  A third type, adenosylcobalamin, is found in animals, and ready for the body to use to produce energy.  The most effective type of B12 is methylcobalamin (D’adamo, 2004).  It is easiest for the body to absorb this type, and it can be stored in the body.  It helps the liver, brain, nervous system, and with vision.  It also prevents heart disease, aids in a higher quality of sleep and helps balance cortisol levels in the body (Claire, 2013).

If you think you may have a B vitamin deficiency check with your doctor.  Also, make sure to ask your doctor about adding supplements.  Too much of the B vitamins can have negative side effects.  With a balanced diet including grains, green vegetables, meat and dairy most people will get plenty of B vitamins!  So, listen to your mothers and eat your veggies!

References

Claire, A. (2013, March 12). What are the Best Forms of Vitamin B12 Supplements.Retrieved fromhttp://www.metabolics.com/blog/the-best-forms-of-vitamin-b12-in-supplements/

D’adamo, P. (2004, January 7). Cyanocobalamin vs Methylcobalamin. Retrieved fromhttp://www.dadamo.com/B2blogs/blogs/index.php/2004/02/07/cyanocobalamin-versus-          methylcobalamin?blog=27

Herndon, J. (2013, September 15). B-Complex Vitamin Benefits and Side Effects. Retrieved from                http://www.livestrong.com/article/352793-vitamin-b-complex-benefits-side-effects/

McDermott, N. (2014, February 25). The Benefits of B Vitamin Complex.Retrieved from                http://dailyburn.com/life/health/benefitsvitamin-b-complex/

Webmd. (n.d.). B Vitamin Directoryhttp://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/b-vitamins  directory

How Running Saved My Life

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By Melissa Marie Watson

No, I wasn’t running from a grizzly bear, nor out from under a falling piano; it was nothing like that. However, running did save my life in many ways. I used to hate running. I remember dreading the mile run in school. I loathed the day my P.E. teacher would make me run around the track four times. She’d clap at me, “Watson!” Maybe I was dragging my feet. Little did I know, I would one day run by choice and for further than a mile at a time.

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I would learn to enjoy the pain. I would run until the pain would subside and endorphins would release; only good could come from that. Then, I would run until the pain returned. I would run to beat the pain. Run the pain away. I would run to put things behind me. I would run away from some things. I would run toward other things. I would run to conquer my past, to catch my future, to reach my dreams. I would run to fully exist in the present.  I would run to show myself that I could do it. I would run to become powerful and strong.

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A big part of running is the belief that I can do it. I started out by running intervals of about one to two minutes at a time, with walking breaks of the same time in between. I worked my way up to a quarter of a mile, then a half a mile, then a mile, and so on. I kept it up until I was running over three miles without stopping. The idea of running one mile, let alone three miles, used to sound impossible and terrible. Now, when my brain tells me I’m too tired, or it is too hard, I just keep telling myself to just go a little further. However, I can pretty much always make it through a 5k now without stopping. I am very proud of this fact.

Running gives me the feeling of being in control. When I feel everything around me is in chaos, I run. I can control how far I go, how much it hurts, when to stop, and when to keep going. I can burn calories, build muscle, keep my heart and veins healthy, all while putting the past far behind me. I can run until my anxiety dissipates, run until my depression is overshadowed by the endorphins seeping in my bloodstream. I can run away the fear. I can run away from the pain. 

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As I’m running, I’m running away from something. I’m running away from my past mistakes. I’m running away from past sorrow, depression, anxiety, and heartbreak. I’m running away from my past self; as I run I’m transforming into my future self. I am running away the pain and the shame toward a brighter future.

As I’m running, I’m running toward something. I’m running in the direction of my goals and into my future. I am running with determination, hope, and confidence. I am running with the assumption that I will make it to my goals soon. I am running to train my brain, to train myself that I CAN make it to the end goal. I am molding my body and mind to be disciplined and strong. If I can run when my brain is screaming at me to stop, then I can surely do anything! If I can keep going even when it hurts, then what pain can stop me? I am preparing myself to conquer the world.

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I tell myself to keep going, just one more step, just one more minute, just one more mile, just a little more pain, just a little more time. With each step, I adjust my thinking.  I tell myself, you are almost there, just a few more steps, just a few more minutes. You can do it! You are strong. You are powerful. You are empowered. You are unstoppable. You are capable. You are a runner.

As a runner, I am relentless, and ever so adequate. As a runner, I am a steadfast, tenacious warrior. As a runner, I can become my dream. As a runner, clutter starts melting away the faster I run and all that is left is my most true self. Any goal becomes within reach. I am a runner.

Sometimes You Can’t Go Home

By Melissa Marie Watson

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I was stuck in rush hour today driving back into Chicago on I-94 when I realized my radio was curiously stuck on a country station. Suddenly, I realized it wasn’t stuck at all. I had kept it there – by choice and no one was forcing my ears to listen Clock-Work-Orange-style. It is official Mom and Dad: You won. A year and a half after moving to Chicago I have come to the conclusion that somewhere in the midst of driving back and forth between here and Bloomington, somewhere in the middle of Taylor Swift’s song, “Safe and Sound” and Miranda Lambert’s, “Over You” I have come to love country music.

I must say, it actually made me chuckle when I realized it. The contradictions in life often do. See, I spent much of my life living in the country and hating country music, and then somehow came to love it after having lived in the city for nearly two years. Maybe it’s purely nostalgia. Maybe it’s the simple fact of human nature: we want what we can’t or no longer have. I long for it because I miss bonfire nights under the moon doing Irish jigs and listening to the coyotes howl. I long for it because I miss hoodies and spiked cider in October around the fire. I long for it because I miss hiking deep into the woods hushing each other when we come upon a deer or a raccoon. I long for the nights I got lost staring into the starry abyss. I long for it because I miss the faces of the people I’ve known all of my life. I long for the simplicity. I long for the familiarity.

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Sometimes I wish to go back but it is an anomaly. They do say “you never can go home.” I can only move forward because I more deeply long for change. I long for self-evolution. I desire to write a new chapter in My Life. My new lesson is to want what is already mine. To want what is right in front of me. To so strongly long for what is meant to be mine. So I can be sure I’m traveling toward my rightful desires. Because God, I want to have what’s mine. I’m determined to have what is mine. If I have to get it while listening to country song, so be it.

                                                                                *  *

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Fast forward two more years and here I am sitting in my old teenager bedroom working away at the mountain of boxes behind me in between bouts of typing. When I moved to Chicago four years ago I told myself I would never move back here and frankly, I didn’t want to when it happened! I was in a daze and it was as if it was happening to someone else. I was acting out my role in a play, going through the motions. I thought if I moved back I would have lost all of the progress I made when I moved to the city. I was afraid it would be difficult to make it back to Chicago with a new job and a new life. Honestly, I thought moving back to my home town would mean my life was over. I never imagined I would actually be unpacking boxes again in my old bedroom at my parents’ house right before my 30th birthday.

Now I am sitting in my half unpacked room typing here and at 30 years old I have never been more ok. It is not because I am here nor is it because of my absence from Chicago. I just finally reached my epiphany. I am somehow able to do what I always said I was doing and let it all go. I am finally capable of just being and it feels f***ing fantastic.

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I am able to stare into the starry abyss, and enjoy the smoky bonfires and country tunes with my parents. There was a deepening canyon of distance between myself and my parents. I can feel it slowly filling in with dirt, forming ground we can stand on to lean in a little closer and hear each other. There is a merging. I had hit rock bottom in my ideal Chicago life, stuck in the cyclical madness of an abusive relationship, and living for some time in denial of the severity of my situation. This is how I lost it all and had to move here. I believe it was a blessing in disguise to bring me back home. All is not lost.

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Sometimes you really can’t go home. If you have the chance to go home it doesn’t matter if you are 30 or 52; go! Go out into the world and find yourself, and then go home and let your new self and your childhood self merge. If you have a second chance at mending family then go home before home no longer exists, waiting for you.

*The featured photo was taken by Grace Watson.