Sunday

Join me for an MS morning chat and some free flow movement!

Good Morning World!
MS morning chat and free flow sessions. - Join me! A casual chat about MS and what's going on and a couple of days of watching this girl with MS get moving. The videos got cut off a couple of times. That happens with me. But it's a start and gets us moving in the morning which is what these old MS bodies need.
Please note, I am not an instructor. My free flow yoga type routines are ways for me to wake up my body and get the blood flowing. Sometimes I just chat and swing my arms. Sometimes I fall into a nice yoga flow. Each day different, just like The effects of multiple sclerosis.
Here we go...
Sometimes the inspiration of seeing what I've done over the years, what I couldn't do, What I can do now, it all helps! Everyday is different. Take advantage of the good days!
Honestly I'm pretty wiped put today. I volunteered at the casting club yesterday to spread mulch for the wildflowers. Then helped the folks with a dinner party. Wanted to go to music in the park but family trumped friends yesterday. Next week I plan on going. It's such a fun event and one I can do!
Today it's about getting back to work after the weekend.

Let's do this!

Tuesday

Taking Action on MS

Wow!

I'm feeling very grateful and fortunate to have spent the last year touring the country learning how people "Take action on MS".  


As a certified life coach, I joined two other lifestyle experts, along with Madeline Stowe, and traveled the country to talk about living with multiple sclerosis.   Madeleine does not have MS but her father did and as the daughter of someone with this oft debilitating disease brings an interesting perspective to the table.

Each lifestyle expert focused on a different area.  My specialty is teaching tips and tricks to better manage stress with MS.  The other two areas include physical exercise and emotional patterns with MS.   All three areas are hugely important to learning to thrive with MS - or any chronic illness for that matter.  


In fact the program had such success that five "webisodes" have been produces about living with MS.  These webisodes are available at Takeactionms.com

It still amazes me how some of the simplest tools can make a positive difference in the lives of people with multiple sclerosis.    There are many tools available in these webisodes along with touching personal stories with which many of us can relate.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed, even without MS.  Even with my training and tools, I can fall victim of my own stress.  It's easy to do and that's why it's so important that everyone work together to help those with MS.

Here are just a few tips to help:

1.  Take 5  (literally, take a five minute time out and let the battery recharge)
2.  Learn to say "No".  Many folks with MS are type A overachievers.  We have a condition.  An illness.  Be kind and gentle to yourself.
3.  Start the day with positive words.  Use them throughout the day.  Avoid words that add stress such as "need" "must" "should".   Instead use words such as "I get to"  "I could".   Start with one positive a day and watch this awareness help you grow into a healthier attitude.

There are so many more tips and tricks!     Let's chat.

Caroline





Sunday

Living life to the Fullest with MS

There are days we are stuck in bed. Or a wheelchair or scooter or a cane. Some days we walk, run, bike and play. Sometimes gravity gets the better of us. Life with MS is not fun. But if we make it fun, then we can say #TakeThatMS!

Attitude is everything. Positive thought can make the difference. As well as learning how to chillax and accept that we have an illness and must take care of our lives as such.
  • Positive attitude. Can't say enough about this.
  • Awareness: meditation and mindfulness
  • Movement: yoga, exercise, tai chi, qigong etc
  • Nutrition: reduce inflammation and other symptoms through food
  • Social media: support groups, friends and family around the world who all understand what we are going through!
  • Peeing in ones pants: it's going to happen so just accept it now and move on.
  • Fatigue: oh dear. I just woke up and now it's bedtime again. How am I to to get through this day?
  • Depression, anxiety: talk to your DR. Use support groups, friends and family
  • Wine: may not be the best for MS physically but mentally can sure help the attitude
  • Learning to relax: it is OK to hold a couch in place with ones body
  • Boundaries: set them. Follow them. Your health comes first!
  • Ask for help: so many of us are Type A. Time to step back a notch.
  • Learn to say No: stressors come in all shapes and sizes. Priorities based on your health and well being are best.
  • Appreciate the little things in life. Stop and smell the roses.
  • Have fun! Pick up new hobbies. Look at life all over again with fresh eyes. Don't wallow in the past.
Here I am fishing once again. Fly fishing is very good on the nerves and when it includes friends, a twenty minute drive and funky Los Angeles surrounds, well, it all makes for a rocking good time! Now granted, I overdid a bit this past week and am feeling it today. It's Saturday and as I planned it, a pretty mellow day.
I'm feeling like the Giant American invasion on my little Philippine friends!

Last night I had a friends party and then a two hour Aromatherapy Yin Yoga workshop at my favorite little yoga studio in Montrose: TheraYogaStudio
Today: a relaxing Saturday with Wall Street Journal, and plenty of lemon-water throughout the day to cleanse this body!

How are you living life to the fullest with MS?

It's all a balancing act. Do more and pay the price. Treat your body right, get a refund on energy.
Right now, I'm treating the body right and restoring and rejuvenating for the week!





Thursday

What happens during a "relapse" and what caused it?

A relapse is basically new nerve damage to the brain or spinal cord area. A relapse may cause old symptoms to flare up or cause new symptoms to occur. It's quite random. A variety of activities can help cause a relapse.

My relapse nemesis is mismanagement of life. Imagine a diabetic who doesn't take his insulin when needed. Or doesn't eat properly. Or an alcoholic who doesn't work their own program. That is what living with MS is like. And I'm not as strong as I would like to be and I often overdo.

Because MS effects the nerves, many of life's daily activities can be more difficult during a relapse. Just some of the areas hit by MS:

  • Balance / Coordination
  • Weakness
  • Vision
  • Numbness / Tingling
  • Thought problems / Cognitive Thinking
  • Dizziness
  • Pain
Found this great summary of potential relapse outcomes at WebMD - Click Here.

But I don't agree with their slide on preventing relapses. They prioritize western medicine over lifestyle change, nutrition, etc. This girl with MS prefers to reverse this thinking. Place lifestyle first. Make all the natural changes we can toward a healthier lifestyle. Look at Chinese, Ayuervedic and other alternatives. Then go to Western medicine. Use a mix of medical styles to find a balance that works for you.

The goal is to find a lifestyle program that actually works on reducing flare-ups not just covering up the symptoms!



Part of my program includes:

  • Reduce stress/work
  • Accept consequences of reducing work
  • Write, read, explore the mind
  • Learn to chill
  • Breathing meditations
  • Yoga
  • Faith
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Nutrition
  • Physical outlets. Horses for me
  • Mental outlets. Computers and writing and design
  • and many more...
What are some of your program activities?





Monday

Diapers. Really? Snaughling and Incontinence for adults

The day has come.
Diapers? But I want to Snaughle with confidence!

Really?
Yes, really. Nervous bladder nelly here has recently been living in her disposable diapers and pads. These things are nasty for the environment. They must be. And if you wear one once but not soil it, well, that's kind of gross to reuse it. And then the red rash comes. I bathe. I clean. I dry. But one day in those disposable wraps will get me every time. Especially now that it's bikini weather.
But wait, I can't completely bash the disposables. Without them I would be a mess! Like just last week when I was serving jury duty in Burbank, California. Usually I have a doctors release. And I did this year. But it came the day after Memorial Day. How could I at least not try this year as I have been recently blessed with better days? Think of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers over the course of history and what they have done or are doing for their country. Time to step up to the plate Ms Craven. Time to step up to the plate.

Well I made jury duty and the case was dismissed by noon. Phew, I made it! And hadn't peed my pants. I took advantage of the restroom then went to my car and drove ten minutes to the Los Angeles River. And decided to do a little fly fishing. I wasn't really feeling it. Body and mind were out of sync. I watched the water for a bit. Made a few castes. Then headed back to car. Either way, Uh oh. Bad choice. Quickly I got to the front seat of my car. Time for the coffee cup. My bladder needed evacuating NOW! And I could tell the diaper wasn't going to hold it all. I hadn't had anything to drink. Where was this all coming from? So I tactfully positioned myself over the cup and then proceeded to overflow all over the front seat of the car. The diaper was used, the mess was mopped. Well, That was interesting. I cleaned myself off best I could and realized how thankful I was not to have been in the courtroom. Ack!

So, although my disposables have saved me time again, the desire for reusable protective underwear is intriguing. And now very accessible.

I am getting ready to try out my first pair of reusable peepants. They look OK too. I should have them this week and will keep you posted on how I like them. I will be trying two of the following pairs from WearEver.
I am Excited to try something new!
I ordered the smooth and silky and the black lace ones. And for every pair I order, the company will donate $1 to the MSFoundation. Wahoo!
Check out this program with MS Foundation and Wearever:
This is great news! Talk about a win win for everyone. MS Foundation has partnered with Wearever this June to raise money to support MS Foundation’s efforts. Wearever is a health and wellness apparel brand with lines of incontinence underwear that assist those living with incontinence maintain their dignity while also being protective, comfortable and affordable. These innovative undergarments can be washed and re-used 250+ times, saving the user hundreds of dollars on disposables.
Wearever is donating $1 for every purchase of men and women’s undergarments made in June back to MS Foundation.


Thank you Wearever for helping us all with MS live a better live with our various illnesses. We appreciate you!This great program ends June 30 so let's all act today and see how we can help our bladders AND help others!
UPDATE: the panties came and I am sporting the smooth and silky as we speak. Go ahead, make me laugh and snaughle! While I know the underwear won't hold a pint I do know that I can leak with confidence! And that's a huge confidence builder. In fact I'm going a walk right now and now plastic diaper on my bum.
Thank you MS Foundation for all you do to help us With MS. Check out their website and to see all the great events, research and activities going on around the U.S.
Let's do this!







A Day of Rest, Rejuvenation and Random Surprise!

Fortunate to be at my friends little hideaway. Resting and recouperaring from the last couple of weeks. Energy is just low. Drained. Wiped out. But here I am in a little piece of heaven while my body rejuvinates.
This is Leroy. He is my dog of the day. He lives here and let's me come over and rest with him. He seems to know just how much ball I can play before I get too tired.
Last evening was spent by a beautiful fire. It's an original Batchelder fireplace. This is quite the bungalow and could easily live here. Lots of great reading around. No chance of getting bored here!
Yesterday we celebrated the life of a community trails advocate, fellow board member and friend, Elizabeth Blackwelder. It was a beautiful ceremony and saw many friends and acquaintances. But needless to say I was wiped out. Last night and this morning. Legs on fire. Time to rest.
Today was a full day of rest. Other than a doodle here or there, a fledged attempt at a wall etching, this has been a pretty chill day.
Batchelder fireplace 1924
And then the random surpise.
Received a Facebook post about a new website/business called homehero.org. Basically it connects those needing in or out of home health care and those with health care providers. This is huge in my hood. So I contacted my old friend and boss, Mike Jones, of Science, and congratulated him on the launch. Next thing you know, I have a conference call Monday afternoon with Home Hero to see where I can help out. I have so much passion toward what they are doing it has me absolutely psyched! I will keep you posted.
I will give this project more attention but wanted to get it on the blog! Many of us are going to need this one day or another.
Rain is slowly making it down the State of California. Hoping it hits here. We need it. Desperately, we need some rain.
Off to do a rain dance...of sorts!

And to enjoy yet another fire...


Feeling a little MS, but bring it on!

Dogs, good friends, a fire and some stunning wine make for a lovely afternoon and evening during the rainstorm.
Cowboy and Tucker
Some local flavor as well as something stunning from the cellar.
After an amazing salmon dinner with friends, we brought the horses in from the rain as the fields looked like they could flood a bit when high tide came in.
I was tired by the end of the day and settled Into an early evening. While I slept pretty well, I did awake around three am and took awhile to fall back to sleep. Wasn't anxious or anything just mind wandering.
For the first time since I've been in Oregon I could feel the MS in my legs. The fatigue and weakness creeping in. Oh crud! I haven't even fished or ridden yet. But that's OK. After a little stretching they seemed better. I got dressed and ready for our morning walk.
Today we walked with the ladies on Beaver Creek. The weather looks a bit threatening so I left my camera at home. I considered my rain pants. Hmmmm. Not sure why I only considered them. Would've come in handy.
The creek was swollen and the weather seemed ok. Then the skies opened up. And boy did I wish I had my rain pants.
A little flooding but there is blue sky! Looking forward to a ride tomorrow on the horses.
Let's do this!

Wednesday

Massage Benefits MS

Many folks have asked about the benefits of massage for folks with MS.
Bottom line, I prefer spending my money and health on massage than on many of the Western "medicines" created for MS. Which don't seem to be true medicine. They are drugs that cover up the symptoms. So how do we reduce the symptoms and treat MS proactively?
Massage!
Among other ways to live healthy including nutrition, exercise, and spiritual well being, massage is a great physical way to remove toxins from our bodies. Whatever caused our MS or whatever exacerbates it, the one thing we can do is keep our body as clean as possible.
Now this is not always easy. Trust me! Coffee, tobacco, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, fake foods, artificial or fake anything can send MS into a tizzy.
The goal always is to reduce these toxins and increase MS beneficial foods, such as cooling mung beans and detoxing apples.
One thing we can do to remove toxins is to have a massage. And what a treat it is!
Massage seems to help in several areas:
  • Spasticity
  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Poor circulation
  • Mental wellness...ahhhh....
The National MS Society has good information about massage and bodywork therapies click here. Here is the NMSS summary of how massage effects (or not) the course of MS.

"Massage and the underlying disease of MS

While massage can be helpful in relieving stress and inducing relaxation, it has no effect on the course of MS. A 1998 study investigated the effect of massage in people with MS on:
  • relief of anxiety and depression
  • improvement in mood, self-esteem and body image
  • increased ambulation and improved physical and social functioning.
The study used self-reports by the participants and found that, at the end of a five-week period, physical and social activity had improved in the people receiving massage. Those in the massage group also reported a decrease in depression. There was, however, no improvement in grip strength and only marginal improvement in ambulation."
So, keep up the massage and add some strength training or yoga to keep those muscles strong!
Lance Armstrong's LIVESTRONG.com talks about the benefits of massage on pain in MS sufferers. By reducing pain, massage can help folks become more mobile. Less pain = more movement. Folks withnMS don't want to be in bed. Sometimes we don't have much choice.Massage & Bodyworks Magazine has done their research with regards to MS and massage presenting us with one of the most comprehensive yet simple to digest articles summarizing MS, the disease, along with the benefits of massage. Click here for more. "For the MS patient, a well-being approach for addressing body, mind, and spirit is essential to combating the effects of the disease. Helpful self-care can include a daily routine of tai chi or yoga, meditation, and attention to diet." They get it. They get the disease and seem to understand what we need to feel better. Many therapists, especially in the Northwest where prevalence is higher, jphave numerous MS clients. Crowell is one of them:"With her extensive MS experience, Crowell says she has learned the importance of balance between releasing spasticity and maintaining enough tone for the client to function. "If you relax someone with MS too much, they can’t walk when they get off the table. They use the spasticity to keep them erect." By implementing a reflex response technique, she reduces spasms without decreasing tone. The client is better able to maintain standing balance, and for those who are not ambulatory, core stability is increased so they can sit better. "One of the things people tend to lose is control. You are working with refining the amount of contraction they use with a given movement." Wow! This is some great stuff. A must read for all with multiple sclerosis. Click here for full articleHere is a summary of MS symptoms. All can be helped with the right massage! The American Academy of Neurology talks about the most common massage techniques used for reducing pain in MS patients:Craniosacral massage: Light pressure is applied to the head, neck, and spine to ease tension and compression. This type of massage is not appropriate for people with conditions that could be affected by intracranial pressure changes, such as acute aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhage, or hydrocephaly.Lymphatic massage: Light, rhythmic strokes are used to improve the flow of lymph (a colorless fluid that helps fight infection and disease) and get rid of waste throughout the body. Lymphatic massage is often used to reduce post-surgical swelling and to help heal sports-related injuries.Myofascial release: Pressure and body positioning are used to loosen and stretch the muscles, fascia (connective tissue), and related structures. Both physical therapists and massage therapists who are appropriately trained use this technique.Reflexology: Specialized thumb and finger techniques are applied to reflex points in the hands and/or feet.Shiatsu: Gentle finger and hand pressure are applied to specific points on the body to relieve pain.Swedish massage: A variety of strokes and light-pressure techniques are used to enhance blood flow, remove waste products from tissues, stretch ligaments and tendons, and ease physical and emotional tension.Trigger point massage: Pressure is applied to trigger points (tender areas where the muscles have been damaged or where tension accumulates) to alleviate muscle spasms and pain.One of my favorites? Lymphatic massage...you can feel the toxins being squeegeed out of you! But I love them all. In fact, I'm off to get one now! What's your experience? Pro massage or toss it?

Monday

Seeking Quiet to Restore Battery


When the body and mind are fatigued to the point of exhaustion, we seek solutions for our Multiple Sclerosis. Some are quick fixes, such as caffeine, sugar, alcohol, prescriptions such as provigil. But what we often need is solid down time. Time for our battery to restore and rejuvinate.

It amazes me, the power of shutting down one's sensors in order to feel stronger with MS. Sensory overload is tiring. It saps the energy from our batteries at a rapid rate. Sensory triggers such as light, sound, movement from people, crowds, events, television, can all effect our MS symptoms by putting our nerves on high alert. And our nerves are already on high alert.

Twenty four hours can make all the difference, even a twenty minute "time out" can help. But these breaks are not easy to find. With family, work, community, household demands, how do we fit in healing time for us?

I had a sad experience this weekend. And one I could have fixed, maybe. My dad and I had a couple of nights at home and mom was gone. We wanted to watch Dallas Buyers Club. Problem is he won't use a hearing aid and watches TV at volume 75. I am sensitive to noise. In addition our television room is not the best set up so you either have to sit pretty close to the tv to see it or far away which is hard on the MS vision. And by the end of the evening my senses are already tired so television is not a good option for me. It was tough. Decisions like that seem small but they're not. MS symptoms effect our lives everyday. I could have worn earplugs and sat in the room with him but I was already having an issue with my MS and didn't want to push it. Bottom lime, no Dallas a Buyers Club and no movie time with dad. We made up for it by spending time in the garden together. Where it was peaceful and quiet.

As the weekend continued So did my aversion to all things noisy. While dad was catching up on his tennis, something I usually enjoy, I found myself seeking the quiet of the garden where the air floated between blue skies and the colors of spring.

How do we find time to heal? We find the opportunity and make choices. Sometimes they are not easy choices but they are important choices. I knew I had an opportunity for quiet time last night. My last chance before my next MSontheRoad adventure which starts tomorrow. And I took it!

After brewing a pot of herbal pomegranate tea with some local lemon and honey, I stretched out on the sofa and fell into a book, Divergent, by Veronica Roth. Pure entertainment. Mindless yet curious, the perfect distraction.

The house, quiet. Through the windows the birds chirp and chatter about the garden. Encased by glass and redwood, I peer over the pages scanning the tops of a deodar and a palm tree through the filtered pink light-shades of the angels trumpet tree.
Angel's Trumpet
For hours I rest. Reading, sipping tea. Closing my eyes as needed. All day until my eyes chose to stay closed which was only about 9pm. After some water and an evening melatonin I slipped into a beautiful, restorative sleep. Waking at about 3-4am to relieve my bladder, sleep was easily found again. A much needed night of rest was had.

When I woke a couple of choices presented. Attend church, (which I often do but missed the last few weeks) or stay in the quiet zone (take advantage of this rare opportunity). I chose quiet zone. I can watch the sermon online which are helpful. But the quiet zone is a rarity. It's important that my battery be fully charged before tommorow. And honestly, it feels pretty darn good!

The day ahead is planned between a mix of quiet and productive time. A few more tasks to attend to before leaving town. Family will be returning so will the responsibilities: dinner, dishes, conversation. The goal will be to use the least amount of battery power while finishing things up. And to take as many "time outs" as possible

Time to do this!
Time to Rest. Relax. Restore.

Sunday

Starting the day right with Mamaki Tea

Been awake since 3am then 5am. What is it with MS and sleep? I find it's difficult to get both the physical and mental energies dialed down at the same time. And this heat! It's not even that warm yet but my body is feeling it. Well, Ok, the internal heat is probably from the food choices I made last night.
I really wanted a nice lazy morning with a black cup of coffee and nice eggs and bacon. Unfortunately it's all too fatty, salty and warming for me right now. Bummer! But I must listen to my body or pay the price. I'm paying a bit for last night as we were at a Tournament of Roses happy hour fundraiser and I ate so poorly. All the appetizers were fried, processed, salty. I devoured some celery, my body crying out for cooling, clean eating food. But generally it was not a meal for MS and here I am, Saturday morning NoT drinking my black coffee. And with that whine I'll be cooling the body and nerves with Mamaki tea from Hawaii. Love love love this stuff and off to make a cup. Hold this thought.
Time to start over...
Good morning!
It feels so darn good to be writing again, the cathartic release rushing through the bloodstream. It's only been a couple of days but the real pleasure comes with being able to sit down, relax, and fall into ones writing, putting all other concerns aside. I have been too hurried lately. And that's not how I want to live my life. MS taught me that much. And I have already made major decisions that will positively change this in the coming months. As we know with MS it's essential to set priorities and boundaries and to stick with them. I recently excused myself from a couple of positions to lighten up my load and I am taking a much needed vacation at home and spending time with friends and family - the important things. AND, Being mindful and growing ever more aware.
And I am ever so mindful of the lovely Mamaki tea I am drinking. And aware as my body begins its shift from the MS blahs of this morning to a new level of clarity and inspiration. And check out the nutrient factor. Pretty cool: from www.miraclemamaki.com. I don't understand why crushed leaves would have no iron but whole or ground does. That will require some more investigation. In the meantime, it's interesting at least.
Do you know the Hawaiian Legend of Mamaki? Here's an earlier post about it on my blog: click here for GWMS and Mamaki Tea
Honestly after just one cup, I am feeling much better now than when I first woke up. In fact you can probably feel the energy of my writing change, from slow and sluggish to zippier with a touch of sunshine! I'm blaming the tea. Wow. OK. Sometimes it's easy to forget how little things, like a cup of Mamaki tea, can help tone the blood and mind pretty quickly.
I am also diffusing in my room. Ahhhhhh! And had several glasses of water. Feeling tons better than When I woke up.
Now of course I'm feeling much more excited and ready to hit the day. So much for my lazy day? Off to yoga, farmers market and anything else I can get into trouble with today.
We don't have tall buildings where I live but the weather isn't too bad today especially now that my internal heat just dropped by a few degrees.


Tuesday

Amazing Vegan Gluten free Cookies and the Benefits of Lime!

Made these Snow Turtles yesterday for our wellness fair. Huge success!
Simple, easy and delicious!
I used fresh lime juice and zest. Small bites packing lots of flavor!
Super easy!
Ingredients:
2 cups Pam's gluten free flour mix
1 cup solid coconut oil
1/2 cup powdered sugar and some for dusting cookies at end.
Juice of 1-2 limes
Zest of lime
1/2 tsp sea salt
MIX this all up with your very clean hands! Your natural body temp will warm up the coconut oil and you will get the hand spa treatment of a lifetime!
As you mix the cookies, add a little oil, drop by drop until you reach desired flavor. Anywhere from 4-12 has worked.
Roll dough into little balls and place on parchment paper on cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 for 15-20 mins, remove, dust with sugar whole warm. Remove from sheet to cool. Serve and enjoy!
Everyone asks for the recipe so bring it along!


Interested in learning more? Ask me about lime and other oils.
Join the conversation!
And #takethatMS