Ok, folks. Confession time. Again. I’m still a big fat chicken when it comes to blogging.

Mark Twain worry quoteI’m still worried about pleasing everyone, still worried that the posts aren’t good enough, still worried that no one will be interested in what I’m writing about. Just worried, worried, worried.

I’ve always been a worrier and a perfectionist. I’m working on it. Trying to live more fully in the present, trying not to be so concerned about what other people think, trying to be authentically me and do the things that I believe are worthwhile.

As I mentioned in my big fat chicken post, I started this blog because I wanted to share my experiences and education with people in hopes that it would help some folks. I got hung up on the fact that I want to help ALL folks.

So in my trying to help everyone by trying to touch upon every relevant  health, wellness, pain management, career-change, food, fitness, mindfulness, stress, movement, microbiome, exercise, philosophical, scientific (you get the picture) topic out there, I became buried in the overwhelming amount of information that I wanted to share. So I shared very little.

Then I admitted I was a chicken shit and that I wasn’t going to do that anymore. And then I kept doing it. So I need a do-over!

Will you folks grant me one?

I’m not going to try and do everything. I’m going to post on the things that matter a great deal to me and that have profoundly impacted my life. I’m going to embrace facing my fears.

Overcoming Pain

I want to change the way we talk about and manage chronic pain. The key to overcoming pain is understanding it, but since pain is a  complex and deeply personal affair, and the experience of pain is unique to each individual who suffers from it, there is no single solution.

But rather than let that disappoint us or lead us to throw our hands up in despair, we can start a dialog about the current understanding of pain and delve into the great research that is being done in the world of pain science. We can approach the complexities of pain by learning from philosophy, physiology, psychology, neurology, sociology, history, kinesiology, and clinical research.

Much of the research I have done in my Master’s program  has been in relation to pain, and I have come to a much greater understanding of chronic pain and making huge advances in managing my own pain issues. I have had the great fortune of interviewing a preeminent neuroscientist in the field of pain science, Lorimer Moseley, learning a great deal from his forward-thinking, broad-reaching, accessible and compassionate perspectives. He is also head of an outstanding research group, BodyInMind.org, that is doing great things to help us understand and manage the human experience of pain.

I have also had great success in becoming more active through my regular practice of the Egoscue method, recently becoming Level 1 certified as a posture alignment specialist and continuing my level 2 education as I write this. I wanted to become certified because Egoscue changed my life and has helped me successfully manage my pain symptoms. It’s a lifelong commitment, but it is a commitment that has allowed me to actively engage in life again after years of limiting, sometimes barely tolerable, pain and many sleepless nights. I have many more good days than bad. Movement is life, and Egoscue has allowed me to move without fear and without pain again.

Nourishment

I also want to talk about the importance of nutrition and what we put into our bodies, not just in regards to pain but also in relation to overall health. What we eat and drink and breathe becomes what we are made of, quite literally. What we put into our bodies provides both the building blocks and the sustaining nutrients for all of our cells and structures.

I learned that I was gluten-intolerant after my hip surgery, after going on a surgeon-recommended anti-inflammatory diet that eliminated grains. A few months after going grain-free, my husband noted how my GI issues had resolved. I was no longer spending hours in the bathroom each day. I no longer had stomach aches that could double me over in pain. It was incredibly liberating!

I also went through a time where I was too focused on eating healthy. This caused me a great deal of stress and essentially cancelled out all the good all those healthy foods were doing me. But I wanted to stay lean and look cut, and food was the only way to do that after my surgery because I wasn’t lifting heavy and running like I was before my surgery. This desire for leanness, mind you, was despite the fact that my leanness was causing me other health problems, including ovarian failure at the age of 32.

I have a healthier relationship with food now, but still struggle with body image issues as many women do. I’m not as lean as I was before and though I know I’m healthier (after 6 years of no periods, they came back this year!), I still long for the days of my lean, muscular legs free of cellulite and the days of being a “bad ass” in the gym. Acceptance and love of my body right now is something I’m working on.

So I want to talk about those issues, too. It’s hard, I feel more vulnerable talking about those issues than the pain issues, but I think they’re discussions worth having.

Mindfulness

The other area that is incredibly important to me is being more mindful, more aware, more present in daily living. This has also helped me a great deal in the last few years. I have been practicing yoga and just general mindfulness for about the past year and I attribute a great deal of my improvements in pain, my improvements in physical health, and especially my improvements in mental health to being more aware of self, of others, and of nature.

I was worried (see a theme?) for a long time about what I was going to do next after I medically retired from the fire department. Even more stressful was figuring out who I was. Before my injury, I would have described myself as a firefighter, feeling the term encapsulated all that I was; my identity. When I was no longer a firefighter, I was lost. I felt unworthy. I didn’t have a sense of self.

It was a slow process, but eventually I turned inward. So much of what we do we do to seek external approval and acceptance. Always looking outward for validation and assurances that what we are doing is what we’re supposed to be doing. But when we try to meet the expectations of the world, we don’t get to fully realize ourselves.

So mindfulness, presence, and awareness are important to me, too.

Facing my fears, doing things that scare meFacing my Fears

I think that’s it for now. I just wanted to put it all out there to hold myself accountable. To embrace and face my fears that people won’t like what I write or care about the things that are important to me.

Maybe one person will find something that resonates with them, something that helps them, something that they can take and make better and make meaningful to their life or the lives of those they love and care about.

Thanks for reading my post. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

 

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8 Responses to "Facing My Fears: Can I Get a Do-Over?"

  1. Well written – since hurting my foot at work, I have slacked off on the morning run/jog. Retired in March without a gym lined up But now Crunch has opened up just 3 miles down the road so hopefully, I will get moving again. Your writings are inspiring. Thanks

    • Thank you, Darci! I hope that you are enjoying retirement. And that your foot is healing up! For me, being outside was my greatest therapy and even though running isn’t in the cards fire me right now either, I’ve come to cherish my walks :)

      Be well!

  2. Joletta,
    Thanks for giving voice to a fear many of us face and for doing it well. I’ve been thinking of late about this idea of pleasing people and I have begun to think that a portion of this may be related to not trusting people enough. By that I mean it almost seems demeaning to the people I am trying to reach to think that the only way someone can get something from anything I say or write is if it is perfect. It certainly isn’t true when I reads others work, I don’t stop reading at the first sign of non-perfection, (for example sure there is a better way of expressing this but…), if the author is interesting or the topic a compelling one determines how long I stay engaged. So my advice to myself that I am sharing with you is “trust the audience, they are likely smarter that I give them credit for and certainly less judgmental than I accuse them of being”.
    Have fun – look forward to more

    • Jim, thank you so much for sharing this. I can’t tell you how much your words resonate with me and you put voice to something that I felt, but didn’t have the words for. I am going to heed your advice. And I, too, look forward to more.

      Thank you.

  3. Jo,
    Your words hit HOME for me today. As you know the pain, the leanness, the food have all be familiars to me through out my life. This worrying things, I guess, has always been there too. It just used different defeating voices, so I wouldn’t recognize it. Finding the places that help me access my life, reduce my suffering and still allows me to feel like a vital woman have been liberating for me. Granted they come in the form of old lady activities, but I have never felt more whole.
    I certainly support you endeavor to reveal yourself to empower others. I always say that the human experience is universal and if we were all HONEST about our experiences it would encourage others to be more free!
    Please continue to assist my quest for freedom. You are talented and smart and open and powerful. We all need more of that!
    xoxo

    • Leah,

      What a wonderful reply and I thank you for sharing of yourself here. What you said about us sharing and being honest about our experiences encouraging others to be more free is so true. So many people out there feel that they are alone in their struggles, their insecurities, their doubts, their fears, their vulnerabilities. While each of our specific issues will be unique to our own journey, it is heartening to know that others share in the same sorts of struggles, that others are imperfect and just trying to figure out a way to live wholly, happily, and healthily.

      Thank you for your support and encouragement!

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