Posts Tagged ‘chronic illness’

A surefire way to reduce anxiety, worry and stress

Recovering soldiers knitting

Recovering soldiers knitting

Before I started homeschooling my daughter in the 7th grade,  I was never anxious for her to go back to school after summer break.  She is in her last year of college and I find I have not changed.  After Christmas this year she was ready to rush back to school and three more weeks of winter break.

She lives off campus in an international house where she is very happy.  I however, was somewhat crushed to see her run off.  After the busyness of the holidays and traveling, I felt as though I had hardly spent any one-on-one time with her.  Seeing my disappointment she decided to stay a little longer and spend some quality time with mom.


My daughter, paddling off…..

I was grateful to have her all to myself for a little while.  While we were in my sewing room she began to complain about me not making her anything.  Mind you, I have made this girl a twin quilt, a scrap quilt, a full size quilt for college and numerous other smaller items.  I told her, find something you like, I’ll make it.  Within minutes she found a lovely pattern in my new quilt magazine Primitive Quilts and Projects.  With her birthday just three weeks away I had to get right to work.  She picked out some flannel and wool she liked and I was off and running as soon as she left for school.

This project took my mind off the fact that she was cutting the apron strings a little more.  I think she was subconsciously preparing us, herself included, for the day she will leave on a year-long internship (if all goes according to planned) or move out on her own.  It is coming soon and rightly so, we trained her for this, but it does not make it any easier.

Ahhh, but the project, the lovely project, working with soft wool and flannel was so soothing.  Tracing the pieces , ironing them onto the wool, cutting them out, all quieting thoughts about an uncertain future.  Then the sewing, stitch after stitch, repetitive but relaxing.   I know not everyone would find this enjoyable.  You may even think I am crazy.  The fact remains and it has been proven, that creating something is a way to get good feelings flowing .  It is a way to soothe and calm the soul.this is your brain on crafts small

In her article This is your brain on crafts,  writer and embroidery artist Lisa Borgnes-Giramonti explores this very subject.  I found it very interesting that in WW I soldiers were taught to knit  as therapy.

ca. 1918-1919, Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, DC, USA — Bed-ridden wounded knit to help pass the time. Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, DC, ca. 1918-1919. — Image by © CORBIS

ca. 1918-1919, Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, DC, USA — Bed-ridden wounded knit to help pass the time. Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, DC, ca. 1918-1919. — Image by © CORBIS

Let me highlight a few main points from the article for you:

  • Psychologist Robert Reiner says, “crafting can decrease your heart rate and blood pressure and even improve sleep.”
  • Reiner says, “your breathing takes on a regular pattern, which shuts down the body’s anxiety-producing fight-or-flight response.”
  • Psychologist Robert Maurer says ” When the mid-brain is engaged by repetitive movement ….the temporal lobe is unable to focus on worry or stress.  The cortex which controls conscious thought becomes quiet and peaceful.”
  • Stitchlinks in the UK organizes knitting groups for people dealing with depression and other health issues.  The director, Betsan Corkhill says, “When concentrating on a pattern, you’re required to be so present in the moment that you can’t worry about the future. Even physical pain fades into the background.”

Some testimonial quotes from Stitchlinks:

  • “I am convinced that the repetitive meditative and creative aspects of knitting was what has gently helped me back into a more fulfilling life. I have absolutely no doubt that knitting daily for over six months ‘reset’ my brain in some way….
  • “It is so meditative. I sit and knit and am lost in my own quiet world. It brings me an enormous boost in self-esteem, making beautiful garments, bags and shawls that people praise.”
  • “Knitting requires me to think creatively, to plan, prepare, organise, co-ordinate and control just one small aspect of my life. Then any other changes are manageable.”
  • “On a bad day, I can think about projects. On a good day, I can work towards realising them.”
  • You can go HERE for many other uplifting testimonial quotes.

A few more interesting facts to keep in mind:

  • If you have struggled with the solution to a problem or with trying to recall something, taking a break to craft may provide the distraction your brain needs to find the answer on its own.
  • Giving away your creation provides addition pleasure.
  • For all of us with unfinished projects, it does not matter if we never finish the project, it is the process that brings us the calm and a variety of sensory pleasures.

So, the best thing my daughter could have done for me was to commission the pillow she wanted for her birthday (along with staying the extra day and a half).  It soothed my mother’s soul that is still in a bit of a transition as my only child moves ever closer to graduating college and living on her own.

The pillow Pattern from Primitive Quilts and Patterns

The pillow
Pattern from: Primitive Quilts and Projects

That’s not all, as I wrote last time in A Key to Living a More Enjoyable Life, the benefits for helping those of us living with lupus and/or other autoimmune diseases can be significant.  The key is, to find something you might enjoy, if you have not already found it.

As we have seen from this post, it doesn’t matter how good you are, or if you even finish the project.  It is in the process, as long as you enjoy what you are doing.  Cooking, gardening, reading, crossword puzzles etc are also acceptable things to try.

So like I said last time. Curious minds (me and the other readers) would like to know, “what do you do to soothe your soul or what are you getting ready to try?”

Until next time….happy crafting.
Leslie Rose K
The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.-William James

30 Posts of enCOURAGEment Post 26

For the past 25 posts, you have read all different takes on courage and encouragement.  Do you see yourself as courageous?

When we think of courage today, we probably think of the Wikipedia definition:

Courage is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation.

In some traditions, fortitude holds approximately the same meaning as courage.

Aquinas says,

. . . the term “fortitude” can be taken in two ways. First, as simply denoting a certain firmness of mind… Secondly, fortitude may be taken to denote firmness only in bearing and withstanding those things wherein it is most difficult to be firm, namely in certain grave dangers.Wikipedia

enduranceThomas Aquinas holds courage or fortitude as being primarily about endurance.   If you live with lupus or any other autoimmune disease, you most likely are building your “courage” up daily.
Life has adversity.  No one escapes.  Living with autoimmune disease presents even more challenges.  The good news here,  we have a greater opportunity to build up our courage, which will hopefully develop into a greater ability to understand and help others.  Clergyman and abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher said “troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things.”                                                                                                                                
Roget’s Thesaurus describes fortitude as follows,

The quality of mind enabling one to face danger or hardship resolutely: braveness, bravery, courage, courageousness, dauntlessness, doughtiness, fearlessness, gallantry, gameness, heart, intrepidity, intrepidness, mettle, nerve, pluck, pluckiness, spirit, stoutheartedness, undauntedness, valiance, valiancy, valiantness, valor. Informal spunk, spunkiness. Slang gut (used in plural), gutsiness, moxie.

Do you have more pluck than you did before? More guts to speak up for yourself and others in weakened states?  Do you feel braver having facing traumatic health issues and procedures?  Do you have more courage?  Nick Vujicic from post 9 and post 10  could have committed suicide, but he made a decision to choose a road of fearlessness instead.

Back to Thomas Aquinas.  He thought courage or fortitude was about endurance.  Endurance suggests someone pacing themselves aslong-distance-runner they run a long, sometimes tedious race.   Nick would probably tell you it takes a daily choice, and not just stamina, to succeed.

I am guessing your endurance has grown as you have dealt with the challenges you face.  You are not the same person you were before.  You have more depth, more insight, knowledge and wisdom.

Are you thinking you would have been better off to be healthy and not develop or strengthen these  traits?   Every experience makes us the person we are becoming.  It is the illustration of  the front and back of a tapestry being estherholsenfrontbacklived out in our lives.  We cannot see the beauty now because we see a mess of threads as we see the back side, but one day we will see the front of the tapestry of our lives.  Hopefully, what author William Barclay said will be true for us.  Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.

I pray God will  help you as you grow in courage and endurance.  I am signing off until September.  I hope the next few weeks of summer are blessed for you.

I welcome your comments.  Until next time….Leslie Rose K

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Romans 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer

30 Posts of enCOURAGEment Post 23

Another week has come and gone.  In a few more days my 20-year-old daughter will return from 11 months overseas.  For me it has been a year filled with many emotions as my only child went from a 5 week internship in India, to her junior year of college in China, to touring several countries alone during her long winter break.  (Before last July she had never even been on an airplane.)

Now that it is almost over, I can say it went by fast.  While I was going through it, there were days that the time dragged by.  Thanksgiving was probably the worst.  By Christmas I had adjusted a bit better but still missed her immensely.  As time went  on, I learned to live with the void that this brought into my life, in spite of Skype.IMG_2118

Living with chronic illness is a lot like my experience with my daughter.  It was really rough in the beginning.  I couldn’t get a handle on the whole thing.  Everything had changed overnight and  I couldn’t get my mind around it.  It seemed to take forever for my body to stabilize and for me to get on the upswing.  Then the tough part came.  I had to learn to live with the void that lupus, and then sjogrens, brought to my life.

One of the definitions for void is the quality or state of being without something.  Related words are

defectiveness, detriment, disability, failing, fault, impairment, weakness; deficiency, deficit, imperfection, inadequacy, inadequateness, incompleteness, insufficience, insufficiency, lack, need, shortcoming, shortfall, want  (Merriam Webster On Line)

This pretty much describes it.  Autoimmune disease has changed my life just like it has changed yours.  What happens after that is up to us. We can either let the void mold us into a stronger person, or we can let it consume us, and ruin any chance of a fulfilling life.  This is why I selected the name Dominate Your Diagnosis for my blog.  I knew I needed to continuously work at not being overcome and was hoping others would join me on the journey.

It is not easy. It is work to keep our head up and keep moving forward.  When my daughter was on winter break traveling through Laos, Thailand and Cambodia I had to focus on not being consumed with anxiety.  There were many days I 576046_4480711936910_449760608_nreminded God that she belonged to Him and I put my trust in Him to watch over her.  I could not do it alone just like I have not been able to take this journey with chronic illness alone.

That is the encouraging news today.  We do not have to walk alone.  There are others that understand  what we are going through. There are those that support us.  There is God that invites us to lean on Him if we desire to.

Next time I want to introduce you to Bill. He has an amazing story.  Please come back and see how he responded to the change that autoimmune disease brought into his life.

Even though my daughter is returning, and the void will temporarily be filled, things are forever changed.  There is no going back.  She has experiences under her belt that I cannot even imagine and many more adventures ahead of her.  But for now, I can’t wait to get my mother’s arms around her and see her infectious smile.200758_4480689656353_2863845_n

Encouraging news if you missed the update last week….Adam has received news that his appeal was won for 2013.  It was a quick turn around.  I think his aggressive, no-nonsense approach was quite effective and a lesson for others.

Thanks for your support.  I welcome your comments.  Until next time….Leslie Rose K

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Romans 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

30 Posts of enCOURAGEment post 17

Have you ever been betrayed by a trusted friend or family member? Nothing stings more than that. The closer you are to the person, the more treacherous it can feel. David, biblical king, warrior, musician and poet, knew exactly what betrayal felt like. He penned the KingDavidfollowing words.

For it is not an enemy who taunts me—then I could bear it;

it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—then I could hide from him.

But it’s a man, my equal,my companion, my familiar friend.

We used to take sweet counsel together;  verses 12,13,14a

As I was reading Psalm 55 in my bible it occurred to me  this is how it is living with lupus and many other autoimmune diseases.  They cause our best friend, our trusted companion to turn on us. As we live with lupus, and its many ups and downs, we get a sense of betrayal, over and over. One day good, the next, like a slap in the face, waking us up. Sometimes one hour good, the next not. Our body, our trusted “companion” in life has turned on us. We can no longer predict its actions or receive its full strength.

Have you ever cried out like David in the following section?

The terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me. And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; yes, I would wander far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest.” Give ear to my prayer, O God, hide not yourself from my plea for mercy! Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan…..     verses 4b to 8, 2

Can you identify with these feelings? For me the first few years with lupus were the most scary. I was much sicker, and I did  not know what to expect . As the years have gone by and my kidneys etc. have gone into remission it has gotten easier emotionally. One could say we have settled into a rhythm, my companion and I. It does not mean I do not live with the thought that things could change on a dime, I do.

So by now you are asking yourself where the encouragement is in this post.

One thing that David consistently did in the good times and the bad was communicate with God. He was a let it all out type of guy. He prayer_goddid not hold anything back when it came to talking to God. I think that is where many of us make a mistake. We feel God cannot handle our strong emotions. Or perhaps we do not know how to talk to God or where to even start.

The Psalms is a good place to start. You will see David pouring out praise and thanks to God. You will see him pouring out his heartbreak, anger and troubles to God. He used ordinary words that you and I would use. He did not disrespect God but he was candid. Personally, I think that is the kind of prayer God likes hearing. It says we trust Him. In my lowest, most desperate times, God is very close when I pray. I can tell Him things I know no one else would understand.

So here is the encouraging news. You do not have to walk alone. In the good times and bad, God longs to hear your voice. He longs for prayer_june2009you to cast (give Him) your burden on Him, so he can sustain you. verse 22a

 Many blessings, Leslie Rose K

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Romans 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

30 Posts of enCOURAGEment post 15

It’s All in the State of Your Mind

by Jack Bottinger

I’ve never talked about this before. Doing so now is a result of my sister Lorraine reminding of these events that happened over 50 years ago.6323440907_a3447458c8_z

While running high school track during my sophomore year in the spring of 1955, I pulled up with a pulled hip muscle. The coach said to take it easy, but before long, I could not stand on the right leg. The pain was unbearable.  Down to the ground I went, and the EMTs were called, and a trip to the hospital was in order. The x-ray showed a fracture of the pelvic bone caused by (of all things) the musculature being so tight or strong that the muscles splintered a part of the hip bone.

The prescribed treatment by our family doctor was to lie on my back with a board between the mattress and box spring for a month. No cast or brace was needed;5463 just lie flat and do not move.

When I inquired as to when I would be able to run again, the doctor said I may not be able to run again.  With my muscular and skeletal configuration as it was in the hip, running track again could be out of the question.

Needless to say, I was stunned by the doctor’s statement, but decided that was not going to happen.

Fast-forward to the fall six months later.  It was September, and I had worked my way to the starting halfback position for the high image021school football team and was ready to run the first play in the first game of the season. My number was called, and 65 yards later, standing in the end zone, I felt that I could put that never-running-again theory to rest. I was fortunate to score 12 TDs and average over 100 yards a game–all in a seven-game schedule!

Again, fast-forward to age 70, almost three years ago.  Standing on our SUV bumper attempting to throw a piece of luggage up onto the luggage rack, I slipped and fell and broke my hip once again. Another ride to the hospital, three screws in the hip, and a long recovery regimen.

While in the hospital after surgery, my son-in-law Kyle Horga challenged me to be well enough in six months to walk in the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon, a distance of 13.1 miles, which at that time seemed as far away as the moon to me.

However, five months later I walked the half marathon in Myrtle Beach and have135pm-walking-in-trash walked two additional walks since and plan to do two more this year.

When you reach my age, you will reach the concrete conclusion that human achievement is based solely on the proper state of your mind.

True story from

Many blessings, Leslie Rose K

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Romans 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

30 Posts of enCOURAGEment post 14

Two or three years ago, I saw a movie that opened my eyes to the plight of people in a country completely unfamiliar to me.  The godgrewmovie God Grew Tired of Us tells the heartbreaking story of the lost boys of Sudan.  Eventually, some were able to come to the United States as  refugees and make a new life for themselves.  John Bul Dau was one of those boys.

John Bul Dau, along with many others, lived through horrific experiences and tragedy that are forever etched on their memories.  At the age of 13 John found himself leader of 1200 young boys, as thousands journeyed  across the desert fleeing for their lives.  It is a story like no other.  What John endured gave him every right to be a bitter, angry man but he would have none of it.  Instead, he became an activist and humanitarian.

His life, once one of despair and desperation, became one of dedication to help his people here, and abroad.  He is an example of a courageous leader and faithful encourager.


Click here for Video

What are you going through today?  Has lupus or another autoimmune disease got you down? Are you despairing?  There is one way to cope without being consumed by the trial that  plagues you, sickness or otherwise, and that is hope.  Turn your eyes toward hope.

Hope ever tells us tomorrow will be better. Tibullus  This is not a cliché.  Shifting our attention to the positive will reap positive things in our life, no matter what we are going through.  I have written about this in many posts but you can go here for a cornucopia of articles about how being positive reduces stress and  impacts your life.

John turns his eyes toward hope every day on behalf of his country and his people.  He has not allowed what he went through to ruin the rest of his life.  You will be encouraged as you read about this amazing man from National Geographics  here.


A few of the boys

You can also watch the movie free here on Hulu at your leisure.

I hope you have been encouraged today. Many blessings, Leslie Rose K

Romans 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

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30 Posts of enCOURAGEment Post 12

How many times have you become discouraged because you could not function the way you used to due to lupus, another illness, or a disability?  Over the last 10+ years  I  have had many moments of regret, sadness and discouragement.  When we cannot do what we used to, our self-esteem can diminish, if we let it.  Here is an encouraging story that speaks to this very thing.

The Little Cracked Pot

There was once a water bearer who had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole which, he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, but the other pot was perfect, and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, while the cracked pot arrived only half full.cracked-pot

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made.

But the poor cracked pot was very ashamed of its imperfection, and was miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do — or so it thought.The cracked pot, after two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.

“I am very ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”

“Why?” asked the water bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”

“For the past two years, I have only been able to deliver half of my real capacity, because this crack in my side allows water to leak out all the way back to the master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the cracked pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and compassionately said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”cccccc

As they went up the hill, the old cracked pot did notice the sun shining on the beautiful wild flowers growing along his side of the path, and this cheered it some. However, at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had again leaked out half its load, and so it apologized to the water bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and put it to good use. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path (for the return trip), and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For over two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. If you weren’t the way you are, he wouldn’t have the flowers for his house.”wildflower_seeds

Many Blessings, Leslie Rose K

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Unshakable Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

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