monthly musings - may & june
notes on healing
Summertime is finally upon us! June was a particularly joyous month marked by a wedding celebrating the love of two friends from my hometown. I was thrilled to have the energy to attend all the events and even busted out some moves on the dance floor! Six months ago, I attended another wedding but struggled with Lyme symptoms to make it through the festivities. Hence, this most recent wedding was a wonderful reminder of how far I've come in my recovery journey. While I'm not quite feeling 100 percent I'm getting closer and closer to feeling like I did in those good energetic and social old days.
Unfortunately, I eventually crashed and burned. A week of having fun and living-in-the-moment (aka doing too much) won at the expense of my health. To clarify, doing “too much” currently entails leaving the house more than once a day, staying out past 8pm a couple of nights in a row, or walking more than a mile. Simply laying out by the pool or power walking a few blocks are too much for my body and result in severe inflammation that makes it hard to move the next couple of days.
Anyway, even though I continue to feel better, I still need to pace myself. This is easier said than done because feeling the best I’ve felt in years is wonderful but doesn’t mean I’m ready for a normal social schedule. When I'm in a flare, there's zero chance I'll leave my bed or apartment, but when I'm feeling a little okay, I'm torn between resting for the sake of rest and venturing out to experience a little joy. It’s a balancing act that I’ll need to work on for the next few summer months, as well as for the rest of my life.
Participating in Lyme Disease Awareness Month of May
Last month, I skipped my traditional monthly musing post for May, and instead focused solely on Lyme disease. My writings “6 tips for anyone newly diagnosed with Lyme disease” and “what you should know and do about Lyme disease” were also featured on The Mighty, a digital health community created to empower and connect people facing health challenges and disabilities. I’m also toying around with the idea of starting a nonprofit dedicated to Lyme disease. My motivation to do so is as follows:
Awareness is key for preventing the spread of this disease;
There is without doubt a need for a consolidated source of information related to treatments protocols, clinical studies, patient testimonials, legislative developments, etc.;
Given the alarming increase in cases of reported Lyme disease, funding for the development of new diagnostics and treatments needs to be accelerated; and
The opportunity to empower others with the educational resources and financial support to receive proper treatment would bring immense joy and purpose.
Stay tuned! On a similar note, if you live in Chicago, and are interested in supporting Lyme disease, please join me and my family for the Third Annual SubLyme Soiree benefiting Global Lyme Alliance on Thursday, August 22nd. The event will be held August 22, 2019, from 5:30 - 9 p.m. at Venue West in Chicago, IL. You can purchase tickets here and use code SUBLYME20 for 20% off tickets.
Teaching Yin Yoga at Chicago Yoga Loft
Teaching at Chicago Yoga Loft has been on my to-do list for years, and I’m finally checking the box! It’s a small, no-frills studio where the teachers focus on the traditional aspects of yoga – in other words, yoga as a way to connect with our deeper self and to cultivate a mind-body-spirit system for living a life of meaning and purpose both on and off the mat.
Truth: my yoga practice used to mainly consist of vinyasa – a practice that entails quickly transitioning from one pose to another that eventually works up a sweat and gets the energy flowing. However, on my worst days, my Lyme symptoms would not even allow me to participate in a restorative yoga class, let alone a vinyasa flow. Even now, there are still days when I struggle to make it through a vinyasa class, so instead I’ve turned to yin yoga – a style which incorporates only a few poses, held for several minutes at a time. The body is often supported by props such as blocks and blankets to allow for a total sense of relaxation.
Yin yoga has truly helped me reconnect with my body – better yet – it’s helped me to love my body again. Yin is equally about letting go and relaxing, as it is about sitting in those uncomfortable moments when all you want to do is shift back into a familiar, comforting position or habit. Many people view yin as a waste of time because it’s not a true yoga “flow” or “workout,” but personally, I think they’re missing out on a therapeutic opportunity to simply be in the moment and to gift our bodies with a judgment-free space to relieve stress, tension, and any negative emotions.
what I’m reading
Without a doubt, Brene Brown’s message of wholehearted living has reaffirmed my intention of sharing my truth and living a life of intention and purpose. Brown has written several books, but I was told to start with The Gifts, as it’s about being authentically you. Brown writes that the gifts of imperfection, of letting go of who “you’re supposed to be” and embracing your true self, can lead to incredible feelings of courage, compassion, and connection. However, she notes that these rewards require the hard work of being vulnerable, cultivating resilience, and letting go of shame, but doing so can lead to heartfelt joy.
On a similar note, this piece in the Atlantic describes how human emotions are an integral part of competent decision making, “Emotions are like GPS. They help to guide us.” Feeling “uncomfortable” emotions like sadness or anger can provide insight to our true desires. A featured psychologist in the piece suggests, “Don’t spend time feeling bad that you’re having emotions. Get curious, because when you get curious, there’s a defense mechanism there to take you to an intellectual level, which distances you from the emotion and allows you to think through it.”
a lemon olive oil pistachio cake
Looking for the perfect summer evening dessert? I baked this delicious cake for my parent’s birthdays and it was a huge hit! We almost went without the glaze, but were glad we did because it added the perfect hint of sweetness. Here’s how to make it:
Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease base and sides of a standard non-stick fluted bundt cake tin with olive oil.
Process 1 cup of shelled pistachios in a blender to produce a coarse meal or flour (although don’t process too much otherwise it will turn into a nut butter!) Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the 1cup of pistachio flour, 1 cup all flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, and ½ tsp. kosher salt.
In a large bowl, combine 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup almond milk, ¾ cup cane sugar, 3 eggs, 1 tbsp. lemon zest, and 3 tbsp. lemon juice. Whisk vigorously until frothy. Fold in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 35 minutes for mini cakes and 45 minutes for a loaf. Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
Make the glaze: In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tbsp. lemon zest, and 3 tbsp. lemon juice as needed to make a smooth, pourable glaze. Drizzle over the cooled cake and garnish with a handful of chopped pistachios.