Nothing but the Truth

There is no point in telling you anything but the truth. The truth is, I don’t want to work. I don’t want to type, to blog, to write a single word.

It’s not that it’s hot outside and the summer sky is beckoning me, calling me to walk along the weedy paths, to feel the sun beat upon my shoulders. In fact, here in the Pacific Northwest, it is cloudy and cool, leaving me wanting nothing to do with the great outdoors.

And it’s not that I am leaving on vacation, and the little girl inside me is jumping up and down in joyful anticipation. That is many, many weeks away.

It’s just that I, the girl of many words, the girl with 200 idea files sitting on her computer, am empty. I have nothing to give, to write, or even think about.

I don’t know if this is a lesson in preparedness, a sign that I’m a bit of a procrastinator. Perhaps it is my brain’s way of telling me it needs a day off, some time to play. Really, I think it is a lesson in encouragement.

When I am having a bad day, I try to go it alone. I often forget that we are in this together, that there are others who want to help, encourage, and support. I forget that we, as humans, are a team.

My writing group is like that, always has my back, always ready to help. Like today. I turned to them when I felt I had nothing to say. And they came back with words to help and encourage me.

So today, in honor of my writing group, I leave you with a few words of encouragement.

Correction does much, but encouragement does more.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

When you encourage others, you in the process are encouraged because you’re making a commitment and difference in that person’s life. Encouragement really does make a difference.” – Zig Ziglar

Simply put, “Encourage one another.”

What do you do when you need encouragement?

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Beauty in the Brain

My body was a pincushion, my brain a pile of broken glass.

Imagine you are a long distance runner, running fifteen miles at a time, the most you’ve ever done. Today, you decide to go twenty. At mile sixteen, you feel a twinge in the knees, a tug at the lungs. Mile seventeen, your feet are tired, your legs sore. By mile twenty you are exhausted, every bit of your body aches.

Imagine that pain every day of your life, multiplied many times over. Imagine it as pins and needles skidding across your nose and cheeks, poking into every muscle, every joint, sliding through your gut, your brain, your spleen. Imagine your life nothing but pain.

Brain injury victims are tortured constantly, both mentally and physically. Each injury is unique, leaving even the best doctors and scientists baffled. The brain is complicated, filled with approximately 100 billion neurons. It’s no wonder that when someone takes a bonk to the brain, the body turns into a mass of pain.

My chiropractor once told me the reason my body was in so much pain was because of all those neurons, those tiny little wires that got mixed-up when my brain got tossed around. I think he was right.

That chiropractor was the first person to discover the root of my pain, and he knew exactly what I needed to begin healing. Laser therapy would be my first step towards recovery.

I’m not exactly sure how laser therapy works. When I try to research it, I get funny explanations that involve words like ‘nanometer’ and ‘wavelength,’ things my mind will never wrap around. But I do know this, when the laser was aimed at my brain, I began to improve. That first simple step led me to find other ways to heal.

The next step was food, whole, healthy protein, and tons of fruits and vegetables. Because of my husband and my naturopath, I learned that the source of life is life itself. I learned to eat again.

The more I healed, the more I wanted to. It was during my third step that I knew I was in for a drastic change. I discovered yoga. I learned how to breathe, relax, let tension fall from my body. My blood pressure went down, and my pain began to decrease.

Such simple steps. Such amazing results. As I look back, I remember thinking my injury was this big cumbersome thing I could never get over. At the time, it felt like it. The fact is, healing was waiting for me, behind every small step I took. I just couldn’t see it until I stepped away.

There is beauty in the brain, in its ability to take life away, and to give it back. I found it all, one small step at a time.

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A Simply Complicated Life

I tend to complicate life, from the clothes I wear, to what I will cook for a family gathering. Apparently, this blog isn’t any different.

When I began this blog it was intended to help those who were seeking a simpler life, a life with less stuff, a life with more living. While I am truly passionate about this, as I write, I find I have many passions, the environment, food, health. But there is one passion that surpasses them all. It is you.

I write to help others. I write so others can heal and have a better life. I do this for one reason. Because I have been through trauma, because I have visited the depths of despair, and because I found my way back. I write so others can find their way back.

Everything I write stems from my brain injury. Though it was almost six years ago, it is still a major factor in my life. It is the reason I sit here today, the reason my words get knotted together as my mind fills with the many thoughts and stories I want to share, the reason I have a life of simplicity.

I learned many lessons from my brain injury, about family and life, and about myself. I learned how to heal, and I learned I desperately needed a simple life.

So my site is taking a bit of a turn. It is still about simplicity. But now it is more. It is a raw, honest, vulnerable account of my brain injury. It is how I learned to live the simple life, and the simple ways I learned to heal. It is a simple message of hope.

It is snippets of life from a simple girl with a hippie spirit. And a very complicated mind.

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Three Reasons I Don’t Like Minimalism

I don’t like to tell people I’m a minimalist. It conjures up all kinds of questions, funny faces, and strange remarks. Some people, I’ve concluded, think I’m in a cult. Others think I live on nothing, or in a home so small and empty, no human could ever survive.

None of that is true, of course. Not that it matters if it is, or what anyone thinks, because the fact is, I do this for me, not for anyone else. Since I’ve journeyed down this new path, I have found nothing but freedom. My life is refreshed, renewed, and (usually) more relaxed.

The Downside to Minimalism

I have no regrets about the life I live. But as with everything in life, there is always a downside. Here are three reasons I don’t like minimalism:

1. I don’t like others thinking I am judging them based on the lives they live. We all lead different lives, with different needs and unique desires. For instance, in my home, there are three computers: One for my work, one for personal use, and my husband has his own for his job, along with two extra monitors. While some people may call that crazy, we call it a necessity.

2. I don’t like having to explain my life to others. I don’t think any of us should have to do that. We choose to live how we wish based on what we want out of life. And if others don’t like it, does it really matter?

3. And the third one is this: My confession: Sometimes, it’s difficult. You would think minimalism would always make life easier. But the fact is, I, like everyone, am tempted by the pulls of society. I long for new clothing off a rack, dream of a shiny new car, and envision a library in my home, full of every book I have ever wanted. I am no different than anyone else – I get sucked in by consumerism and have to fight it every day.

But even with those negatives, I still choose minimalism. It’s the life that makes me happy. It’s the life I want to lead.

What life do you choose to live?

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The Healthy Hippie Diet

I guess you could say I have always had food issues. When I was little, I’d sneak into the kitchen after dinner, looking for something to satisfy my never-ending appetite, and anything that would curb my sweet tooth. Needless to say, I gained a few pounds and hated the way I looked. In my early teens I fixed that problem by becoming anorexic, surviving on only diet soda and oranges.

But in high school, in order to fit in with the crowd, I needed to eat. My eating took a turn to an extreme, and I devoured burgers and fries, shakes and Cokes, and anything with the name Hostess on it. I crammed umpteen pieces of bubblegum in my mouth, doused my baked potatoes in butter and sour cream, and ate anything and everything fried. And vegetables? If it wasn’t a potato, corn, or lettuce, it wasn’t on my plate (at least not by my choice).

Even with all the eating I did in high school, I barely gained weight. You see, I had found a way to beat the system. I figured out how many calories were in each item, and knew exactly how long I needed to exercise to eliminate the weight. Often that meant working-out three hours a day. I may have been eating and exercising, but I wasn’t truly healthy (and never really had been). I had just found a new way of being anorexic.

It was late in high school that I discovered a health food store and began experimenting with unique foods. It was a short phase, but one I would remember forever.

After I was married and pregnant with my first child, I began to realize the impact of my eating. With a new baby growing inside me, I knew my food choices were not for myself, but for him. And so it was, for the first time in my life, I began to eat better. (Other than that one late hot summer night when I ate a bag of potato chips by myself. But we won’t talk about that.) Still, I hadn’t included many vegetables. But even without those, I felt really good.

My new baby was welcomed into the world, and as he grew and began to eat, I knew I had to do something I had never done. If I ever wanted my children to eat vegetables, I knew I had to eat them too. So slowly, I introduced vegetables into my diet. That was the beginning of a grand love affair.

But love affairs often fall apart, and with a busy life and growing family, I usually didn’t find the time, or energy, to eat right. Maybe I thought eating healthy required too many steps, that I had to grind and slice foods, and make some great creation. Maybe I never realized that healthy eating could be easier than that. So instead of simple, healthy eating, I often found our meals being substituted with frozen pizzas and burritos. To top it off, I drank soda, lots of it, to stay awake during my busy nights of work.

Thirteen years ago our family moved to the Pacific Northwest. Once again, I discovered new foods on the grocery shelves, and once again began to eat a little healthier, and even lost a few pounds.

But all my efforts fell away when I endured a brain injury six years ago. It took away my ability and desire to eat. I would have to retrain myself in healthy eating.

Sometimes, I think things happen for a reason. Sometimes I think we need to feel the depth of despair before we can truly appreciate life. My health was its lowest after my brain injury. Pictures from that point show me as weak and frail with dull, limp hair. I had broken teeth and a malnourished body. I truly couldn’t get much worse.

It was through many avenues that I would find the key to a happy, healthy life, and through much, much trial and error.

If you are struggling with health issues, I encourage you to look towards your food. Food sustains and nourishes us, but also takes away the ability to live a full, healthy life.

As Hippocrates says, “Let food be they medicine and medicine thy food.”

Here is the diet of a simple hippie:

Meats – Minimal amount, and minimally processed-preferably not at all. Grass-fed and organic, when possible. Used more for flavoring than as a main attraction, though I do like the occasional bison burger.

Veggies – Lots and lots of veggies, a wide variety, and at every meal.

Fruits – Almost as many fruits as veggies, though veggies win out.

Nuts – I am nuts about having nuts. I try to eat them every day, in homemade nut milk, fudge, or just a small handful.

Extras – Ghee (clarified butter), Coconut, Cocoa, and Honey as a sweetener.

There aren’t a whole lot of other things in my diet, except for the few chips I eat with salsa and avocado. The diet is simple and minimal – it’s what we were given when we were first placed on this earth. Besides, what more do you really need?

(Watch for healthy recipes coming soon!)

One final note: As ridiculous as it sounds, I am grateful for all that has happened to me. I have finally found what true health really is.

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