"Live life on purpose ~ not by accident" ~ Alicia

"When it hurts to look back, and you're scared to look ahead, you can look beside you and your best friend will be there."
-- Author Unknown

"A laugh is a smile that bursts.” ~ Mary H. Waldrip

"Set your goals high and don't be deterred by those who say it is impossible." ~ Steve Fossett

"Our Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless."
Jamie Paolinetti

"A day without laughter ~ is a day wasted"
Charlie Chaplin

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
— Martin Luther King Jr.

"Gratitude is an inner smile shared" ~ Alicia

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Merry Christmas ~ You are terminated! ©

Christmas is coming fast and furious, my friends!
Last year, on my birthday, the 23rd of this month,
I went to a different Rheumy and was told I had
Mixed Connective Tissue Disease (MCTD), and was put
on a DMARD (Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug).
It was a wishy washy diagnosis, but I was elated to have an answer.
Or so I thought.
What happened after that was I got sicker and sicker
and went out on disability. I had modified my job to
accomodate all of my district, created coaching
and development programs in various locations. This
enabled me and my team to stay in one place for training
all day ~ (me with my heating pad). This helped for a while.
Plus, it was effective and efficient use of my time.
Unfortunately, my body was too far gone. I needed a new doctor.
Real answers. I got them. I have a persistent form of RA,
and it is not working well with my old treatment (2 DMARD's) ~
making it hard to walk, use my hands, drive, etc...
But my company disagreed. They said I wasn't sick.
They just gave me a great Christmas present.
Merry Christmas Alicia ~ you are terminated!
Truly, someone forgot to tell upper Management, because
the day I got the Cobra paperwork, I got a Wishing you Peace, Joy and
Prosperity Christmas card. Pardon me if I am not happy
about the card. Come on!
So, my friends, I am on a new treatment ~ an Anti - TNF injectable.
A live protein. There is a lot of hope riding on this treatment.
It has been four weeks so far. I wish I could get off one, but with RA,
you need to stay on all of them ~ so now I am on 3 treatments (plus
many other meds).
Here's hoping for a healthier 2011!
2010 has been a year of lessons ~
Here are some of mine:
Humility ~ asking for help.
Courage ~ taking not one, but two painful injections.
Pride ~ telling my friends and family that I can't travel much - but my door is always open.
Fear ~ having to lose my second career and financial security.
Creativity ~ having my mind never stop figuring out what I can do...not what I can't.
Love ~ I was proposed to by my Brit, even though I am bruised, swollen, limping, lame and pretty homebound right now. Not that attractive :)
Re-grouping ~ becoming a great homemaker ~ and accepting that. I have never been one.
Re-focusing ~ figuring out what my future holds and how I can make it happen.
Gains ~ wonderful family and friends who supported me through this life change, a new blog, a new book, new ways of being creative...spending quality time with my friends and family.
Losses ~ functionality, career, stability, people who didn't support me, my sense of independence (for this minute), my freedom to travel, the ability to participate with my family outside the home.
Hope ~ Everyday I wake up, I have a choice - I choose hope.
Gratitude ~ I am grateful for the blessings I do have, even on my tough days. I am even grateful that I can cry. It is ok. This process sucks. But, I have a home full of love and family, a world full of friends ~ a brain full of smarts, and a belly full of laughter to share!
Feel free to email me your thoughts, as usual! I love hearing from you!
All of us, from the USA or Russia, Thailand, England, Denmark or New Zealand ~ all over the
world ~ with or without RA ~ you know, we identify with each other.
Drop me an email again ~ alicia@youempowered.com or comment here to
share with others. You all inspire me.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Healing hugs,

Friday, November 26, 2010

"There is a cure in this box" ©

Hello my friends!
Phew, we had a busy, but joyous Thanksgiving! I hope you did too!
We have much to be grateful for. You know, my friends, I truly
believe that gratitude for the small things, and big things in life,
keeps us sane, healthy and surely happier human beings. Don't you?
With this economic situation continuing for such a long time, I have
found that more people are discussing personal things with one another ~
real personal things...like "I am living paycheck to paycheck", "I don't have
health insurance", "my refrigerator is pretty sparse". One friend said to
me, "you may not have your health, but at least you have money in the bank."
Hmmm...we both shared our serious fears. I just found out my treatments
aren't working, but my company denied me again. So, after 8 months of no
pay, keeping the faith, and working on my wellness - not getting better...I have
no job, no disability pay, no choices at this moment.
But I do. I did. I chose to be grateful for what I have. My friend has her
health, but is afraid of her financial situation. I don't have my health - but
I am starting a brand new treatment! HOPE! I took my first Biologic treatment
last Saturday, and I have my future, my life, riding on the success of this medicine
that I inject in my body once a week. I wrote on the box that came last Saturday -
"There is a cure in this box!" I even got help from the Pharmaceutical company -
they paid my co-pay for six months! GRATITUDE! I didn't get sick from the
medicine! JOY! I saved that for the methotrexate I inject on Sunday nights -
but together they have the best chance of working! That is the chance I am
willing to continue to take.
So, do I lose Faith, yup. In the last 3 years, I have only been able to work full-time
9 months, but been denied disability for the other 2 1/3 years...so I have fear too.
But I get my faith back. I also have resilience, intelligence, gratitude, support and
tons of skills and creativity. I am going to figure this thing out. Some how. I have
to. You know, some people have it far worse, and figure it out. So will I. So can
you. I have children watching, friends cheering me on, my mom supporting me,
needing me now. I can't just give up. Come on now. Neither can you.
So, make a list, my friends - what are you grateful for? What CAN you do? What
makes you happy? Do it! Life is too short to wallow. Life is for living! Life is for
thriving! Yes, even if you have chronic pain, it is hard to walk, exercise, you lost your
careers, you can't keep up with your friends, it is ok. You woke up on the right side
of the daisies. Re-focus, re-group and Live your life -
I am .... I am living like
There is a cure in the box!
Healing hugs,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

So... am I lonely? ©

Hello my friends ~
As you probably have figured out
I write when I am inspired...
tonight, well...let me tell you about it.
My kids are growing up
and they are bright kids.
All they have seen of me is action...
busy, always moving, going, going, going.
My daughter used to wait up for me until 11pm
when I went to college ~ I got my B.S. when she was 5.
My son was 2.
I have always been a "career mom"
balancing both, and luckily for me
I had careers that gave me flexibility
to be able to be there for my kids
for everything.
My careers were very social ones ~
always interacting in person with lots
of people, all day long.
I worked with Presidents of companies,
HR Managers, Doctors, entire departments,
large groups and individuals. My careers introduced
me to so many interesting and diverse people.
As my careers changed, my skills developed
and I was able to be more challenged.
And busy. Very busy. Always on the go.
But that was fine ~ with my mind. Not so much
with my body.
My son and I were talking today. He said something
that has me really, I mean really thinking about it.
He said, "you know Ma, I'm sure you must be pretty
lonely and all..." what? "well, you are always in your
chair (with 2 heating pads on), working on your computer,
or reading, or watching a movie. - that seems pretty lonely
to me." whoa.
Am I lonely? You know, my family is tight, and I love
keeping our home comfy for all of us and our pets. My
extended family isn't close, so I don't have family visiting us.
Honestly, I have been truly working on getting well for nine
months now. I guess I must like myself, cuz I'm not sick of
me yet. :) I have a routine of wellness - my healing trail with
my dog and cat (and sometimes friends), yoga when I can - and
sometimes even at the studio with my peeps.
Writing is good for me. I love writing this blog. I know it
helps people from all over the globe. They tell me. That
is healing.
So, am I lonely... ~ hmmm. I am hopeful that my new meds are going
to get me mobile again. And I am always up for visits - just
know that sometimes they may be short ones.
I miss working most...but I have learned something I always knew
anyway...that if you don't have your health, you don't have anything...
and if you don't have the love of your family and friends, and pets...
well ~ then you must be one lonely person.
So nope, I'm not lonely ~
Healing hugs,

Friday, November 12, 2010

Quality vs. Quantity

Hello my friends - me again.
What is new in your life? Getting ready for the holidays?
They are coming up quick.
Lots have been happening in my life to make me ponder...
make me think of something my mom said a while ago ~
who cares about quantity of life, if you don't have quality of life.
Whoa right?
Who knew I'd know what she means at 43.
No, I haven't been given a death sentence,
nothing like that.
However, my quality of life in the last few years
has diminished to something I didn't imagine it would.
I still struggle with what my mind says I can do,
but my body screams ~ "um, no." pretty please.... "nope."
So, I started on the journey of discovery ~ what is wrong.
Trying this med, had surgery, different doctors ~
still working and realizing that I had to choose work or living.
For a while, I had to just work. I had to pay the bills.
Then my body totally broke down.
Quality of life going to ... you know where.
Find a new doc, and he started me on harsh meds ~
zero quality of life, in the hopes of getting better.
Changed them to injection, and whala, feeling better,
but disease is still very active. Tried to get off older,
less potent drugs ~ whoa, while I was living, my RA was
thriving. I couldn't walk, sleep, move after 3 days.
Imagine if there were no meds...even with the side effects.
So now, I face a new dilemma ~ adding a new medicine.
Real side effects ~ infections are very very likely, we are
dealing directly with the bodies immune system and white
blood cells. "C" is also a very real possibility.
But, and here is where it gets tricky ~ but important...
my friends that have taken this medicine...most said
"it has changed my life" "I got my life back" "I can play
with my kids again" "I can garden" "I can go shopping"
"I have a little social life again" and even this one
"sometimes, I forget I have RA". WHOA!
Let's just stick with Quality of life. That is what I am
planning on. Taking a risk, healing my body, getting
my life back.
Wow...won't that be great. I can't wait!
Healing hugs,

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

No apologies, no regrets ©

Hello my friends!
I was just watching a show where one of the gals had a surgery and was pondering her
life and said, "now I am not going to do things I used to do that didn't give me much pleasure."
One of the other women on the panel, said, that is how she always has been.
Living and doing everything like she wanted to. Like she needed to. Saying no when she
wanted to say no.
How many of us feel obliged to say yes all the time? Feel guilty when we say no? I know
I have lived in this life of "if only" or "I wish". But what does that do for us? Nothing.
Adds more guilt, takes moments of our life away that could be filled with joy.
Time is precious, isn't it. I need to spend my time, my precious energy, doing exactly
what I want, what I need to do. Without guilt or remorse.
Having a chronic illness that prevents me from living the life I am planning in my mind
each day is a conundrum. However I was inspired today.
I may not, and you may not be able to live the life you planned on living - So What? We
are living, are we not? Damn! So let's make a pact, from this moment forward ~ do things
you want to do with no apologies, no regrets. If you are sick and can't make it...it is ok.
Your friends and family will understand, or not ~ it doesn't matter. If you have a good heart, your intentions are good and honest, and you are taking care of yourself, say yes to you!
Our lives will become more full, have much more joy, and we can rediscover what we are
all about. Many people go through life not being self-aware...give yourself this gift.
Healing hugs,

Monday, October 25, 2010

Turning over a new leaf! A brightly colored Fall Leaf!©

My friends I am writing to you today about Gratitude.
"Gratitude...an inner smile shared" ~ Alicia Aho
I am smiling today...you know why? I felt nearly normal when
I woke up...the day after Jab day!
Ok, my friends will tell you, I am a little wacky and far from
normal. But beside my goofyness, I actually made it through
a weekly injection and wasn't up all night ill from it.
Friends, I slept through the night after the poison/cure!
Almost 5 months in, and I finally made it!
Now, who knows what the week will bring, but I want you all
to never give up. I sure don't. This is the toughest damn thing
I've had to deal with, but when I lose my sense of humor...forget it.
Like my last blog...I resorted to asking the Crazy 8 ball. Sometimes
you just want answers from anything...anyone.
This is what happened to get me here today. I talked to the "Big Guy"
before giving my injection yesterday...just a little pep talk. "Please
help me jab myself and help me tolerate this stuff, and maybe have
a decent week." (Last week I barely could leave the house...I was desperate!)
I. slept. like. a. baby. Like a little baby all cozy wrapped up in a blanket
with my favorite pillows! Ahhhhhh.... I think I may have that conversation
again! What do you think? Ever tried something different when the
same ol' same ol' didn't work. I did. And it worked!
So, My friends, I write to you today with a heart full of hope. HOPE. hope.
Wow. Gratitude is an inner smile shared. Picture this chick smiling to
all of you! All day long. Maybe, just maybe, we will win this battle...
One day at a time. But we have to do it together, with attitude, support,
love, hope, grateful hearts, lots of smiles and appreciation for the little
things in life. Life is for having FUN! I LOVE HAVING FUN, goofing
off, playing games, laughing...I am not giving up who I am...no way, no how!
So today, I turned over a new leaf! Mine is from the orangey - fire red trees!
Awhh....those trees are so beautiful right now. I am going to go find one
on my healing trail and save it to represent my new attitude of GRATITUDE.
Lots of healing hugs,
PS - write me anytime - I am here for you! Together, we will give each other
HOPE and smiles and laughter!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The varied shades of life ©

Hello my friends!
Hope you are well this week!
Autumn is in its full splendor
here in New England!
As I walk on my Healing Trail ~
everyday is a new journey.
no matter how long or short
my trip is...it is beautiful.
I've been getting a little used to
this up and down life of mine.
Kind of.
I heard someone read Dickens'
"It was the best of times...
it was the worse of times..."
I could really identify.
But to explain it ... well, I've been trying.
How am I doing?
Are you getting it?
I truly wake up everyday
and pray for the strength to be positive
to embrace whatever I have been blessed with.
To enjoy my moments...every one of them.
So far, so good.
It is a joy to shop for an hour with a friend!
To play cards with my son.
Sunday family dinners with all of us!
I am getting there!
Where, you say?
I don't know.
A little is given
A lot is taken.
I am reading "Eat Pray Love"
and there is a part about her needing to be in control.
She wants a date and time for when her situation is over.
Her friend says "you are a Control Freak"!
Yup, that is me.
I want to know when I am going to feel normal.
Ok...now I know I won't, I have a new normal...
so, when is that going to be ok?
And when can I consistently have a life?
Make plans and keep them?
Wake up and not be stiff and in pain all day?
Do yoga again and know how far I can walk?
Tell me please....
I would appreciate it.
If not ~ than I guess I have to go get ...
a crazy 8 ball....
remember those?
All I want is my regular ol' life back.
Pretty please.
with sugar on top.
Healing hugs,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Getting better as I go©

My Friends, how are you doing?
Wow is this a roller coaster ride I am on!?
But then again, aren't we all ~
unless, well, the other option is not too good.
Last time I wrote
My New Reality ©
phew ~ that was so hard to get on paper
but I needed to.
Time has passed
I have reached a new milestone
with my medication, my disease ~
10 weeks with the injection.
Being self aware
and always making observations
sometimes it seems like I am on the periphery
of my own life
When your life gives you a situation
out of your control
and you are a person who loves
to be in control
life gets confusing
and difficult
and the process of observing what is
and comparing it to what was
is overwhelming.
Unless. Unless...
I look at this as my opportunity.
WHAT? Oh, there I go.
Unless ~ somehow, this is a blessing.
Perhaps, just maybe, someone, somewhere
couldn't handle this pain.
Perhaps, just maybe, someone, somewhere
couldn't handle this fatigue.
Lord knows I have built my character
with all of my life's challenges.
But, if my inner strength, my ability
to be an optimist in the middle of hell...
If that is a way that someone is saved
by this disease.
I will learn how to handle it.
My family and friends will help.
So, my friends, am I getting better as I go?
Yeah. Better. Wiser. Stronger.
Is my pain gone? No. Fatigue gone? No.
I am just trying to figure out how to play this
hand that life has dealt me.
Healing hugs.

Friday, October 1, 2010

My New Reality ©

Hello My friends,
Here comes a poem ~
I have no idea what I am going to write
but here goes...
My new reality.
My new life.
How do you like your life?
Tough times for everyone these days.
Sure are.
My new reality includes many things
needles, chemotherapy, so much medication.
Getting used to side effects
bruises, foggy head, meds to get rid of the foggy head,
forget it ~ I don't even want to go there.
My new reality is one I have to accept
and I hate it. Yup, I said it. The optimist ~
I hate my new reality.
Not only do I have to accept it ~
I have to get used to it, abide by it, obey my body
or else.
I know what will happen if I don't ~
I see my future ~ My mom is in a nursing home
since she was 59. She still doesn't obey her body.
That can't be me. I am 43.
Lost two careers so far. Both companies said I wasn't sick.
So no money either.
At least my old reality was prosperous, so I saved.
Saved for my kids education, for my retirement.
I guess, I saved for my new reality.
My New Reality is sitting on a heating pad all day.
Not able to visit my mom, or friends, for heaven's sake.
Not supposed to do stuff around the house either, or I'll get worse.
But how much can be stripped away
Until I have nothing left. Nothing. No joy.
I pray for others every day, I pray that this process works.
The meds work. They are starting to.
I thought last week was a breakthrough. Nope.
Thank God I have a beautiful home, because I am here all the time.
I feel I limit my families life. Their new reality.
I hope my words help someone not feel alone.
Perhaps helps a loved one understand what we may not be able to express.
I have to get this out or I am afraid I will explode.
Anger is brewing, frustration, am I going to get better?
Is it worth it to take this poison shot every week, feel sick,
go backwards...only to get a little bit better?
God help me, I hope so
I just don't know how to accept
My New Reality.
Healing Hugs,

Monday, September 27, 2010

My healing trail

Hello my friends! I hope you are enjoying this transition into a new season ~
Here in New England we have the traditional seasons and all the glory that
encompass each one.
For me ~ I love the diversity of each season. Right now, on my trail, the leaves are changing ~
Some trees are starting to sprinkle the trail with their bright colored leaves. It is refreshing to
my soul on days when I feel a little like a lifeless tree. Taking my dog and my cat for
a walk on the trail is entertaining. I really feel that the trail, the fresh air, the oneness and simplicities of nature and the joy of my animals ~ are healing me.
Some days, like today ~ I will only make it to my crazy tree. That is about 50 feet. But
in that 50 feet, I look at my crazy tree and I think of how I coach teens that they can
grow any direction they want, just grow ~ like that tree. The crazy tree is my tree ~ a
reflection of my personality.
Those who know me well, especially before RA took my spark away ~ know I am just
like the tree (the picture is on my blog). Different, kooky, fun, free spirited, love to
dance, be free, sing, growing and changing along my path that we call life. I have told
my teens, my kids ~ look around, there is no reason for the tree to grow like that! All the
other trees grow straight. Not my crazy tree! I love it.
So, today is my day after "jab day" ~ Monday, Monday - dah dah, dah dah dah dah...
I am always very sick today. My love really tried to put it in perspective ~ "Babe,
the great thing is, you will only be sick one day or so and then you start to feel better."
Sure thing. It is far better than before. And it is helping! But, as I mentioned to my Brit...
imagine every week of your life knowing you were going to have a really bad flu for 36 -48 hours with bad body aches, no energy, just feeling lousy. It still isn't easy. Or joyful. Or pleasant. However ~ it is my life.
So, I get ready to take my dog, and my cat out for a stroll ~ and we'll slowly go on the trail.
I'll smile as I watch my cat take short cuts and take the lead. Laugh at the dog as he tries
to catch a chipmunk. "Talk" to my cat, who just won't stop talking to me the whole way.
And be grateful that I live in such a beautiful place. My home to heal.
Healing hugs,

Friday, September 10, 2010

What RA has given ~ what has it taken away? ©

My friends ~ by now you are getting to know me a little.
Poems just flow from my fingers, so here goes...
one for my friends and family.
RA has given me answers as to why I am so sick
and taken away the questions as to what is so wrong
RA has given me a needle to take
but has taken away my fear to do it myself
RA has given me a world that is very small
and yet has taken away the boundries of communication all around the globe
Rheumatoid Arthritis has forced me to take care of myself
and yet, two careers were taken while listening to my doctor
RA has given me time on my hands
but has taken away my full ability to use them
RA has deepened friendships that take the time to understand
and also taken away family and friends that didn't.
RA has given me humility
and taken away my pride
RA has given me lots of time with ice on my shoulder and heat on my back
and taken away the ability to travel freely and joyfully without pain
RA has given me perspective, hope, new friends, deeper love
and taken away ~ little by little ~ my fear of asking for help.
Healing hugs,

Friday, September 3, 2010

Still an Eternal Optimist? Always!

My friends ~ it has been a while since I blogged ~ I was feeling a little exposed, to be perfectly honest. Not only that, but I was getting adjusted to this whole new diagnosis, new meds, new life. I like to view myself as the eternal optimist and I wasn’t feeling very optimistic, positive or hopeful. Actually, I was kinda grumpy. The meds (Mtx - chemo drug) orally, nearly ruined 7 weeks of my summer and my kids' summer. I feel so guilty being sick. Not that I can do anything about it. The medicine made it so I couldn’t eat and couldn’t go anywhere ~ I still had so much pain & fatigue. Thank God I had the option of taking it by injection. Yup, I am taking my meds with a shot now. All by myself. Was I petrified? Oh yeah. Why did I do it myself? I had a friend offer to help me every week, Derek offered too...but I have read that so many people with Rheumatoid Arthritis stop treatment, or don’t take the meds they should because of fear of needles. As a Life Coach ~ I wanted to overcome my fear ~ and fast ~ so I can help others. This disease needs to be stopped! It eats your cartilage, erodes your bones and tendons. If you don’t take the medicine, it will advance. I don’t want that for my friends with RA, I don’t want that for me. If you have RA and are reading this ~ don’t be afraid of the needles ~ it is quick and easy. Take it from a scaredy cat! Once I changed to taking my meds via a shot ~ my life, our lives, improved dramatically. I could eat again! I started to get the fog to lift (those with RA know). If you don’t have RA ~ think of how you feel when you have a hangover ~ that fuzzy feeling. We have that, but worse, every single day (without the benefit of a fun night out.) That is the systemic part of the disease,the fatigue and malaise. I started to get a bit more energy. The pain and stiffness hasn’t changed much, but this improvement in energy enabled me to take my son to our friends’ place on a lake! It took us until the end of the summer for me to have the energy to do something fun away from home ~ but I finally did it! Gratitude. So, my life is getting better! Whoo hoo ~ I wish I could do a cartwheel, but I have my shoulder in a sling! Oh well. :) You know, this disease has shown me so many things, I will share them with you. One of them is the power of friendships, new and old. Also, how my family is wonderful and I feel so blessed. Everytime I felt bad for not participating in life, my family would say, it’s cool. So let me know ~ can you relate? What is your story so far. Fill me in. I am in the learning phase. Am I still an eternal optimist? I always will be! Hopefully, some of that will rub off on others. Embrace everyday my friends, good or bad, easy or hard, painfree or painful. Somehow, somewhere, it could be worse. Be grateful for the simplicities of life. Healing Hugs, Alicia

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Prisoner in my own Body ©

How do you become a prisoner in your own body? I am not sure how it happened, but it did. Over time my life as I knew it was slipping away from me And was becoming smaller and smaller. My mind had so much on it ~ so many plans, dreams, goals But my body was struggling to keep up. Even when I was doing my old regular workouts, years ago... My sentence began ~ it was like I was on house arrest. I was so ambitious and took on great careers that were taxing Physically and mentally ~ but I could handle it, for a while ~ If I pushed. Loving my family and my career has always been a balance ~ Constantly striving to learn more and better myself ~ but this sentence was nagging at me, slowing me down. Sometimes stopping me. At first, I would just give up working out ~ then I realized I had to do that to stay well. Parts of my workout ended ~ riding my bike. New ones started. Yoga. Then I had to give up getting up to see my kids off in the morning. This is probrably The strongest sentence the judge has given me. I still can’t forgive myself for that. I enjoyed getting up and making my kids healthy breakfasts everyday ~ Walking or driving them to school. I haven’t been able to that for 7 years. I am embarrased about that. My kids say it’s ok Mom. I handled soccer ok ~ but sometimes I’d have to leave if it got too hot Or if I was too tired. I pushed the judge to go to every game...and there were a lot of them ;) A lot of JOY. Handling my careers ~ I just had to, I was a mom, a provider ~ a tough cookie. I started to not be able to lift my bags ~ my hand was breaking ~ The sentence was stiffening. Then my shoulder - oh my shoulder - I worked on that thing - I yoga’d, pt’d, taped it - To no avail. Took time off of work - and they forced me out - my sentence began. And my shoulder was torn open ~ revealed...but not to the right eyes. My sentence was stiff, tough and painful. Nearly solitary ~ but with visitors. I couldn’t move much. Aha ~ but my brain still works just fine...and NOTHING will stop it. I will re-train, re-Group, re-focus and start a business ~ become a Life Coach! I sure did. Through the pain, the tears, the sling, the tape ~ I became a Certified Life Coach and started my own business. I thought everything would be fine ~ but I couldn’t recover ~ my sentence extended. My mind kept racing, working ~ trying to support my family. Nine months before I could do a full yoga class, but then I could do plank again! I was back. There was opportunity. It was just my shoulder, I mean...that was it...right? Another great opportunity - working everyday ~ coaching hundreds of people, wonderful people - and also developing my Teens Coaching program. I felt great. Or did I. The sentence was lurking behind me...now I felt the handcuffs on each joint ~ It ravaged me. Everyday I worked - my sentence got worse. My career was harder ~ The sentence became solitary. Until one day ~ my Doctor said ~” if you keep working ~ you will do more damage to your body. You can’t work ~ it is not healthy for you.” Day One of Hell. My second career lost ~ but they will be understanding. I am sick. Nope. Replaced. During this time of my sentence ~ all I wanted was the truth ~ The old saying is the truth shall set you free. For me, I needed answers. I needed Doctors that knew, that cared, that searched for what was wrong. I found him. I found them ~ in Boston. Freedom! I am free of my sentence of indeciveness! I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. Whoa. Ok. That sucks. I mean, for real ~ read about it. It ain’t a nice disease. But, I am taking off the cuffs. Am I still a prisoner in my own body? Yes. I know why. Now I have to accept it.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

View from my perspective

Hello my friends - I am sitting here listening to my new Lady Gaga CD ~ Sitting on a heating pad with my Diet Coke with Lemon. Life is good. Really, I am looking at mountains, at my dog Tyler and learning how to relax. Key word ~ learning. Do I really relax? Hmmm - I have 8 books around me, I am writing a book and my brain doesn't slow down. This is not good for me. Or is it. From my perspective, slowing down is giving up. However, I have slowed down, don't misunderstand that. Not working is killing me. Not to mention adding a tremendous stress...but that is for another time. I know many people with Chronic Illness understand what I am talking about with the inability to know from one day to another if you can work full time. Of course, that leads to financial worries. I digress. Resting is doctor ordered. So is exercise. I have ordered coaching, writing a book, developing a Teen Coaching program (which is on my 3rd year), and now I have been invited to become a Peer Coach at a very prestigious hospital in Boston. So what is my point this week. I don't know. HA! Hope. I did go to the Rheumy and he is confident that I won't be deformed by this disease! YAY! He has 8 more meds we can try if this medicine doesn't work ( we can start with going to injection mtx next). He really feels that we can win this battle. Hope! I brought him my coaching information as well as a Seminar for people with Chronic Illness that I am beginning. He was glad to review it because he believes in the mind/body wellness! Now that is my kind of doctor! It is actually at their Hospital where I was approached to be a Peer Coach. Trust me, my friends, it has been a tough week ~ I don't know why I have been crying a lot. But I wanted to write about new ideas. About hope. About seeing opportunities as exactly what they are ~ great opportunities. Make sure, everyday my friends, you look at your life ~ and never overlook the small blessings and hope. Some weeks it may seem like you ended up with a negative tally ~ I want you to re~review your week. That is what I just did. I had a really rough week...but I walked, I did yoga, I saw friends, my doctor gave me hope, my mom supported me when I cried. My big brother from Jersey called me several times and kept it real and gave me some great ideas to relax ~ he gets it that I don't know how to relax...he listened. My kids came home, my family is wonderful. I am blessed. I have hope. So do you. Together me and you on this journey ~ we will thrive ~ I promise you that. I will not ever give up. Healing hugs~ Alicia

Monday, July 12, 2010

Choices we face everyday, my friends.

Choices ~ Choices we face every day My friends, I’ve been thinking about the choices we face ~ and get to make every day. Some related to our Rheumatoid Arthritis, or other Chronic Illnesses ~ others, choices from normal everyday situations. Let me know your thoughts and if you can relate. When I wake up ~ sometimes I feel a sense of fear ~ of what my day will bring. Waking up to stiff, swollen hands, feet that shuffle like Tim Conway’s “old Man”, and just plain old blah. I just don’t know what will come. But I have choices ~ fear or faith. Opening up our eyes to a bright new day ~ we can say, "thank goodness I woke up on the right side of the daisies", or we can start our day grumpy. Shuffling to the bathroom to start the medicine routine ~ you can hate the fact that you have to take some of your meds now (and a bunch of them) - and they give you side effects...or we can say, "wow - people spent so much time figuring out how to make meds to improve my quality of life." Off to the second part of the medicine taking ~ with food...shuffle downstairs, find something that is appealing (sometimes with no appetite) so you can take the rest of the meds to loosen you up. You can be grateful for knowing that in about an hour or so, you might be a little looser ~ life will be a bit better. :), or you can grumble because you don’t have any appetite. I know, for me ~ I am very competitive ~ even with myself. When I had shoulder surgery, I used to time myself for getting ready (17 mins). Now, I could get discouraged that now it takes me a full 1 1/2 hours to get ready if I take a shower and do my make up and tiny bit of hair. (bangs) Or ~ I can be glad when it is all done and I look pretty good. Losing hair sucks. It just does. I am finding good product that is going to help nourish my hair. I am grateful I have thick hair (for now), so it isn’t that noticeable. I can just keep trying to keep it looking healthy, and not crying when I lose a hundred hairs in the shower or I can fall apart. On the hair subject ~ I don’t have energy to get full on ready each day, so on most days ~ I am just wearing a headband. (now, that makes me look bald!) :) Today, I bought a funky hat to wear. So I can look funky and have another look on a tired day. Choices. To end this blog ~ choices we face starting each day...I find how I look, affects how I feel. I have to take the time (albeit slow) to put a little makeup, do a little something with my hair, and I just went out and bought some cute dressy tank tops (from TJMaxx on sale), to go with my comfy black and tan Naturalizer sandals. Do I stay in bed, even though I feel like it? Nope ~ haven’t once. Do I take a nap? No, I do a few Yoga poses (down dog is great to get energy), or go for a little walk. Am I bummed out? Sure am. Does the pain suck? Mmmm hmmm. Does ice cream help? YES! :) Do I have faith? Tremendously. Faith in my “Big Guy”, faith in my doctors, and faith in myself. So, when you get up everyday ~ do a mental checklist...get up ~ check ~ good attitude ~ check ~ taking meds to help you with quality of life ~ check ~ eat ~ check ~ exercise ~ check ~ ice cream ~ check! Feel good about yourself from the inside out ~ or maybe ~ somedays (most days) feel good from the outside in, but if that makes you feel even a little bit better to face the world, isn’t it worth it? Working to Thrive, my friends. Let’s beat this thing together. Please follow my blog and write to me - I know most of you are writing on Facebook pages your very positive feedback - but post it here to help others. Thank you for your time, and honesty. Healing hugs - Alicia

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Acceptance ©

Acceptance is such an important part of my RA journey My friends, acceptance is key to not being stuck in the muck with RA or any other chronic disease - but it is a tough one to swallow. Blech - who wants to swallow what comes with RA? YAY! I got a diagnosis! Now, I am more ill from the “cure”. That is a tough pill to swallow. Ones that you know will make you sick before they make you better - IF they make you better. Being an optimist, I always want to stay hopeful - look on the bright side. Phew, this RA and my “cure” has tired me out. At least this week it has. You know what though, let me count my blessings - I enjoyed a relaxing day with my loving Brit - by the river - had a great BBQ the next day with a friend of ours. On Monday, I had to cancel with a friend because the Methotrexate was kicking in full force. So, I chilled with my love and my kids and pets. Life could be worse - Is it hard? Yes. I had to leave my favorite Gentle Yoga class today because I almost passed out and was so ill - but I was shown so much compassion from my friend and instructor. We need to look beyond the blahs, pain and fatigue of the daily grind, my friends, and find the simple blessings. I called my doctors’ office to speak to the nurse about the Methotrexate effects - when “she” called me back - wasn’t I surprised to hear Dr. D on the phone saying - “Hi Alicia, this is Dr. D and I understand you aren’t feeling so well.”... What a blessing! We are making changes to my Methotrexate and Leucovorin (Folic Acid/Calcium,etc) times and doses so that I will have a better week next week. Dr. D. thinks it is going to work - we will just have to keep a close eye on things. So, my friends, acceptance doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen by yourself. It isn’t an easy journey - but it is a necessary process to go through for us to have healthy, vibrant lives and to THRIVE! I don’t know about you, but I am not letting any disease, any person, any company anything stop me from living the best life possible. Join me as we learn how to accept life on life’s terms - and THRIVE! ~ Healing hugs, Alicia

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Join me on my RA Journey

My Friends, first of all - this is a new path for me - so I want to let you in on my journey. My coach recommended that I do a blog - so this is my version - I am doing a little newsletter. After 3 years of pain, extreme fatigue and joint stiffness (as well as shoulder surgery and pt for other things) - I finally got a correct diagnosis of RA. It was frustrating for both myself and my doctor, because we went to many doctors that were not helping me. During this time, I tried to take time off from work to get better - and was replaced, let go or was forced to quit

For me, that has been the most difficult part. I spent 11 years going to school at night to get my BS degree, worked hard to become successful and independant. Now this disease has cut me off at my knees.

After the first career loss, I was determined to retrain myself and became a (Internationally)Certified Life Coach and started You Empowered Coaching - It is my passion and if I may proudly say, I am doing what I was meant to do. With my reputation, a second career opportunity came - Managing 360+ people - coaching them to succeed in life and sales. It was fabulous being the only Certified Coach, and I loved my team!

Major problem was - something was terribly wrong with me. My body was breaking down, and fast.

Every joint - both hands, both hips, my spine, my shoulders...the fatigue was unimaginable - and now I couldn’t move in the morning - not even to do my yoga, which was a ritual. My doctor said I had to take a break from work, or it would kill my body. So I did. They replaced me. Corporate America. Good news is that I found out what was wrong after they replaced me - I had Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Good News, bad news. Great doctor - harsh medicines. I was already losing my hair because of another medicine...or so I thought. Quickly my new doc - Dr. D told me that it was because of my illness. JOY!

This new medicine is a cancer

drug - used to weaken my immune system that is already attacking itself and my joints. It is a smaller dose than if I have cancer, but it kicks my butt. If anyone gets sick - I am in big trouble - I have NO resistance anymore. Or energy. But I do still have my sense of humor :)

So, why am I writing this? Hmmmm - well - I guess - the first thing to go with my health was my work - my careers. Then my social life has really diminished - my fault mostly - and I want to change that, with open, honest, truth of what it is like to be me right now. I have pulled away, disconnected, not made plans, not called - because I was suffering - because I could not travel - because I would always need friends or family to come here - and I did not know how sick I truly was. I did not want to be a taker. I am a giver...so, to need people is so difficult for me.

People say - call me if you need me - well, I can’t. Not yet. But if you call me - that would be great. If we did make plans (and you know, I have always been a social person) - they may be a little tentative right now - and at our place may be perfect. I still love to cook, entertain, goof off, laugh - my regular old goofy self...just, I have been isolating because it has been a hard, tough, long year. I know others who have RA feel the same way...when you are sick every day, and the meds make you sicker - it ain’t easy, but with support and compassion - we gain strength. With healing hugs - Alicia