how to love your way right through your own personal tragedy

 

“Ring the bells that still can ring
forget your perfect offering
there is a crack in everything
that’s how the light gets in.”

–Leonard Cohen

 

So, you’re…

Struggling with infertility. Someone (with kids) says, “You’ll be okay–you can always adopt.”

or–

You’ve been unemployed for over a year. People (with jobs) keep saying, “The right job is out there, somewhere. Just keep looking. Don’t give up faith.”

or–

You’re reeling from the death of a loved one. Someone (who hasn’t experienced a death, recently) comes up to you at the funeral and says, “Be happy for them. They’re in a better place, now.”

People say these things, and everything in you is thinking, “They don’t get it,” or you’re shaming yourself because you’re having difficulty feeling optimistic, or perhaps you’re even angry (“What the fuck do they know?”).

The sense of isolation in those moments can feel profound. You’re doing your very best to hold on to some sense of not freaking the fuck out, and here’s someone who’s not in your situation, who has no clue, coming up to you and saying something that sounds nice, but doesn’t actually fix the situation.

 

Breathe + Choices

You have choices, here. How you choose will have a profound effect on your life experience, so take a moment to get present and choose wisely.

Choice #1: You can sit with and in the truth that the person in front of you is saying words that, for someone who is in the midst of profound despair, have no real meaning. You can feel even more isolated.

Choice #2: You can look this person in the eye, pull forth all the love you can muster, and high beam the love on them. You can open your heart, and receive fully the love that they’re trying to give you, even if they don’t “get it” or understand.

Many people choose choice #1, not knowing that there’s an alternative. Too much of choice #1, and you can go through an experience bracing yourself for the hurt.

In the midst of my own personal devastations, I try to be fully in choice #2.

When I’m in the midst of my own personal mess, and someone is saying to me those tired generic lines that are always said and associated with that particular mess, I take a deep breath, I high beam the love, and then I take another deep breath.

I look at this person and the part of my brain that would normally be reserved for hearing their words shuts down, until all I can hear is my own inner thinking voice, saying:

“Look at the miracle of this, this person who stands before you wanting so badly to love you. Let them love you, Kate. Let them offer the words, because they’re doing it from love.”

There’s a rawness that immediately arises for me in this. My armor is down. I’m not defended against the the Story running (they don’t get it they don’t understand they have no idea they just don’t even know…).

But if I keep breathing, and keep myself focused on the miracle of this human being in front of me who’s just trying so hard to love me, something softens and feels less raw.

With that softening, our hearts open.

Receiving the love is the choice. We can focus on the level of words, and that’s where it’s easy to disconnect, or we can focus on the level of what’s intended, and that’s where something can open.

Thank you, you think. Thank you for saying that beautifully imperfect thing, that ends up being perfect because I see that you’re just trying to love me as best you can.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

That’s how you get through.

courageous time management

People ask me–a lot–about “balance.” Time management. Wanting to get their shit together.

They ask me how in the world I do what I do–not in a creepy fan way, but in a simple, “I’d like to get some information on how you manage to rock this out” kind of way.

How do I, on a regular basis, launch successful e-programs, work with amazing clients, consult for other life coaches, teach classes or lead marketing seminars? And interview Brene Brown, or any of these other amazing people?

How did I, in the Fall of 2012, launch The Coaching Blueprint–while planning my wedding? How have I managed to run a business and do all of these things–while training for endurance events? Completing 30-day Bikram yoga marathons?

Do I really meditate…daily?

Do I have no friends? Do I have no life? What has to “give” in order for this to work?

 

Respecting Time

First things first: my time is important to me. I make no apologies for that. Life is short, and this is the only go-around that I’m conscious of, so it’s going to be used in the way that I want to use it.

That’s it.

Years ago, when my own time management boundaries were skewed, I would read someone’s declaration that their time was important and that they expected the people they did business with to treat it that way, too. I’d think:

“How arrogant. How rigid. As if they’re so perfect they can’t be bothered to reschedule something!”

Now, I get it. I had that reaction as a defense because my own integrity with time and priorities was messed up.

Now, I understand that it’s not the one person or incident who treats your time like it’s as flexible as fresh taffy that will bury you–it’s the fifth or tenth person or situation. On the outside, looking in, you don’t see that about someone’s life until you’re in the same position. People who set time management boundaries aren’t rigid–they’re practicing self-care.

Not a single time management boundary that you put into place will work until you get this:

This is your life. This is your time. That’s it.

As in, finite–that’s IT.

When your time is up, your time is up. So how do you want to live? And are you seriously going to allow people to waste your time by constantly rescheduling things and not delivering what they said they’d deliver, and then saying you’re the arrogant asshole when you (kindly) say that that doesn’t work for you?

Respect your time. That’s how others learn to respect it. They take their cues from you.

Click to tweet that: http://clicktotweet.com/8U9Pu

 

Strategies

Once respect for my time is clearly on the table, here are the specific time management strategies that I use.

#1: Batch-processing. This is my favorite, and the most effective. I don’t schedule my life by the hour, but I do look at what absolutely needs to get done, and then I reserve chunks of time for doing it. Two-three hours is about all I need to get several blog posts written.

 

#2: I work within my strengths. If you’re thinking, “Only two to three hours to write several blog posts?” then writing is probably not your natural strength–but something else is. Do the things that come naturally to you, the things that you enjoy. Do I have a life? Yes. Writing is my life.

 

#3: I use the “two chance” rule. If I have two interactions with someone that indicate a lack of accountability, I generally suggest that right now isn’t the right time for us to work together. They’re not bad, and I’m not trying to punish them–I’m trying to respect my time. By the time that I’ve had two interactions with someone where agreements or commitments aren’t being kept, it simply isn’t effective to plan more–especially if the experiences indicating a lack of accountability have happened back-to-back.

 

#4: My phone is on silent, 99.9% of the time. This means that I am rarely interrupted by texts or phone calls. My email application is closed most of the time that I’m working. I’m not logged on to social media or Skype automatically.

 

#5: Yes, I meditate daily (most days). I don’t call it “meditation,” though. I call it creating stillness, and I start my day with it before anything else can intrude. Creating time to get quiet = clarity and more peace, which equals better time management.

 

#6: I train for endurance events because I love to do it, and it blows off some of the stress/steam that I would otherwise encounter from what is admittedly a busy, fast-paced life where something’s always going on. Do I have a life? Yes. Training for endurance events is my life.

 

#7: I schedule days with absolutely nothing going on. I need unscheduled time for rejuvenation. My idea of heaven is a day with no agenda.

 

#8: I make a point of setting up one dinner date with friends, each month. We might also see one another again, but I prioritize that dinner date the way that Carrie and co. prioritized their weekend brunches on Sex and the City. With that said? I make it clear to my nearest and dearest that if they need me, I’m dropping everything and I’m there–no questions asked.

 

#9: My man and our life together is one of my biggest priorities. We typically have a “date morning” grabbing coffee together at least once a week, prior to starting work. We almost exclusively reserve Saturdays for spending time together.

 

#10: I don’t sweat the small stuff. Sure, sometimes I’m behind, but I don’t get into the mental drama of that. Because seriously, what’s more of a waste of time than realizing that you’re behind on something and then stressing out with an internal shit-storm about how you’re behind on something?

 

#11: I put to-do’s on my calendar–like paying bills, invoicing clients, etc. Otherwise, I forget. Having a day of the month reserved for balancing my checkbook is the only way to ensure that I’ll actually do it.

 

#12: If I pay for it, I use it. Seriously–this is a time management strategy. If I hire a consultant to teach me something that I need to know for my business, I make sure to invest the time into learning it, so that I can use it. For example, I’ve probably listened to the .mp3s from any consulting sessions I’ve paid for, 5-10 times apiece. I’ve read Tim Ferriss’s “Four Hour Workweek” five times. I don’t buy books, programs, courses, etc., that I won’t use–because it’s a huge waste of my time to buy something that’s supposed to help my business or my life, and then not actually implement it. It’s a good use of my time to review and re-review things I’ve purchased when I can learn more from them and continue to refine what I do.

 

Speaking of hiring consultants–don’t ever hire someone without a clearly defined objective or goal for the session. When I work with coaching clients or consulting clients, it’s clear from the get-go that there is a focus for our time together, because we’re not hanging out and chatting–we’re making things happen.

 

Most importantly?

YES–I have my flake out moments, too! I’m imperfect and mess up and forget things, amid this busy life. So here’s what I’ve gotten really good at:

I have zero hesitations about apologizing. Sometimes, I forget to respond to something, take care of something, or deliver something I’ve promised to someone else (eep!). I apologize when that happens and take full ownership and responsibility.

I say how I’ll right the ship–specifically, and directly–because I know how I’ve felt when I’ve been on the receiving end of an apology that ran something like, “Oh, gee. Sorry that didn’t get done. That’s my apology.”

The “righting the ship” part is particularly important to me; it’s an acknowledgment that I understand that when I don’t make good on my commitments, that does affect others, and that I understand that lack of accountability is lack of integrity.

 

Where You Go From Here

For the people who want to start prioritizing what truly matters? The Courageous Living Program is for you. Sign up on this list to get info when a circle opens up.

For the people who run a business who need direct strategies for saving time? You want–you need–The Coaching Blueprint. There’s an entire module on workflows that gives you the essential tools, software, and organizational practices that will streamline your businesses’s practices.

Speaking of implementing what you pay for–how about implementing something that’s free?

Click here to get started with the most courageous e-letter, around.

no more suffering in silence

And in a complete deviation from the normal subject matter of my blog…

Note: Please see the “Final Note” at the bottom of this, before attempting to email me about this post.

…because I have this platform, and because I would have given anything to have read the very blog post I’m about to write before I was diagnosed, I would like to briefly touch base on auto-immune conditions, particularly thyroid conditions.

Why? Because you might be suffering from one, and not even know it. Or perhaps someone you know and love is suffering, and they don’t know why.

Worse? Your doctor might not be doing the right test results, or might be telling you that everything is normal, when absolutely nothing is normal.

You might be going through life feeling anxious and irritable and tired and frustrated, and you might be beating yourself up thinking “Why can’t I do it better?” What I’m about to write about, for some people, could point them towards a possible solution.

 

The Basics

I’ve already written about being diagnosed with an auto-immune thryoid condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Briefly, when your body goes auto-immune rogue, it starts attacking its own cells. What I have right now is an auto-immune attack that might eventually become a full-blown thyroid condition. In the most technical of senses, my poor little thyroid gland is rocking and rolling as best it can, while my body mistakenly thinks, “Invader, invader!” and pulls out a can of whoop-ass.

The doctors pretty much say that eventually, my thyroid gland will die, at which point things change from “auto-immune” to “thryoid disease.” I say it “might” eventually become a full-blown thyroid condition because I believe in the principle of “fuck being realistic.”

Sometimes these conditions are genetic. They can also be linked to several things which the medical establishments don’t support with empirical evidence. I’ve read personal accounts of people having conditions like mine if they grew up in an old house and could have been exposed to lead piping and other heavy metals in small doses over time; if you were on birth control pills for a long time; if you have a serious illness and your body goes into “hyper-arousal” mode and can’t turn off after the illness has abated; if you are sensitive to or allergic to gluten.

A doctor? Nope, I am not. But I’ve read a lot about this, and this blog post is simply a distillation of what I’ve found. Disclaimer time: Check everything with your own doctor. I make no guarantee, warranty, or claim about this information.

 

Suffering in Silence

Back in 2008, I went to the doctor because I was tired all of the time. Blood was drawn and something called “TSH” (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) was measured.

“Everything’s within the normal range,” the doctor at the time told me, and she sent me on my way.

Turns out, this doctor–lovely as I’m sure she was/is–didn’t know that she was telling me the WRONG information.

TSH is typically measured on a 0.5 – 5.50 scale.

However, most people these days tend to agree that anything above a 3.0 will give you symptoms of a sluggish thyroid, at which point you’ll feel achey and exhausted, you’ll gain weight, be irritable/anxious, and a whole host of other symptoms.

My TSH in 2008 was already at 3.45 . Using the 5.50 marker, I was sent on my way to spend another four years tired, achey, etc.

In fact, I’m very lucky that getting my blood re-tested in 2012, the doctors I saw knew and understood that people are usually symptomatic by the time their TSH is above a 3.0.

In 2008, they also didn’t measure a few other important markers of thyroid function, and these are the tests that I would recommend if you suspect you have any issues with your thyroid:

  • TSH test
  • TPO antibodies test (this is the specific test to see if you have the auto-immune condition I have, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)
  • A “free” T3 test
  • A “free” T4 test
  • Vitamin D test
  • Iron/Ferritin test

 

Why T3 and T4 tests? These are the two thyroid hormones that work together to regulate the thyroid, and from there to regular your energy levels, hormones, metabolism, the whole nine yards. Getting these tests will give a fuller, more complete picture of what’s happening.

Note: Some doctors are resistant to doing anything other than TSH test and perhaps the TPO test. The regular T3 and T4 tests are not as good as the “free” T3/T4 tests, but get what you can get.

Why D and Iron? Vitamin D and Iron both affect thyroid function and energy levels, so you might as well get those measured while you’re getting blood drawn.

 

What I Know, Now

In 2012, the worst my TSH test ever registered–and at this point, I felt truly awful–was a 5.18.

It is unbelievable to me that even that still would not have been enough to officially “qualify” me as having a problem, using the current standard of measurement (which, I hear, is something that thyroid advocacy groups are trying to get changed). It’s unbelievable to me that anyone like, LIVES through their day with a higher TSH than that, because at that level my exhaustion was so extreme.

 

Gluten and Dairy and Diet

After my diagnosis, I went gluten- and dairy-free, hoping that dietary changes would help me avoid taking a prescription. People ask me if that made a difference. I don’t have a gluten allergy, and yet–YES. It took a few weeks, but it made a difference in my energy levels.

I also supplement with a great B-vitamin complex and Vitamin D, among other supplements that help.

 

MD vs. DO

When I talk about my doctor to Andy, I call her–with total love and respect–Dr. Flowy Pants. She’s a Doctor of Osteopathy that I switched to. I didn’t know that DO’s existed. They are actual vetted doctors who went to medical school, but who look beyond symptoms and examine the body as a system–such as what gets in the way of the body’s normal healthy functioning, or what causes might be in the environment.

I LOVE having a D.O. How did I find her? I was randomly (thank you, Universe) assigned her when making an appointment.

She does not wear a lab coat. She has worn flowy pants and Danskos every time I have seen her. She didn’t act impatient with me, the time I started crying in her office. She has not put up a fight about ordering full panels of blood work so that I can rule things out–she seems to understand that I’m not trying to be a pain in the ass, I’m just trying to do this kind of crazy thing: heal my body.

If you don’t like your MD, check out your provider list and find a DO. If you’ve already got a condition and your MD just wants to dump you on a prescription and that’s it? Get the hell outta there. Change your primary care physician to a DO. (NOW).

I’m not trying to hate on the MDs–many have positively influenced my life. Unfortunately, as it pertains to this auto-immune condition, more than one MD has followed what seems to be an MD protocol that simply does not work for myself, or for many of the patients I’ve spoken with.

 

Prescriptions and HOLY SHIT I Feel Better

Even though I cleaned up my diet and took supplements and even did six months of acupuncture, I was still symptomatic. So, I went on the “holy grail” of thyroid prescriptions, a generic form of Synthroid. This line of prescriptions is completely synthetic.

Six weeks later, I was officially ready to throw in the towel on that. I felt zero difference in any capacity, unless you count that I felt really numbed out and depressed and cried a lot. That could have been coincidence, of course–I’m not blaming the prescription so much as I’m just sharing my personal experience.

I switched to Armour, a “dessicated natural thryoid” prescription that contains T3 and T4.

Within 48 hours, I swear to Goddess I felt different.

After one month on Armour? I was waking up in the morning at 7:30, on my own, without an alarm clock, and without that desperately tired, “Oh god, if I could only sleep longer” exhaustion.

Needless to say, I LOVE ARMOUR.

I don’t want coffee as much, because I don’t feel like I need it.

I have a ton more energy.

My immune system as a whole is doing better.

In fact, I didn’t even know it was POSSIBLE to feel this much better, I had become so accustomed to a low-grade tired feeling.

 

In Summary

If you’re tired a lot, yes–there’s mind over matter. There’s positive thinking. There’s taking responsibility for your shit. There’s eating more salads and exercising.

There’s also…the possibility that a biochemical cocktail has gone awry in your body. So, hey–get tested.

If you get tested and have something, forget “being realistic” about it. You deserve and can find your way to optimum health.

If you have a thyroid condition and have just been dumped on whatever prescription your doctor is most comfortable with, and you don’t really feel better, try something else. In my case, I am bananas about Armour. If something else works for you? Awesome.

(And no, I’m not a paid endorser!).

 

A Final Note

It would be my preference if you didn’t email me to share your thoughts about this blog post or this condition.

Instead, use the information for yourself as you see it appropriate to do so, and if you know someone who has been suffering from symptoms that they can’t explain, perhaps forward the URL to them in the hopes that it’s helpful.

While I appreciate any insights you might have, I’m finding my own way with all of this, and notice that whenever someone well-meaning starts sharing their findings with me or offering me suggestions for other things I might consider or try, I am quickly overwhelmed.

I’m feeling really awesome about where I’m at with things, and look forward to a return to full health.

~ with care and love ~
Kate