Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world my beautiful, vulnerable self!

Posts tagged ‘joint pain’

A Matter of Perspective

We See Family From Our Own Perspective

I ran into a fellow member of the dance community at our local county fair one night. We were reminiscing about the “good old days”. He told me the thing he misses most is the feeling of family that existed in the early 2000’s when there were parties and gatherings outside of just the dance venue. I listened but didn’t have much to contribute because I wasn’t part of the “family” he remembered during that period of time.

The truth is, I feel more of that family connection now, and have for the last 3 or 4 years, maybe a couple more. Before that, I didn’t have more than a couple of phone numbers, or connections on social media. I didn’t see any of my dance “friends” outside of our regular Thursdays and Saturday nights. I could probably count the people I called “friend” as opposed to “acquaintance” on one hand and have fingers left over.

I used to envy those who clearly had a connection that went beyond dancing. I saw people making plans, or coming in after having dinner together; sharing lives, holidays, vacations, and bonds I didn’t understand. From my perspective at the time, no one wanted to have that kind of connection with me.

I’ve since learned, to quote an old and tired relationship-ending phrase out of context, it wasn’t them, it was me. Many of those people were probably reaching out to me, but my rough, defensive, knee-jerk responses told them I was neither approachable nor amenable to sharing more of my life with them. After awhile, they moved on, leaving me oblivious to their efforts to include me.

You Have to First Open the Door

It wasn’t until I lowered my walls and offered up a bit of myself that things began https://www.flickr.com/photos/64738468@N00/25973076/in/photolist-3i7TE-fyVNaB-9aLW9G-4JgeJF-EUixt-pdT2Ek-63AteW-8vwter-bxo88F-cdcTPS-bVQBQg-5aG3Rc-6ktqzm-bxouRx-9NP8jK-drK3ho-cdcUgU-cdcX7q-cdcVCE-cdZyKj-BJPNDq-bxovfz-6knRQ4-fLRddW-9aHGR4-dKZQqf-bxo2tZ-cPQ6Sh-34jbLJ-pJefAw-6kt26u-8w3FD3-fLRas7-4RuNgv-cfEDAb-6XGTXx-adqDCb-RgBASk-fpsHxH-7eqpS1-ahPuom-269ugzb-cW79tG-6pwS4o-YrjQ9b-bo6Gr6-fq9GQm-fp2skU-6guFM-br7V4kto change. I let people see that much of my unconscious defensiveness was my way of hiding the pain I’d been taught never to let anyone see. The false set of beliefs I’d been given from birth said no one wanted to know I struggled with anything unless they were going to use it to take advantage of me. In short, my early education was as riddled with holes as Swiss cheese.

I developed a version of “normal” which was about as far removed from reality as that of anyone who’s grown up in a dysfunctional family. Granted, we all have at least a bit of dysfunctionality in our lives, but I’m talking about extremes.

For example, I grew up believing that having a few drinks every evening, and drinking to excess at social gatherings was normal. I didn’t share the desire exhibited by my parents and their peers, so I thought there was something wrong with me. It wasn’t until decades later I learned I wasn’t the one who had a problem. It was one of many reasons I didn’t fit in with my own family, and I’d learned to accept it as part of my reality.

Making Connections is a Learned Talent

Created with CanvaNot making real, deep connections was another part of my reality I believed was normal. My parents certainly had people I’d call close friends, but in hindsight, I think that closeness was simply a product of similar outlooks, and a common belief in self-medicating to escape a harsh reality. I don’t think they shared their vulnerability with each other, and frankly, they’d have been horrified at the suggestion. They wouldn’t have been comfortable on the giving or receiving end of something so deeply personal and honest. In their minds any raw emotions they shared while under the influence could be explained away by the alcohol.

The point of this post wasn’t to wander down memory lane and wake up the ghosts. It was to recognize how differently two people can see the same time and place. Borderline is probably medium-sized when it comes to bars; not a tiny, dark, hole-in-the-wall, but not a giant venue where thousands can gather on a busy night either. To be honest, for those of us who frequented it regularly, it was just right. (OK, so maybe we’d have liked a bigger dance floor, but for socializing purposes, it was perfect).

How each person views an event or situation is largely dependent on their own history. How you’re raised is, of course, a huge factor. You’re also influenced by painful, if not traumatic events. How you navigated those events, and the person you became once you’d healed (assuming you did), or established coping mechanisms affects not only how you see things, but how you interact with others.

Do You Build Walls or Bridges?

I know I’m not alone in building enormous walls, and creating coping https://www.flickr.com/photos/17367470@N05/34548761725/in/photolist-UCXrcB-ecCNUL-4zfgf6-dAnmf-ngJT8C-azZxsp-nqHgd-b6nZQ8-eM19w4-2cSiqbp-ax5dgA-27J7Psa-6LxpFR-2bRXjnz-pEj693-j4VCQQ-fmd2HZ-svmgQ3-2es7nPR-7AUKsG-GnaSGd-9KvniY-pzqY5Q-VkF76-25utPi9-aLKEgF-qa3JFd-7pVuMa-cMP8xf-K8vLgj-nEqYEz-JW6mY-fB5met-nqHga-aRccva-JWkte-aFcmuG-JW6n9-7Z3cY8-aLKvYc-AM33ua-5Jgt83-9hYUkR-cu1wuJ-9mTEYo-aR8L6v-28j4DAt-PBhbUU-emC61v-9yg7h6mechanisms which shield me, not only from the cruelties of life, but also from the things which bring joy, delight, and pleasure. The trouble is, while living in that seemingly pain-free place, you miss out on how a gathering place can take on the feel of a loving, accepting, non-judgemental family; something many of us weren’t fortunate enough to know.

Granted, I’ve met a few people in the last few years whose early lives make mine look look like summer camp. I’ve also learned it’s not about comparisons, but how you come through your own personal storms. Some learn to live better than they were taught. Others spend their lives huddled in a turtle shell, poking their heads out a little at a time until a painful moment sends them scurrying back inside where it’s safe—albeit desperately lonely.

Reaching Out to Those Who Instinctively Hide

Part of my purpose in writing posts like this is to hopefully reach some of those who believe as I once did that hiding away is the only solution. That avoiding pain at all costs is their only choice. I learned the hard way that you can’t hide from pain. You might avoid a lot of what could be inflicted by others, but you wall yourself away with your own demons. Often, that’s far worse than anything the outside world might inflict.

There’s a level of joy and comfort in human interaction that can’t be felt inside your own walls; inside your turtle shell. Sure, if you’ve never experienced it, you might say you won’t miss it. But I’m here to tell you, you do.

You miss it every time you see other people connecting, and know you’re not part of that connection. Your heart breaks a little more as you watch your friendly acquaintances plan get-togethers without you. The more you’re left out of opportunities to connect and bond, the darker your world behind those walls becomes.

Sometimes the Reward is Worth the Initial Pain

I won’t lie and tell you it was easy to break down those walls, nor that I’m Photo: David Derong/Iowa State Dailyanywhere close to finishing the job. It was, however, the best gift I ever gave myself. Coming out from behind those walls and becoming a true part of my community has brought me immeasurable joy. Just having people like a security guard at the fair remember me for my friendliness, even 2 years and hundreds of thousands of people later makes the pain of demolishing those walls worth it.

In conclusion, you don’t know how many lives you touch when you’re closed off from the world, much less, when you allow yourself to become an active participant. You leave an impression regardless. It’s up to you whether it will be one people remember fondly, and that brings a smile to their face and warmth to their heart, or one they remember as cold and off-putting.

Between you and me, I love knowing an encounter with me was pleasant enough for someone to remember years later, and that the memory brings a smile to their face.

Grateful for Every Little Thing Every Single Day

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I chose a little pain so I could experience a lot of pleasure.
  2. I’m grateful for the positive impressions I’ve left on people in recent years.
  3. I’m grateful for the sense of family I enjoy with my community.
  4. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of my own life, in hopes someone will relate and see they have choices.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, joy, community, music, solitude, insight, inspiration, motivation, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Could Inflammatory Foods Be Causing Your Joint Pain?

Pain: The Most Effective Universal Head Slap.

My post-Thanksgiving eating binges affected me in ways I should have foreseen, but didn’t. Sure, the leftover pie, cocoa and cranberry sauce put a few of the pounds I thought I’d left behind forever back on, but that was the least of my problems.

The knees which had been so cooperative in recent months; coincidentally since I cut out processed foods and sugar, started swelling painfully. When they also began to show signs of weakness, I knew it was time to get serious about my eating habits and cut out the inflammatory foods. The first to go was the sugar.

Since my memory isn’t what it used to be, I felt I needed some reminders about what other foods are inflammatory so I could limit or eliminate them as well. Sadly, the black forest ham I’ve been nibbling on or pairing with Swiss or pepper jack cheese had to go or be severely limited as well. As did the cheese.

Though my knees are still crying bitter tears by the time I climb into bed at night, they’re far happier than they were a few days ago.

How Do I Know What to Eat and What to Avoid?

Since I know I’m not alone in suffering the consequences of my less-than-perfect food choices, here’s a short list of foods to avoid if you suffer any symptoms of inflammation. These can be obvious like sore knees or tender sinuses, or a rash, or less obvious like some sort of unexplained internal discomfort or sluggishness.

These are some of the most common foods which are rated over -100 on the IF scale I’ve included below:

  • Processed sugar, as I mentioned before
  • Dairy including cheese, milk and yogurt
  • White Flour (so that means bread, pasta, cereals, and all of the other starchy delights made with white flour). Whole wheat flour is a little better, though still -89 for 1/3 of a cup.
  • Dried fruit
  • Meat (though to my surprise both ground beef and turkey rated fairly low on the inflammatory scale, -2 and -7 respectively)
  • Plantains

Researchers have even developed an inflammation factor rating chart for the foods we eat with a positive number representing anti-inflammatory foods and a negative one representing inflammatory foods. The higher the number in either direction, the stronger the food is for the applicable factor. The following chart from http://www.inflammationfactor.com shows how the numbers shake out.

200 or higher Strongly anti-inflammatory
101 to 200 Moderately anti-inflammatory
0 to 100 Mildly anti-inflammatory
-1 to -100 Mildly inflammatory
-101 to 200 Moderately inflammatory
-201 or lower Strongly inflammatory
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Sides of Food Choices

Checking foods on their rating chart will give you the inflammation factor, but be aware that the ratings, just like calories or anything else, are based on a particular portion size.

For example, 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli has an IF rating of +60 which is mildly anti-inflammatory while 1/4 cup of dried apricots has a rating of -56, or mildly inflammatory. But there are a few surprises.

A double cheeseburger from Burger King has an IF rating of -171, just a little higher than a cup of cooked, long-grain white rice (-153).

On the other end of the spectrum, many types of fish are strongly anti-inflammatory with Sable fish leading the pack with a whopping 703 for 3 ounces! Salmon and tuna are a bit lower but still in high enough to be highly beneficial. It’s no surprise to me to also find ginger and turmeric in the top 10.

Though there are surprisingly few foods which actually tip the scale at more than -100, I caution you to pay attention to the serving sizes. The food that may be only -50 or -60 for a small portion, say 1/2 cup of baked potato, will climb rapidly, the more you eat. And the more inflammatory foods you consume, the greater risk of harming your body.

What the Chart Won’t Show You But Labels Will

With all of the pre-made foods available these days, it can be more difficult to regulate the quality of what you’re eating. I thought I was doing well by limiting my packaged foods to those available at places like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, but even there, you have to read the labels. For me, I’ve found it’s just better to avoid them altogether. But I also enjoy cooking up huge batches of soup, stir-fry, chili and more and freezing them in single serving containers. Not everyone has the time or inclination to do the same.

When all else fails, I recommend reading the labels. One of the biggest surprises I got recently was comparing organic tomato sauce to good old Hunts. The ingredients on the organic sauce were sugar, tomatoes, and water. On the Hunt’s, tomatoes and water. You can guess which one I bought. A little label scanning also forced me to give up buying cases of Kirkland’s version for the same reason I passed on the organic variety in the market.

What doesn’t show up on the IF table is all of the preservatives and additives found in prepared and packaged foods today. I’ve learned that our bodies know exactly what to do with organic compounds like fruits, vegetables, and even meat, but give it something with a whole lot of letters and it says the same thing we do when we try to pronounce them. “Huh? What is this stuff and what am I supposed to do with it anyway?”

All I Have to Do to Be Healthy is Manage My Food Choices, Right?

So now that you have a handle on the foods you eat, the foods you limit, and the foods (if some of them can even be called that) to avoid at all costs, you should be feeling great, right?

Do you remember the arthritis ad which says “a body in motion stays in motion”? Well, take it from me. No matter how perfect your diet might be, if you sit on your butt all day, those joints and organs you’re working so hard to feed well are still going to suffer. We need to change positions frequently. Our muscles thrive on being subjected to varying degrees of stress from pushing, pulling, standing, sitting, lifting, stretching and anything else you can think to do with this miraculous thing we call a body.

Raising Your Own Bar

You know your own limits. Why not push them just a little? You’d be surprised how quickly those limits expand.

I remember when I first started regaining my dancing routine. I wore out quickly and had to rest pretty frequently. Now, I can dance an entire two-step set (depending on the partner. Some of them kick my sorry butt, but not as easily as they used to!) and follow it up with a killer line dance set. Unless the DJ tosses in Skiffle Time, I’m usually good to go for the next set of two-steps as well. If I get to the gym regularly, I find my stamina and strength climb more rapidly and I even sweat less (which is especially helpful with those back to back two-steps!)

In conclusion, I have learned, though I tend to need reminders, that I need to feed and move my body consciously. When I wing it, eat whatever sounds good, or worse, is easiest, and spend an inordinate amount of time in front of my computer or watching Christmas movies on Hallmark Channel or Lifetime, I pay the price in both lack of mobility and pain. As I don’t enjoy either one, it typically takes only a few twinges of pain to remind me to get my lazy self back in gear. For me, it’s dancing, walking or hiking. What works for you?

Above All, Tell
Yourself How Grateful You Are for the Positive Changes

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my body’s little reminders to take better care of myself.
  2. I am grateful for the resources available to help me make better choices.
  3. I am grateful for the love of cooking which makes it easier to keep healthy, easy options in the house.
  4. I am grateful for my dancing and my new hiking buddy which both help keep my body healthy, agile and aging much more slowly than people who spend a lot of time sitting.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; health, happiness, joy, love, friendship, good food, opportunities, challenges, lessons, success, rejection, writing, peace, hope, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Photo courtesy of FoodFacts PM via Flickr

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