Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gimme a smile

I don't ride trains very often, I ride metaphorical trains more often than the regular sort (just see my previous posts). However, it's usually a kind of half hearted intention of mine to use public transport more regularly, sometimes when it rains it pours and then there's times when I can go on a months long drought of PT (public transport) experiences. In the last few weeks I've spent my fair share of time on trains, more out of necessity than good 'green' intentions, it's been to save my energy for things other than driving and navigating traffic.

Most times I ride on PT I am reminded of why I don't like it and occasionally think 'oh yeah, this isn't so bad'. Today for example, I experienced both sides, the dual nature of riding a train. My trip to the destination was fine, the return home not so. As I stepped on board to head home I noticed that I'd chosen a carriage that was pretty much full, quite the contrast to the roomy trip I'd had just a couple of hours earlier. A seemingly nice and fairly regular kind of woman shifted to make room for me, I thanked her politely and sat down. I quickly recognised that there was a group of teenage boys (early teens) sitting to my left side when I heard them laughing over silly jokes in the paper and using the 'f' word. I considered turning around and requesting that they not swear because I found it offensive, but then considered that it could make the next 25 minutes kind of awkward for me.

I solved the problem differently by popping my headphones in and turning up the music. In my head I imagined an ipod ad being made in this very a scenario, with the slogan borrowed from another company 'it's times like need headphones'. Unfortunately the headphones did not block out the smell wafting from the feet of those teenage boys, that was to be something I just had to grin and bear. (As an aside, I think that the only time teenage boys are of any appeal are when they're your own or you're a teenager yourself). Speaking of grinning and bearing, I don't mean grin too literally, because people who do that when they're alone and on PT can quickly become dubbed a person to steer clear of. Note to self, consider this approach next time.

As if the story thus far isn't enough 'fun' for a 25 minute train trip, I then noticed the seemingly regular woman who sat next to me had started to tickle my bare shoulder with her long bobbed hairstyle. I glanced sideways through my sunglasses (essential item when on PT, helps avoid that uncomfortable eye contact that can happen) to see that she was nodding off. I wondered if she would wake up before her head actually hit my shoulder. In my head I was debating whether or not it would be ok if she rested her head on my shoulder. As I dialogued with myself in my interal debate she jerked upright, seemingly realising she was dozing. 'It's that time of year' I thought to myself, I can't blame the woman for feeling tired, surely now she will sit upright the rest of the trip or get off soon. Nope, she did neither, she continued every 2-3 minutes to touch my bare shoulder with her hair and scratch that same shoulder with her her jacket , followed by realising after around 30 secondas and tilting herself upright, only to repeat the pattern. I would say I continued the conversation in my head for around 5-10 minutes about whether or not if she chose to actually use my shoulder as a pillow whether I'd take it up with her, or just have compassion for my fellow human being and leave her be.

I came to decide that no I did not want her head on my shoulder and should it occur I'd be nudging her promptly. I tuned out from all that was going on around me and just enjoyed my music from that point on, vowing to blog about trains upon arriving home.

Before I finish up here, I need to mention my 5 hour trip between the country and city the other week. Who you sit next to on a longer journey like this is pretty critical, I like to suss out the others and get a vibe. Our seat numbers were chosen for us, so it was pot luck really. When I found my seat I felt grateful, I was sitting in a 2 seat row facing another 2 seats. The girl next to me looked decent and like she wouldn't cause me any distress and the older 'Grandma' looking woman opposite seemed fine too. However I still secretly hoped they'd both be getting off before our final destination so as I could have leg room.

Early on in the trip I became hopeful that 'the Grandma' would be leaving us soon, I mean, getting off the train. This false hope was ignited by behaviour that made it seem as if she was touching herself up before she was to meet her family, yes I decided she was going somewhere to stay with her family for a while. The way she spruiced herself up was a little strange though, she was pouring water from her waterbottle onto her hand and using it to moisten her short grey permed hair. Now, as you could imagine, pouring water into your hand and getting it to your head is no easy feat and not really the sort of thing you do on a train. I reconciled this strange behaviour in my head by telling myself that it's probably just a generational difference in 'social norms'.

A little later I realised something strange was going on with this well presented 'Grandma', as for the second time in the trip she took out a packet of 'wet ones' or the like and lifted her handbag up to wipe the entire thing, then setting it back down on the seat next to her. She did this at least three times during the trip, my mind quickly went to making sense of what she was doing by diagnosing her with 'Obsessive compulsive disorder'. Upon diagnosis I decided to let it go and went back to reading my book properly (rather than just staring at the pages, distracted by my fellow traveller). The woman's beahviour actually caused me no trouble whatsoever, until she purchased some kind of disgusting hot quiche from the train kiosk. The smell of it made me feel sick.

So that's my most recent public transport stories, if you didn't laugh atleast once this whole time then I think you could atleast give me a little smile now, couldn't you?

I know I'm not alone in this, please do share your own experiences in the comments section!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The practical aspect: How I healed in 2010

This post is in response to the December 19 promp from Reverb10– Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011? (Author: Leonie Allan)

If only I truly knew what had healed me! I think it was a combination of factors, I tried many therapies this year and I believe each and every one had a positive effect and contributed to my healing from hyperthyroidism. I tried to cover all my bases including western medicine and alternative practices.

For the first five months of being unwell I was diagnosed incorrectly with depression and anxiety. Once I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism I was told it was most likely an auto-immune condition, it took four more months and a second opinion before the truth was acknowledged that in fact my illness had been caused by about 2 years of consuming dangerously high levels of iodine in a soy milk. Hence, my healing journey had to be really holistic and depended alot on me trusting my own intuition to guide me to the truth. Once I knew the truth it still took time to get my medical professionals on board (eg. initiating my own tests to prove my theory).

The list of healing techniques I employed includes, but is not limited to:

health psychology
intuitive counselling
naturopathy (super dooper herbs)
bowen therapy
endocrinology (contact me for Dr's name)
Louise Hay's 'You Can Heal Your Life' approach
Home made vege juices
Caroline Myss's 'Anatomy of the spirit' & 'Sacred Contracts'
bio-feedback testing
Sarah Wilson's Thyroid related posts.
Alkalising the body (here is an example of a resource)
Knowing I wasn't alone in developing dis-ease as a result of excess iodine consumption.
Writing both here and at Inner Beam and self-expression in general (metaphsyically the throat/thyroid is about self-expression)

If I've provided a link it means that person or resource comes highly recommended and I'm happy to share with you, if you'd like any further info on any of the above practitioners or practices please e-mail me.

Aside from the practitioners I went to see and the books I read, it was my own intuition that also helped me to heal. I had to honour my own knowing and stay strong in the understanding that I know my body best, because what I was being told by others didn't always resonate as truth for me (particularly when it came to specialists). I know that following my nose and doing my own research helped alot in understanding what had caused my illness and how to treat it.

Another big factor in getting to the bottom of what was happening with my health was speaking with Lindy Stratford, who is a highly skilled psychic. She helped me through an hour long phone session and subsequent follow up, employing her counselling skills and working with her intuition to help clarify many of my questions. Her guidance helped me to feel confident I was on the right track and to understand the lessons I was learning during this phase of my life. Lindy also helped me to be able to identify more quickly the 'truth' in situations that would come up in future because I identified that we'd already spoken about it. Lindy was very accurate and has such a great way of being honest and supportive, I highly recommend her to anyone who's interested in working with intution and enjoying outcomes beyond the 'ordinary'.
In 2011 I would like to be healed by finding balance in my life, through love and laughter and working in a vocation that truly suits me and that I find satisfying and energising.

Please do share this post with friends or in places that you know people could benefit from my experience and learning, I know that the tips and support I found online were a critical part of my healing process.

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's nearly Christmas time, things are a little quiet here at The Answer Is Writing, that's because there's alot of word action happening on Inner Beam. I'm participating in Reverb10, a challenge for the month of December where I've signed up to respond to the prompts they provide in order to reflect on 2010 and manifest for 2011. It's been quite the challenge I must say. Please do take a look over there, where The Answer is still Writing.

Wishing you a very merry festive period, may you enjoy a break and time with family and friends and stay safe.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Change is coming

Image from

I keep hearing from those around me who are 'in tune' that change is coming -and I can feel it too.

Today I felt inspired to start the process of change right here in a very tangible form. So you may notice that The Answer Is Writing has a new look, it's had a nip tuck in places and I've added 'Oriental Love', which is because I simply love oriental things. From time to time I will bring the oriental aspect into my posts; who knows I might just do a whole post dedicated to something along the oriental lines.

More change is likely to occur here, however the content remains the same- unpredictable.

Now is a great opportunity to say thanks to my readers and supporters; writing this blog has helped me to feel a sense of community and I love when people offer feedback or just let me know they're dropping by once in a while to keep up with the latest goings on.

It's also been great to hear from fellow thyroid warriors who have been dealing with all that it entails, healing is certainly a journey and to share in it with others is powerful. So to all of you please do keep in contact and feel free to post comments or questions here; while some of what I share is quite personal I am writing through choice and a sense of empowerment, I feel honoured to share with you. Apart from aiding my own process I also do it to encourage others to reflect and share- so don't be shy.

You might be interested to check out Inner Beam where I am blogging on a new topic (as chosen by Reverb10) every day until the end of the year, daunting and exciting! If you're a blogger or journaler I dare you to try it!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The best place to see the light is in the dark

'Just when I could bear it no longer came something amazing- clarity, hope and a vision of something bright and wonderful, something that makes my heart flutter.'

I was offended a few weeks ago when a certain practitioner referred to my 'inner turmoil' during a session, which he suggested affects my energy flow and essentially my well-being. I didn't blame him for saying it, I was just confronted by the words. He said it so matter of fact, like it was plain to see. No one has ever said such a thing to me, well not so directly. It took about three weeks for me to come to terms with it; I didn't dwell on it, but it sat uncomfortably. The way in which I eventually came to terms with his comment involved my inner turmoil peaking to the point that I could hardly bear it any longer. I wished I had some drugs to make it go away, but Nurofen plus and anti-thyroid drugs hardly cut it and I don't do drugs anyway- apart from alcohol. Hours later I chose to 'do' alcohol. I needed some relief, space from the intensity of the emotions running rampant, hormones egging them on. I knew I was reaching a critical point, I was sick and tired of how things had been and frustrated, confused and scared. I felt overwhelmed with no real answers.

Before you ask, no I haven't been meditating lately...and yes I think I probably need to return to that practice. I'm not really trying to read your mind, you're probably not wondering about my meditative practice at all, it's just my conscience speaking loud and clear and perhaps it's mixed with some advice from my 'wise one' on my inner.

Anyway, I blew off some steam with organic rose and some loud music, oh and a few verbal blows in the direction of the boyfriend. Lucky for both of us he could withstand the force of the storm just long enough until it passed. Most women would understand that when the gales of our emotions whip up and combine with a hormonal surge that only a woman knows, that we're a real force to be reckoned with. The best that we can hope for in such times is that when the storm passes there's been minimal damage. Luckily I awoke yesterday morning feeling alot better and all of a sudden ok with the concept of 'inner turmoil'.

Perhaps that's not the whole truth, the rose and loud music did not make me feel all of a sudden ok, but I'd found a new story about inner turmoil and it had settled things for me. My new story goes something like this: Inner turmoil keeps things moving, it can wake you up when you're not seeing something for what it is, inner turmoil drives some of the best artists and creative talent we've ever seen. When we're stirred up inside we get restless and it moves us and those around us in different ways. Sure I'd probably prefer to be moved by something more fluffy, more pink and love like- oh how perfect it would be. But that perfectionism is not necessarily helpful, it's one of the things that I'll probably work with for the rest of this lifetime, when I say work with I mean 'do battle with' and try to keep in check. It's very sneaky and pushes and pulls to get it's own way, consequently it creates inner turmoil effortlessly.

The more I resisted the imperfectness of the turmoil and the prickly abrasive feelings on the inside the stronger they seemed to get. They say that what we resist persists; it sure does! So I made peace with inner turmoil, rather than berating myself I simply found a new perspective, a more compassionate and realistic one, my new story about inner turmoil tells me that some of the very best creative work ignites from this place. The main thing is not to keep it inside for long so as to avoid an explosion or implosion of some kind. It's essential to find a way to make it ok, tell yourself a little story about it that makes you feel better, normalise it and find strength in knowing just how human you are! This applies to anything you're judging right now, you get to choose the story, throw out the old book and write a new one. The new story and acceptance meant I became open to a shift, divine intervention.

Through a sudden infusion of charism, your inability to make sense of life's challenges, coupled with the emotional weight of feeling as if you are living without purpose or direction is transformed into the knowledge that each movement in your life is divinely ordered. Myss 2001.

Just hours after my acceptance of the 'inner turmoil' concept being applicable to moi something shifted. Just when I could bear it no longer came something amazing- clarity, hope and a vision of something bright and wonderful, something that makes my heart flutter. It was something I'd known all along, but had been to afraid to believe in, to know. In order to find it I'd had to get lost, I'd had to face the fear of not knowing in order to know how amazing it is to actually 'know', to understand that I must not give up on what I want and  need. This month I wrote a post suggesting that 'I don't know' is the new black, in recent times I have donned the black attire and gone deep. I've felt the pain and sadness and wished for the old and familiar, for something I could know for sure and wrap myself in to feel safe. I felt like I was living in this dark space of nothingness, yet filled with vast potential and it was out of necessity, not choice. It was thanks to the scary, lonely and confronting darkness that eventually I was able to see the light. When it appeared it shone out as clear as day and I recognised it as truth because tears began to fall. The greatest sign of a beautiful truth, of real love, is that it can move you to tears.

When your life plans are suddenly interrupted, you can choose to view that event as a 'contract intervention' rather than a crisis. What symbolic vision gives you above all is choice- the choice to see events as arbitrary and antaganostic, or as blessings that are part of a plan in which you have some say. Myss 2001.

When I was counselling women that sometimes happened, one or both of us would get a tear in our eye or a shiver down our spine when a significant 'truth' had been realised. Another amazing thing about the presence of truth is that when it comes it can appear in the simplest of forms. For me it started with the title of a book at the library leaping off the shelf at me, which then became books...which evolved miraculously to become a story in itself, a story of the future and the past that showed me something real in the present moment. I'm talking about my future direction here, I hesitate to use the C word, let's call it Vocation for now.

Vocations can be many things: They may be calls to do something (become self-employed, go back to school, leave or start a relationship...) or calls to be something (more creative, less judgmental, more loving, less fearful). They may be calls to or away from something; calls to change something, review our commitment to it, or come back to it in an entirely new way; calls towards whatever we've dared...ourselves to do for as long as we can remember.... Gregg Levoy (Myss 2001).

(I can not believe just how accurate this explanation of Vocation is in the context of my life right now).

I guess that the dark and the inner turmoil has it's purpose. Although I said earlier that it would be nice to be moved by pink fluffy love rather than the tragic 'inner turmoil', it leads me to ponder if they're not one and the same? I suspect that the love and light was wearing a dark black cape, it was disguised and I didn't always know what it was, but that's the whole point of this illusionary world. Right? Once in a blue moon we have this kind of an experience, where we go swimming in the depths of darkness just so as we will be able to recognise the light for what it is, lest confusion gives us a break..

The above quotes are referenced from Caroline Myss's book 'Sacred Contracts'. I have just begun reading this amazing book and each and every page thus far is full of wisdom so relevant to my life and recent experiences. As I read I was excited to find several passages that further explained what I had written about in this blog post yesterday, so I have added them in where I think they fit best.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Facing Fatigue

Yuck, I don't like the word fatigue, it makes me feel tired and weak. I'm feeling a bit that way anyway today, fatigue seems to have crept in to my life increasingly in the past two or so weeks. I'm no stranger to fatigue, it's been a part of my life for atleast a year and in the last 8 or so months it's been a serious hurdle to being able to live life as I'd like to. My mind will have an idea about what I'd like to do, I then have to consult my body and we either do it regardless of low energy and just push through because I really want to do it. Or my body decides it's all too much effort and I stay still and rest. The last couple of days it seems that pushing through would just be unkind and way way too hard, so I've been fairly still. Feeling this way truly isn't fun, but I recognise that my best chance of feeling well right now is to accept that it is what it is, not to delve into 'what's wrong with me?' and getting grumpy with my body. So this morning I decided to choose gratitude for what is, I think about why I'm lucky, why things are just fine...and that's all there is to it.

I also went outside for some fresh air and sun (through the clouds), I admired my plants and how much they've grown with the rain, I listened to the birds song and realised that I'd never truly appreciated the sounds they make, I'd just not felt an appreciation for it and hadn't been able to force it. Today it was nice to hear the birds and for the first time I understood why my Mum comments on enjoying listening to the birds. I picked some of my mint and brought it inside and made some mint tea. I took my herbs from the Naturopath which are meant to pep me up and some magnesium which does wonders. For my morning tea I chose almonds and a banana over my home made cake to avoid sugar and to boost my energy with some nutrient dense food, I'm committed to nurturing my body today. I hope the fatigue will fade and energy and strength will emerge.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Find Joy

'Get back into the flow of life, find the joy' were the words of advice my Naturopath offered on Friday. Your new mantra is 'I have excellent health, I am in balance' she told me. It was just the inspiration I needed and I decided to do it fairly quickly. I contacted a friend who I'd been wanting to catch up with and organised a night out in Chapel St at a cool bar/restaurant where they do an amazing cocktail. The boyfriend came too and we had a great dinner and plenty of conversation. I referred to it as my Saturday night debut, because I haven't really been out in the city like that for quite a while.

I found joy in just being there, in amongst it and feeling just fine. I found joy in the moments where my boyfriend missed the point in conversation with my friend and said something typically male. For example, she told us she was thinking about the possibility of her fairly new boyfriend moving in with her when she moves into the place she's bought next year. She spoke of the idea with a level of hesitation, which other women read as seeking some advice or reassurance and then we then promptly offer the said reassurance or gently probe for further information. Before I'd had a chance to do any such thing my boyfriend quickly contributed to the conversation with some financial advice 'You could get him on the lease and negatively gear it' he suggested.' I had to laugh, he had completely skipped past the discussion about how she felt about the idea, the pros and cons, worries or hopes and offered a logical viewpoint to ensure she knew it would be a financially viable move.

We continued on, catching up on family and friends, discussing the future, sharing thoughts on marriage and babies as comes up amongst women. Some stories shared were a little sad, relationships not working, closeted sexuality, same-sex marriage but very much a normal part of dinner conversation when girlfriends catch up. The boyfriend after some time felt compelled to ask why we discuss 'such depressing things' so my friend attempted to change the topic to cricket. I was impressed with her level of skill in doing so, as I really could have come up with nothing on the topic myself. The cricket conversation faded out very quickly and turned to eating disorders, where the boyfriend chimed in with a suggestion that KFC would be a quick fix, because it's so delicious I guess?

Although it was a bit tricky finding common ground for discussion, we mostly gave up and just left the boyfriend to interject with jokes or inappropriate comments wherever he felt the need and ensured his drink didn't stay empty for long. I found joy in the evening, alot of joy. To have dinner and drinks with a great friend and my boyfriend in a classy bar/restaurant was awesome. It was nice that the two of them got to know each other bettter and even though I subjected the boyfriend to some ridicule on the train home about his comments, I did really find him very amusing and he made for a good laugh throughout the night. I also made a note to self to avoid putting him in that situation again, particularly when the friend and I have so much to catch up on.

So that was my joy, yesterday. I also went for a walk in the sun and loved it. Today my joy involved watching Gossip Girl and reading the paper. It's only 3pm, I've got plenty of time to find more. I might even bake a cake and en-joy a slice!

What brings you Joy?

Not in the mood for Joy today? Over the whole trying to be happy deal? You must read Sarah Wilson's latest article where she talks about the benefits of not being happy. You'll feel like you've been given permission to turn that smile into a frown once you're done.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Is 'I don't know' the new black?

So I decided it's about time I blogged, apart from the fact that I feel like writing, I also think it's about time I did. I have been out wandering in my local suburb, enjoying the sun, stopping for a bit to eat and feeling increasingly inspired. As I sat at lunch, on my own, which funnily enough has become one of my favourite things to do; I observed two women sharing some documents that had patches of colour on them. They appeared to be doing some kind of creative business, they also seemed to be friends. I liked how it looked, two creative women having a really good time and doing business. I observed something inside saying 'I want some of that', I also recognised that it's something I have experienced before. I like how it used to feel, spending time with a friend/colleague sharing ideas and inspiration, I like how it feels when I think about it being a part of my future.

Perhaps my opening paragraph seems general or a little vague, but that's ok, right? It's ok to sometimes just sit with thoughts, feelings and impressions without having to summise or make conclusions. This is one of the ways we can allow things to unfold organically, rather than forcing, pushing, over thinking. This is exactly how my blog posts are written, it's why I often begin with a pretty vague and open paragraph, because I really have little clue what I'm going to write, I just let it flow and at the end I am often surprised at what I've written. I usually think, oh ok, not what I thought I might write, but obviously what I needed to. I think they call it automatic writing. I've been practising this 'allowing' lately, just allowing myself to experience things as they are, to do a little research and then just sit with it, go with the flow. All of this is about how the next little while is going to unfold for me and the direction I'll take when it comes to work, to life. I'm starting from scratch, I've recently moved to a new suburb, I have no job and my health is not yet strong enough for me to look for work. What am I to do but dream a little?

I don't have any definitive answers to the question posed by others which is something like 'what now?' or 'what will you do for work?'. I'm glad to only have ideas though, rather than being freaked out by the unknown I am truly embracing it. Consequently others might be a little freaked themselves. I recognise that they themselves would be worried if they were in my situation, but what they don't know is that this is how I roll...or at least how I'd like to. It's sort of hard to explain this to someone who's never really contemplated this type of an aproach to their future.

I have some visions and impressions of how things could be, they're developing as I write- as I stroll in the sun and as I speak to inspired people. I have ideas on how I'll make my visions become reality, but I'm in the brainstorming phase right now, and we can't rush a creative process. My intention since I've been unwell is that my life will never be the same again, that things won't look or be the same. It's no surprise that a creative process is essential to support my intentions to come into fruition.

I won't deny that it would be nice to give a confident and concrete answer when the question of 'what are you going to do?' is posed because that would make things easy in the moment the question is asked. But it would also mean disregarding my wise one and disappointing my heart, consequently dampening my Inner Beam; which in the long run just creates sickness and misery. So I think that 'I don't know' just became the new black, and we all know that black can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Living in the moment

The time is always now.

This morning I was looking forward to a sleep in, to wake only when I was ready. The boyfriend was up and gone early and I heard nothing of it, but it can't have been much later when my sleep in plan was ruined by an alarm. My alarm, I hadn't switched it off and it woke me at 7:55am. I considered going back to sleep, but was disturbed by a fly buzzing, trapped behind the curtains. I rest a little and got up, putting off the sleep-in I've been dreaming about until tomorrow.

It's been a big few weeks for me, after atleast two months doing little other than hanging out on the couch and milestones that involved being able to drive a car to a Dr's appointment and hanging washing out, I was looking at much bigger things coming my way. The first was moving back to Melbourne, leaving the safety and support of my parents and beginning to fend for myself, with some help from the boyfriend. Driving was no longer just around the corner as it was in the country, it was often trips of 15km or more. I became responsible for feeding myself again, thinking about what I needed in advance, purchasing ingredients and preparing. The list of such mundane day to day tasks goes on, you know what I'm talking about. I had a week to get used to looking after myself in Melbourne until I would be tested again, boarding a plane to Queensland and having a week long holiday there. I was a little nervous about such relatively significant things happening and the demand I'd be placing on my mind, body and emotions.

I had troubles stopping the worries about all of the action that was looming in my very near future, though it was all exciting, I worried how my body would cope after being sidelined for some time now. One of the most helpful things I have been able to do to reassure myself in such times of worry is to focus on the present moment. I ask myself, is everything ok right now? Often when I check, I smile, because everything is perfectly fine in the present moment and I am ok. Spending some time focussing on how 'ok' I am right here and now really helps me to feel a sense of calm and peace. Sarah Wilson wrote an excellent piece on this very topic recently called Is everything going to be ok?  it came at a time where I was getting caught up in all the less positive things and had lost contact with that part of me that is eternally peaceful and ok.

So I got on that plane to Queensland and among other things I went out on a catamaran on the Whitsundays, I had my haircut, went shopping, swam in the lagoon, ate out, enjoyed coffees and read the paper, I bought books at a second hand bookshop, wrote postcards and relaxed. It was fun, I was ok. I must confess that sometimes it was tough, I got tired and grumpy. I don't want to have to admit it, but sometimes I was quite the test for my boyfriend, snapping over little things.

The gorgeous Airlie Beach

Not only does an overactive thyroid make you tired, it can make moods and emotions extra hard to deal with. My usual patience is more often absent than present. I think more than anything though I was upset with myself, I struggled to accept that I was not up to doing everything that I would like to and that I was feeling tired. At first it was unconscious, I was just grumpy and easily annoyed, but after some bath time and reflection I realised what was going on. I have heard it simpy explained in buddhist podcasts I listen to by Tara Brach when she speaks about this kind of thing, referring to it as the two arrows. She says that the first arrow is just what is, as it is eg. I can't go for a walk without becoming exhausted. The second arrow is when we place a judgment on it. eg. I am useless because I can't just go for a walk like a normal person, what a drag I am on this holiday, I should be able to just do it. Alot of this kind of stuff came up for me, after 2+ months of having very little pressure to do anything, of just being able to do exactly as I felt and with very little company, I found myself struggling with the concept that I was now spending almost all of my time with another and that my limitations often became his.

In the months prior to this I had been able to mostly manage the intensity of my moods and emotions by spending my days alone and evenings with my parents; I would rest alot and if I was still really struggling with my mood in the evening I would escape to bed and rest, the rest would make things better. It's hard to feel relaxed when you're constantly exhausted and your body is hyper and flooding with adrenaline. So all I could do to help was stay very still and take time out for myself to allow my body to calm down a little, my mood would follow. Salt baths also really helped, I found the water soothing and calming, the salts help the muscles to relax. I didn't get much time to do all of this on the holiday hence I was extra challenged by my condition. On the upside my health had improved significantly, so I was atleast able to get out and about. It's funny how sometimes we 'cope' better when we're quite unwell and incapacitated as compared to being just a bit unwell and slightly slowed down.

We returned from a fantastic week in Airlie Beach on Saturday and on Monday we moved house, the boyfriend and I have moved in together, another milestone. Moving is a tiring process, but totally for a good cause! Today is my first day to relax, I don't have to go anywhere or do anything, my old place is all tidy and goodbyes have been said. Our new place is in reasonable order and there's food in the fridge. I have a kettle and lots of yummy tea to choose from, I even have some decaf plunger coffee if I feel the need.

And today I can relax, knowing that yesterday I ticked an important task of the list in relation to my health, I had a radioactive iodine uptake scan on my thyroid. Results will arrive with my new Endocrinologist today. I shall update on this process and the news here shortly. For now, it's aurevoir.

If you like The Answer Is Writing you might also like Inner Beam.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The answer is reviews?

I've been a little absent from The Answer Is Writing lately, in this case no news does mean good news. I've been feeling a bit better and getting out and about more. I have also been trying my hand at writing coffee reviews on Friends of mine have joked that I'd make a good food reviewer, because I am quite fussy about where I go for my food and coffee. I'm less fussy about dinner, dinner is dinner, essential but a bit boring. But coffee,breakfast, morning and afternoon tea and lunch, well they are important to me. I love having lunch out, even better, brunch. It's something I haven't been able to do for over two months for two reasons. A) I was too tired and unwell. B) I was in my hometown where the options are bakery....or bakery, for breakfast and lunch. I never eat at bakeries by choice when I'm in Melbourne, because until I was 18 that was the only choice I had and I've had bakery food up to here. My folks have a coffee machine at home and we sourced my favourite rye bread from the supermarket in the next biggest town, stocking the freezer full of it so as not to run out between trips to Coles.

Eating out in the hometown is a bit disappointing, there isn't a bakery in town that can compare with Mum and Dad's food. Therefore I happily ate breakfast, brunch and snacks at home, when I wasn't drinking coffee I had a delicious chai sourced by Mum at a market. It's called Chai Rocks and can be found at; it was so good I went through the first bag in a week and then re-ordered via the net. It's so real that it has whole pieces of star anise and you can see the spices in it, just like chai ought to be.

So I have my favourite cafes around the bayside 'burbs and I decided to write some reviews on them from the couch in the country. The next best thing to being there is reminiscing and feeling like you're there as you mentally scan the cafe, taste the coffee and peruse the menu so as to come up with the words to describe it well.

I've been back in Melbourne for 5 days now and have been to a few cafes, two that I'm new to and one old favourite. The old favourite being Las Chicas on Carslisle St- they do the most amazing chai! With the chai you get one of those special honey sticks in a full cup of honey, it feels truly decadent as you pour the delicious milk from the teapot through the strainer (because it's made with real tea!) and add as much honey as you like to this creamy delight. There's enough tea in the pot to re-fill your cup a few times. I always have it with soy, which gives it a full creamy flavour, but seeing as the Endocrinologist has warned me not have any soy products I am drinking skinny milk :-(. Though it was good it just wasn't the same!

Ok, that's all I have to say, just wanted to let you know that the answer is still writing, I've just been elsewhere. If you're interested to check out some of my reviews here are some links:

P.S I got great news on Friday at the specialist, my thyroid levels are down to nearly within the normal range, so while I'm still hyperthyroid I am heading in the right direction. On the down side the endocrinologist wasn't good at listening to me about my belief that Bonsoy has played a role in the onset of my illness, in fact he was really stubborn even though he conceded it was a very real possibility that it was the cause. I found him to be very rude, every time I went to say something he would interupt me abruptly, making it very clear he would not open his mind, nor did he care to hear what I said. I was really frustrated afterwards, so this is the last I'll speak of it here because I just want to be positive, look forwards and let that go. He just doesn't fit with my expectations of a health professional and is now my ex-endo, I am seeing someone else next month who I have been told is empathetic and knows how to listen. I will update here after I have seen my new endocrinologist.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Spring Lovin'

You can find a little bit of Spring Love right here at Inner Beam; where I've posted some spring pics and a few words on the wonders of this beautiful Season and the Sun's offering of healing.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I've been told many times that doodling or drawing would be helpful for me; to tap into my creativity and be able to express it. Apart from writing it could be considered my only other creative pursuit. I have never been good at art, infact my drawings look like an 8 year old did them. I think my drawing development may have been stunted around then? By that age I had definitely discovered my love of words. In fact I remember being in prep and writing a story about a butterfly. My teacher said it was so good that she wanted me to make it into a book, with book binding and all! She sent me to the Grade 6 room where they had a computer to type out my story, illustrate and bind it. Obviously I felt very proud, because that experience is so memorable. Interestingly I have noticed that when I am doodling I prefer to write words rather than just drawing.

As far as art goes though; I think the following story says it all. I was in Year 8 and my teacher, Ms Cody, had taught me since Year 7. I tried very hard to make something decent in art because I wanted to be good at it and I wanted good grades. I had been working hard on a particular piece for a week or so and upon completion took it to the teacher for marking, I wasn't satisfied with it but it was my best work. She looked at it, sighed and said 'Ah well, at least you are a nice girl'. I think she gave me a good mark on it for effort and the fact that I wasn't one of the terrors of the class who painted their faces with the paint and put pin tacks on class mates seats. I was one of the ones who fell prey to sitting on pin tacks thanks to the boys in the class.

So anyway, I have been doodling, and I'm being brave and sharing it here. I'm enjoying it and that's all that counts! I get and A for Artistically Challenging Myself :-) I dare you to try it!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A quick update

Today I've been further researching holistic GP's in Melbourne, so I called my top pick, a woman who specialises in thyroid disorders as the very first. Her receptionist informed me that the Initial consultation would be $500, and $350 thereafter- yikes!

So I ruled that one out, the next two I contacted were half price, around the $250 mark. How do I know who to choose? Do I choose based on location, whoever is more convenient, on their areas of interest, a gut feeling or whose photo I like the look of better?

I'm not exactly sure how I'll choose, the other thing is that neither of the my next two preferences can see me until late November. While it's not surprising it's a little disappointing.

I've also been looking into the role of sugar and it's impact on the immune system. It's not pretty! As of yesterday I'm getting serious about minimising....or removing sugar from my diet. I have done it before, it's not easy but after a while you do adapt. Yesterday I had testing on a biofeedback machine, it found that sugar is a big no no for me, I have some kind of intolerance to it, it's not surprising really. My blood sugars can go all over the shop if I don't eat proper meals or if I eat a sweet treat and nothing else I find myself feeling awful 2-3 hours later.

So I  have been busy since last night trying to put together all of the clues I've got so far from the research I have done and information shared with me by practitioners to try and properly understand what's going on with me. I have now decided that it's time to let go and relax, experience some inner peace and leave the busy mind work. Because I know that while it's important, that alone will not make me well, I need to give my body mind and spirit the space and environment it needs to heal.

So that's all for now, I'm trying to strike a balance today and chill out, relax, trust, accept and allow what will be to be. It is easy to think that I haven't done enough yet, that maybe I'm missing something, but that's the kind of thinking that can make one sick in the first place. So I choose to trust that I am on the right track and healing is happening, and so for now I let go.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Navigating health systems....trusting your gut.

As I have written about recently, I've been meditating, in order to help myself feel better and to give my body the space and tranquility it needs for healing. However, there's other things apart from meditation that I am doing for my Self as a part of my journey to feel well. I find that discussing what's going on for me with someone who can understand helps alot. It might be a psychologist, doctor, reiki practitioner, naturopath or chinese doctor. As I've written about recently, I have decided not to simply leave my health in the hands of a specialist, but to be pro-active in learning more about hyperthyroidism and the possible causes and cures.

I am trying to support my healing in a really holistic way. Fortunately my alternative health practitioners are open to working with conventional western medicine and employ an open mind and allow their intuition to offer me guidance. I appreciate this hugely, because I know just how powerful intuition can be. I know that science has it's place and is incredibly important; which is why I wouldn't deny it. But I certainly do question why some doctors and specialists are choosy about which science they listen to, I also think critically about the ways in which they come to learn their particular science; who taught them? Who decided what was to be a part of the curriculum and what wasn't? Which pharmaceutical companies are involved in doctor's ongoing education?

I know it's controversial to talk in this way, but I don't expect anyone reading this to share my views, I don't propose to know it all. But I do want to talk about my wonderings about the whole western medicine deal. This has come up for me this week because I called my GP to discuss with her about my belief that my condition has come about as a result of drinking the soy product Bonsoy. For those who don't know, Bonsoy was recalled just before Christmas last year after 10+ people became ill after drinking the product over an extended period of time. The people who consumed the product all had thyroid conditions as a result of the excess iodine. Just one eighth of a cup of Bonsoy contained more than the safe levels of iodine that we should consume in one day. I drank an average of 2-3 cups of Bonsoy a day for about 2 years. She was very dismissive of what I had to say; debating the science of it and telling me that the most common cause of overactive thyroids in young women is Grave's disease.

Ok, Doctor, I may not have a degree in Medicine, but I am thinking that if it is now known that 25+ people know for sure that their thyroids made them sick after drinking Bonsoy, and I don't have a family history of thyroid disease, and I was drinking 24+ times the amount of iodine that I should have in a day for about 2 years, and the medication for Grave's disease didn't work as expected in my first month of it not just as likely that excess iodine consumption has called my illness?

My final suggestion to the Dr was that my naturopath believed it likely that I had an excess of iodine in my system. The Dr then completely undermined the field of Naturopathy by telling me that they don't go to University and don't study bio-chemistry. And finally, warned me not to take any herbs from the Naturopath. She said I could see the Naturopath if it made me feel better to talk to her, but other than that, not to take on any advice from anyone other than my specialist. Uh, Dr, I can see a psychologist to talk, I see a Naturopath for a natural and holistic approach to healing and to learn from their wisdom. Just in case anyone is wondering, Naturopath's study for their degree, full time it takes four years.

So you can imagine how I felt after the conversation with the Dr, incredibly disappointed. She was afraid I was going to give up on the western medicine approach and 'go off with the pixies' or something. No, I am an intelligent young woman, trying to learn as much as I can about my condition so as I can make informed choices, because I want to get to the bottom of this and I want to be well! This means I'm going to explore various avenues for my own healing. I also listen to my own intuition and to people I trust around me. Two health professionals suggested I see the Naturopath that I did because they told me she has helped people with thryoid issues before; she is also personally experienced because she works with a western medicine Dr to help with her own thyroid issue.

I don't claim to have all of the answers, but I am definitely asking questions. Yes, I can get conflicting answers and it is sad when someone you like and wish to trust gives you advice that goes against what your believe in and what your gut is telling you. I am choosing to trust myself, while playing it as safe as I can and keeping the people with the knowledge close to me.

For now I don't have lots of answers, but I think all the questions are helping me to get closer. I also feel a sense of calm about things and trust that I am headed in the right direction with the right people. I also trust in myself and ability to listen to my own intution. Intuition might not be in the dictionary for GP's, but I am sure keeping it in mine!

If you've got a thought on this topic, please share them with me, I'd love to hear from you.

P.S Here's a link to find Doctors in your state who have studied at the Australian College of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine. I'm going to find one in Melbourne and see what they can offer, I shall let you know here!

Like The Answer Is Writing? You might also like my other blog, Inner Beam.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The beginnings of my journey with meditation

I'm no stranger to meditation, I used to do it every week at Yoga. I loved it, it was guided meditation so I wasn't really left to wander, my teacher's voice and guidance kept me on track. However I would only meditate once a week, very rarely would I practice on my own. In recent months I have been sporadically listening to a guided meditation on my ipod; it goes for about 45 minutes and I found that after the first few times of listening my mind was complaining 'this is so predictable' and my mind would then wander off, bored with listening to the same thing.

In the last month I feel as if I have been bombarded with suggestions to meditate. Yeah yeah I thought, good idea, intellectually I'm all over it. I have read the statistics, understood the psychology of meditation etc. As I've mentioned before, if I had $1000 for every time someone suggested I meditate I could afford a really amazing trip to Europe, greek islands included! The hassling started to wear me down and my wise one inside was asking why I wasn't listening. I did not have a good excuse. I wanted to be able to proudly state that I do meditate whenever someone suggests it, so I started.

My boyfriend's been doing a mindfulness course through work and has noticed that his daily meditation practice has brought about some very positive changes. I must say I have noticed too, he seems more positive and relaxed and I am enjoying the benefits of that. He's not usually someone to go on about things, he can be a man of few words, so when he started banging on about mindfulness I was surprised. I was quietly pleased that he had become so passionate about something as healthy as mindfulness and that I was not the only one in the relationship that would talk alot about a particular topic. At first it was ok, all the talk about meditation, but as he continued to ask if I was practising the meditation and I continued to feel like a school girl who was repeatedly turning up without her homework, I didn't like it. But the wise one inside of me was telling me to listen and would not allow me to tell him to shut up.

So every day for the past 10 days I have meditated, just by sitting still and focussing on my breathing, when thoughts come I return to my breath and let them pass. Sometimes the thoughts keep coming, often actually. On my third day I went into a beautiful peaceful space for part of the meditation and heard a voice inside saying 'ahhh, this is what it's all about'. That experience helped me to feel motivated to continue.

Aside from the peaceful experience whilst meditating I also noticed something else had changed; my mood. On my fifth day of meditation I noticed how happy and content I felt. It was so noticeably different because the usual feelings of anxiety that arise within were nowhere to be seen. It is a common symptom of hyperthyroidism to experience anxiety, in fact, if left untreated people can become psychotic. It happens because everything in the body is working too hard, the heart is beating faster and too much adrenaline is released into the body. Sometimes the feelings of anxiety are really hard to bear, and often the anxiety can lead to increased fatigue.However, something has changed recently and I am now feeling much more relaxed, I haven't noticed anxiety like I used to. I feel at peace with where I am and how I am. Worries about my health and future don't buzz around in my head and body like they were. I can honestly say that I have had times during the past few days where I have felt more relaxed and happy than I can remember in a very long time. I can just be lying on the couch watching television and notice these positive feelings and feel gratitude for how good I feel.

My circumstances haven't changed much in the last 6 weeks; I still have an overactive thyroid, I am still unsure what has caused it and when I will be well, I am still tired alot of the time, I still have low energy and I am still staying with my parents in the country instead of living life in Melbourne with friends and my partner.
However, the way I feel about all of this has changed, I no longer look to the future with fear. I can accept what might be without stressing over it, but I am also having positive thoughts and ideas for what I will be doing in coming months. These ideas make me feel excited and hopeful; while I still hold in my awareness that there's a possibility my plans will be delayed because of my health. It's not about disregarding reality or potential issues, it's about focussing more on the light than the dark and having the faith that I can do it, that I can manage this and I will be ok. I am not giving up and I am doing all that I can to support my healing. I am choosing to accept what is, whilst choosing sunny thoughts that help me to feel good in the now. There's no tomorrow, there's no yesterday, the time is always NOW.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Resignation...and letting go

One of my readers recently sent me a lovely e-mail sharing her story about her experience with thyroid disease. She asked me about how I managed my work situation back in May (being too unwell to work & consequently resignation). Blog posts from around this time in April and May can be found at Inner Beam; however at the time I didn’t write specifically about how I managed the experience of resigning from my job. I may not have even used the word resignation in the entire blog. Perhaps because it was quite a traumatic experience and at the time I was just trying to cope with what was happening and how unwell I felt. At the time I resigned I felt like the job was taken from me; not by the organisation, but by a higher power or something. I felt as if I’d had the rug pulled out from under my feet with my health and life up in the air. I had been crashing slowly over many months; but when I finally could not go on anymore; when I could barely get out of bed, that was when I stopped going to work.
Here's some background of what was going on in the months leading up to my resignation: I had been in the job, a management role, for only three months. However I had been with the organisation for just over two years. In January I moved house and began a new job in a new location within the space of 4 days.
In hindsight that is NEVER a good idea. Both are stressful experiences, even if they might be enjoyable or positive, change places stress on our system for some time as we adapt. My new drive to work was an hour in heavy traffic; disgusting. I absolutely hated the drive and couldn’t believe what I’d done, yet I didn’t regret moving house or the new job, I just wished the two were closer together.
So there I was, in a new role, with a big job ahead of me, it was a development role with a not for profit organisation and there weren’t great resources. I was also the only one doing my particular role, I was to employ others to help in time. Every night when I got home I thought about work, I had trouble getting to sleep because I was thinking about work. Even when I spent time with friends or my partner I would either be talking about work or thinking about it. I felt overwhelmed by what was expected of me, the faith that others put in me scared me even more- funny that, but it did. I had never really done much of what was required of me in the role; I had experience as a social worker with people or communities presenting their issues to you and then working with them to try to resolve them; but I did not know where to start when there were no ‘clients’ in front of me.
I began to dread each day, I also felt some dread at the thought of the national and international travel that would be integral to my role. Every day I got to work feeling weak and tired, sometimes anxious. I recall telling my boss that I found I wasn’t feeling truly awake until after 10am, I didn’t feel like my usual friendly self. I recalled that in my previous job I had only 10 minutes to travel to work and I would usually arrive ready for the day and feeling friendly. In hindsight I had some very real clues that something wasn’t right. I decided that it was all in my head and that I had to keep on pushing. I think that the more I denied the reality that this job just wasn’t working for me and that my body was really struggling the more anxious I got.
Just over two months had passed and I returned home from a work trip to Sydney feeling awful, I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I felt weak, fatigued, had lost my appetite and was experiencing high anxiety as well as dizziness. I tried to just lay low for the weekend. Come Monday I called in sick. I think it was during this week that I saw a GP. Many tests were run and no answers were found. Yes, my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was checked. No clues there. I have since found out that thyroid imbalance symptoms often exist well before it will be indicated in the blood. Two weeks later I still felt awfully weak and unwell, so I headed off to the country to stay with my sister for the weekend and to see a holistic health practitioner who uses a bio-feedback machine. I struggled to sit on the chair during my appointment because I was feeling so weak and depleted.
In the two weeks I'd been really unwell I actually managed to work from home in the second week; so I technically only had one week off sick. During that second week that I pushed through and worked I rested a lot on the couch. I really struggled to get through, and could definitely not have made it in to the office. I guess it was my determination that got me through, because as I look back now I think I was crazy to be trying to work and I can recall just how awful I felt.

On the Sunday afternoon that I was due to return to Melbourne (in order to be back in the office the next day) I felt awful and tired and could not cope with the thought of the trip back, let alone the reality that I would have to go into the office the next morning. The thought of my workmates expecting me to return in good health was horrifying, my state of health was so poor, I felt so weak and fatigued. I knew that as desperate as i was for things to be ok, returning to work was not going to happen. I was far from well, I was barely able to go into the supermarket with my sister because I felt so awful and out of it. The thought of returning to work had me in tears; it was around this time that I think I became consciously aware that my job stress was impacting significantly on my health. I also realised that it was unlikely that I would get well if I was only doing it to get back to my job. I could feel my entire being screaming to leave the job, to be free of it, it had been for some time, but I just couldn’t hear because I did not want to know.

On the Monday morning I called my boss and told him where I was and that I was still sick, I explained that I thought I needed a month off to get well and I still wasn’t sure what was going on with me; the only thing I could liken the feeling to was Glandular Fever (I had GF when I was 18). I stayed with my sister for four days until I missed my boyfriend so much that I just had to get back. Before I departed my sister's I warned him that I needed my dinner cooked for me and just needed a lot of rest. He accepted that and I made the 5 hour train trip to get back to him. He greeted me with gluten free spaghetti bolognese, as requested by moi, it was so good to be back to him.

 I stayed in regular contact with my boss, who I had and still have a great relationship with. He requested to meet with me only a week and a half into my ‘month off’ for my 3 month review. I knew that he wanted some answers and I made the really tough decision to resign from the position, because I knew that I could not promise him I would be returning full of energy at the end of the month. He needed this guarantee to grant me the continued leave. Resigning at that point was the best thing I could have done. It was a huge huge weight off my shoulders. That afternoon I felt revived and more energetic than I had in weeks. I met my friend at the local and we shared a bowl of wedges; life felt good.

That energy and sense of relief was to be short lived. The next day I went to stay with my parents and in those first few days with them the reality of what had happened hit me like a tonne of bricks . I think that in the first couple of days after I resigned I was in shock, because now I barely recall what happened. Soon enough the tears came and I started to feel the significance of what had occurred in the recent past. The pain was massive, it was something like heart break. I felt as if the job had been taken from me because of my health failing; I felt I'd had no real say in things, I felt like a victim of circumstance. I no longer see what happened in the same light, I am now grateful that I didn’t live that miserable stressed life, which was a lie, for another minute.
The next few weeks were tough, I came to many confronting realisations and worked to find acceptance of what had happened. I felt incredibly vulnerable and out of control. My health was still very poor, anxiety was high and energy was low. However it wasn't long before I was confident that the resignation was the right choice for me and gratitude crept in for the freedom and relief that leaving my job brought.
I’ve barely spoken about these few weeks of my life, I don’t think I've fully recounted the story to anyone; those who do know it were there for every step. To be very honest, the experience was heart breaking, to lose your health and job concurrently is really tough, but to walk away from an organisation you are passionate about and thought you’d be with for a very long time, that can break your heart.

I believe in the old adage that a problem shared is a problem halved; and that feeling like you're not alone is important for all of us; particularly during hard times. Therefore it is my intention that in visiting this blog you may feel a part of a community and that you are not alone. I hope that those of you who have experienced something similar, or are facing the challenge of walking away from something that is not conducive to your well-being, will draw strength from my story.
Here are my thoughts from earlier in the year, the many questions I asked of myself as I lay sick in bed which were the weeks prior to my decision to resign.

Wishing you the greatest strength to make choices that serve you, that support your health and vitality and bring greater peace and harmony to your life.

If you have a question for me or would like to share your own experience, please leave a comment or send an e-mail to

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The process of healing

Wow, what a week it has been. I have been staying with my parents for the last month now, the hyperthyroidism has hit me hard and left me incredibly tired, occasionally nauseous and dealing with heart palpitations. On Friday we headed off to Melbourne to see the endocrinologist and to catch up with my GP. On Friday the specialist informed me that my thyroid was still just as over active as ever; which was disappointing for both of us. Surprisingly I coped ok with the news.

Then off to the GP, who I adore, she is my favourite GP ever! She is so lovely and appears relaxed; I am truly grateful to have found someone I trust and can speak openly with. I don't feel like just another number. She takes the time to understand me and meet me where I am at. We chatted about my news from the specialist and all things thyroid related for nearly an hour. It was nice to have her to discuss things with and to normalise all that I'd been experiencing recently.

So the specialist has increased my anti-thyroid medication by double, I have realised that it is my role to not just sit on the couch and take the medicine, but to take an active role in my healing. I am calling people who I think can help and asking questions. I am being encouraged to continue asking questions to truly uncover the cause of my thyroid going crazy and overdoing it. Sarah Wilson's blog has truly inspired me, she has experienced both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism; the latter came over 10 years after the former for her. It started out as mine is now, way too fast, and then became way too slow.

My favourite part of her blog post is this:

If I could send a note to myself two years ago, it would say:
Dearest Sarah,  Please, please be kind to yourself. It’s your abrupt, impatient, push-yourself-to-limits approach that landed you here in the first place. Healing will come when – and as – you learn to be kinder and gentler to yourself. This is good news. It’s time to treat yourself well. From Me. x

Well don't I resonate with this! I am learning how to be kind and gentle with myself; to put my own needs first, because if I don't, how is it fair to expect that anyone else will? I could be waiting a long time.
I am the only person who can do the healing for me, others can be there to help, to facilitate, to offer guidance or suggestions, but it is me who must make the choices and discern what is right for me. The learning is all here for me; I have known this ever since I became unwell in April (see the beginnings of this journey here Inner Beam). It seems that I have re-opened to this many times. Sometimes just dealing with my symptoms and how I feel becomes all consuming; but then there comes a point where I come up for a breath and re-focus, re-commit to this journey I am on of growth, healing and forgiveness.

Yes forgiveness. Yesterday I had a conversation about this with a wise woman; she spoke about how different organs hold various emotions. We decided that due to my history of not putting my own needs first and focussing on others, there was surely a part of me becoming mighty pissed off about this. I haven't really been aware of such ill feelings, which means the feelings would be unconscious, they must have been going somewhere. The liver perhaps?

I opened to the possibility that there are feelings of anger and resentment being stored by my liver; that I have not necessarily been aware of, but that my liver or other organs have been dealing with. If you're interested in this concept that we store emotions in our body I can reccomend Louise Hay's 'You Can Heal Your Life' for reading, as well as Caroline Myss's Anatomy of The Spirit, which I am currently reading. I am very interested in understanding such concepts more so and have ensured that I have people and books around me who can help me on this path. Alongside these more holistic approaches to healing I am also continuing with the western medical approach and taking my anti-thyroid drugs.

Today I am venturing to see an acupuncturist, she is a family friend and I haven't been to see her since April, when I first became unwell.  I have been having Chinese Medicine treatment in Melbourne since May and I think it helped to keep me reasonably well, all things considered. I believe it is essential to continue with it,  it is very powerful.

The healing process is a bit like a ball of wool, unravelling and revealing more. Sometimes my thyroid is like a kitten, pushing and pulling on the ball of wool, forcing things to shift and change, more and more is revealed. Sometimes I am the one pulling the end of the string, sometimes it's friends, family, my partner or the health professionals in my life. The process is truly a joint effort, I am grateful for the input of all. Thanks to my thyroid for pushing me beyond my comfort zone, thanks to the family, friends and professionals for supporting me as I am pushed and prodded by this illness. Thanks for being there to hold me and help me to feel safe. I am hugely grateful to my wonderful partner for hanging  in there and being the support that he is in this time. Even though it feels like we've known each other for a long time, the reality is that in the time that we have known each other I have been unwell for at least a third of it. I think he's pretty amazing.

Like The Answer Is Writing? You might also like Inner Beam.

Monday, September 6, 2010

More grey than blue..practicing acceptance

I recently wrote a post about arriving in struggle town. It was about how crappy I was feeling. Interestingly the post took a positive turn as I explored things other than how poorly I felt. It took me to places I did not know I'd go; discussions of a future trip to France and my memories of how I came to fall in love with all things French.

Today I am also spending the day in somewhere like Struggle Town. A couple of things have happened that didn't feel great, or just a little uncomfortable. In my already unwell state the skies seemed to be more grey than blue today. I was nearly not going to write; why would you spread misery Sarah? I asked myself, how about today you just lie in bed and keep quiet?

Then I remembered my commitment to welcoming all that I experience, the good the bad and the ugly. Theoretically it's true, just that when I considered not writing I was really judging how I am negatively. Today feels something like 'bad' and I decided it was consequently 'ugly' and therefore I wouldn't be writing on my blog and exposing the ugliness. I like pretty nice things, blue skies, sunshine and butterflies.

It's a whole lot of judgment I placed upon myself on how I am in this very moment. I told myself not to write unless I had something positive to say; I couldn't be sure that I would. I find that I always want to put a positive spin on things, probably more for the sake of others than myself. This led me to decide that I wanted to honour the seemingly bad and ugly; because hiding this is to hide a part of my experience. I wouldn't expect others to hold back on the less pleasant aspects of their lives. I really like Ghandi's 'Be the change you wish to see in the world'. Today I am.

I want to see people being honest about it all. I want for people who don't feel well to be able to say it, experience it and not run away from it. Speaking of running away, you should have seen what I did last night! It was certainly not the first time I did it, but it was the first time that my own awareness caught me. I was feeling something, really feeling. I was really missing my boyfriend. It hurt. I picked up my phone and sent a text, then I picked up the computer and logged on to all my communication gadgets- facebook, twitter etc. I just wanted to escape the feeling, I hated feeling it and I knew I could distract myself. I managed to temporarily avoid the uncomfortable emotion; whilst also acknowledging what I was doing. I chose to go ahead with my plan to distract, because I wasn't sure what else to do, but I saw how I ran away from feeling. Awareness is the first step, it is key.

So I guess today the moral of my story is not to run away, not to hide. Be real and authentic and try not to be afraid of what it might look or sound like. I am now going to publish this post and do my best to accept it as it is; a day in struggletown, not much fun but not 'bad' or 'ugly. It is what it is on this very day. I choose acceptance.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Food v Pleasure- what is more nourishing?

image from

Today I'm trialling a new approach to writing, I am going to write on a specific and somewhat factual topic. The somewhat is my official disclaimer. Ok, there are some facts here and lots of opinion. I'm not a scientist, I'm a philosopher.

The question is, Food V Pleasure, what is more nourishing?

Last Christmas I asked my partner to buy me a book called 'The Power of Pleasure'. It was a book that suggested that the way in which we consume our food has much more to do with our health than the actual food we consume.

It was a theory I was very much interested in before stumbling across the book in a second hand book shop in Bendigo; I'd been mulling the idea over in my own mind for a few months previously.

I have tried many kinds of diets and approaches, I have seen naturopaths, nutritionists and psychologists to discuss food. I have obsessed over such ideas from the age of 18, perhaps earlier. Why did I start? To oversimplify it, because I put on weight and had low energy as a result of too many carbs and too much alcohol in my first year of Uni. Why haven't I stopped? Because it is clearly such a passion for me. It started as an interest while in school, food and health were my favourite classes, then turned into an obsession and is now one of my great passions.

At times I have desperately wanted THE answer. Are the vegetarians right? Is the naturopath correct in suggesting eliminating most of my staple foods- wheat, dairy and sugar? Is the dietitian right when she feels sorry for this confused young woman with all her ideas and recommends she get straight back into that food pyramid (weet-bix and cow's milk for brekky)? Is my Dad right when he tells me balance is key? As he washes down his manufactured and refined jam fancy biscuits for his morning and afternoon snack with a good old cow's milk latte.
I find myself wondering (worrying?) could I have coeliacs and not know it? Am I just wheat intolerant? Or is it just the extra nasties added to many wheat products that's not good for me.. or anyone; but I'm just super sensitive to them. Ok, I admit I am still quite confused about what's really good for you. I am channelling this energy into a healthy appetite for learning about all things nutrition, whilst keeping an open mind.

I know that much of our well-being is affected by our thoughts and feelings, it leads me to wonder if the answer to good health does lie in pleasure? Is it as simple as the book suggested? Is it the way we feel and think about our food that is key to our health?

The book suggests enjoying our food and all sorts of pleasures courtesy of our 5  senses. I question whether we truly only have five senses, but I digress, that discussion is for another time. Now, back to pleasure, I believe that our emotional and mental state when it comes to food is a vital factor in our well-being. For example, if we truly believe that something is bad for us or the food is 'naughty' it then becomes guilt inducing, hence we are likely to become uptight during the meal.

So what happens when the body is anxious? Our muscles tense and adrenaline courses through the body to aid with the fight or flight response. The wonderful flight or fight response is essential for if and when we encounter real danger. It helps us to be super strong to fight and survive or super quick to run away. It is an overused and overstimulated response in our modern western world. An imminent deadline, an intimidating boss or a stressful driving situation among many others is enough to trigger our body's natural response to danger- adrenaline.

Adrenaline is a hormone secreted by our adrenal glands when we feel under threat. The brain can not distinguish between real and imagined danger; therefore it may send signals to the adrenals to start 'doing their thing' just because we have an irrational fear of birds and a sparrow lands at our feet.

Consequently, if we are stressed or anxious at meal times our body is preparing to fight whatever is about to be consumed, or run away with fear. Here's a little science from someone who has basically been studying humanities and languages since Year 11; when adrenaline is present in the body, our digestion ceases to function. Think about it, the whole point of the 'fight or flight' response was so as way back in the day, if we were confronted by a dangerous situation we would be able to defend ourselves, or run very quickly. Adrenaline helped our bodies to make us capable of more strength, speed and agility aswell as stopping the organs such as the digestive system from working during this time so as all the body's energy could be used solely for survival purposes.

The key here is that when we feel anxious and are not in a state of pleasure, perhaps because just looking at pizza elicits feelings guilt and remorse, perhaps causing an anxious response. Even if the adrenals don't kick into action, when we feel uptight our organs and muscles are no longer relaxed and won't function at their optimal; hence digestion will not be 100%. The same would apply if you are stressed and anxious for other reasons; our digestion is just not going to work nearly as effectively as if we were in a state of relaxation and pleasure.

This is why I think there's truly something in the teachings offered in 'French Women Don't Get Fat'. The book teaches us to source the finest and freshest produce and to make wonderful food from using herbs and other wonderful natural sources of flavour. It encourages using all the senses, for example, when shopping at the market for food the books discusses engaging with stall holders, listening to the wonderful hustle and bustle of shoppers, smelling the wonderful scent of a ready to eat peach and touching your produce. It seems to me it is the French woman's version of mindfulness.

According to my reading, French women prepare their food mindfully and it follows that they eat in the same way. They are aware that eating too much bread in one day or gorging on pain au chocolate is not true pleasure. Pleasure is about all 5 senses being engaged in the sourcing, preparation and consumption of food. The table is set, food can be consumed with beautiful music and or company and it is done so at a table that is set to honour the meal time. There is no rush, no tv, no fast food. Meal times are to be treated with respect. In understanding this I suspect that it is far more likely that the French can enjoy their food, stimulating the senses, rather than with feelings of fear or guilt attached. I propose that consumption of a meal in such a way means that ones digestive organs would be relaxed and functioning, as opposed to 'shut down' in a state of anxiety.

Having explored how the emotional and mental aspects can impact on our physical being, let us now return to question the importance of the quality or type of food we choose to eat. Is our good health truly all tied up in eating in a state of pleasure or is there more to it?

I believe that if all we ever consumed was pizza and beer with great delight, we would probably digest these ok, at least as best as is possible and should consequently absorb nutrients as best as possible (this is in the case of those without wheat or gluten intolerance/allergies).

However, if we were to find ways to consume a wide range of foods, the most part being those that are provided to us from the earth, in a state of pleasure and gratitude, following something similar to the French approach to food, I propose that we could then absorb many wonderful nutrients and sources of energy from our food. Now this could just be the ideal approach.

I have certainly not developed a definitive answer to how we can eat in order to achieve optimal health, but I believe that pleasure is a significant clue, as is the types of foods we consume and how close they are to their natural state. I must say I think different approaches work for different people; so there is no one answer. Stay tuned for further questions and musings on the energetics of food eg. manufactured, processed, natural, fresh, canned etc. and their effect on our health.

If you've got thoughts on the topic please leave a comment, I'd love to hear them.

Like The Answer Is Writing? You might also like Inner Beam.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A love of learning...

I love this rose too!
Image from
The topic of the day is Education. Why? Because I want more. Why today? Because I have just been reading about Sarah Wilson's interview with Edward De Bono, a man well known for his ideas about thinking and the 'Six Thinking Hats'. I felt that the following words as written by Sarah captured the essence of what The Answer Is Writing is about. It also got me to thinking more about Education and theorists, taking me back to my time as a teaching student.

Sarah wrote:

We’ve been raised, he says, to think in order to “hurry up and find an answer”. Instead, thinking should be about being open and random and exploring possibilities. It’s the process that matters. And from it, value – not answers – emerge.

I feel that Edward's thoughts reflect how I feel, and offer one possible explanation for why I believe the answer is writing. I don't truly anticipate this blog is a blog of answers in the straight forward black and white sense. The word 'answers' is a metaphor for the process that happens when I write and what is revealed as I partake in the process. The name of this blog suggests answers come from writing; it would be more accurate to say that value comes from the exploration that is synonymous with my writing.

Not only was I impressed with Edward De Bono's words because they are align with my own sentiments, his work has been of interest to me since my grade six teacher used his theory of 'The six thinking hats' successfully in our class. His theory provides a process for thinking through topics, for example you use the Red hat for feelings, Black Hat for negatives etc.

Eight years later I was studying Education at University, and learning about Edward De Bono and other educational theorists. I think these studies of the psychology of education were of the greatest interest to me. I felt that their ideas could extend well beyond the classroom. My favourites were Edward De Bono, Howard Gardener and his Multiple Intelligences and Vygotsky's  'zone of proximal development'.

As much as I enjoyed learning about these theories, I didn't enjoy the actual practice of primary school teaching. After four different placements across two years of study it became quite clear that my heart did not lie in the classroom. Looking back I can see some of the clues that Primary Teaching wasn't the path for me. One would be the panic attack I had on my very first primary school placement while walking with a teacher around the school yard. We were going around and around and kids were yelling, screaming, running. I remember feeling incredibly dizzy and anxious. I rationalised it by believing it was low blood sugar, from not eating my morning snack yet. I didn't mention it to anyone and I certainly did not know what a panic attack was. In hindsight I think it was one of the first clues that my heart and soul was not wanting to pursue teaching.

I also remember sitting in my first Psychology 101 class, I had chosen Psychology as my elective and there were very few of my fellow teaching students in the class, it was made up of nursing, arts and social work students. As I sat listening to my lecturer, completely engaged and excited about studying Psychology a few tears rolled down my cheek. I wished I could spend all of lectures feeling this way, learning about such interesting things. I'd fallen in love with Psychology. I think the realisation that something could make me feel this way in addition to the knowing that the rest of my course seemed far less appealing in comparison brought the tears on.

Two years later I was quite miserable studying Education and made the decision to transfer into a Social Work degree. A few years later after I'd graduated I re-discovered Vygotsky's work whilst attending the International Narrative Therapy Conference in Adelaide. A whole hour was dedicated to how Vygotsky's work had influenced the development of Narrative Therapy and what his theories could do in supporting our understandings as therapists. I can't truly explain why, but I was captivated. It was the highlight of the conference, I found the rest fairly bland, apart from the session on polyamoury (having many lovers/relationships), that was a real eye opener! We heard from people who have chosen polyamoury about how it is possible, even wonderful, to have more than one lover in a very honest, adult and fair way.

However it wasn't polygamy that drew me in, it was hearing about Vygotsky that did it. When I returned home from the conference I began researching more on the Internet.
Vygotsky worked in the area of psychology for 10 years before he died in his late 30's after contracting TB from his brother whom he was caring for. In those 10 years he achieved a huge amount, he developed and wrote about 18 or more works, including those still very prominent in educational psychology today. If you're interested to learn more, I suggest googling him; I did and you can see a list of many of his works here. His history and achievements are amazing.

I still find certain areas of psychology extremely interesting, and the reason I didn't pursue it as an undergraduate is because the course sounded to be fairly scientific, and I knew it would take at least 6 years more study on top of the 2 years I'd already done to become a qualified psychologist. I was keen to get out there working and chose Social Work instead. I don't question the move now, as I still feel little interest in taking up studies of behavioural science. But my passion for learning i still very much alive, I'd like to feed that flame some more.

I'm not too sure what I might pursue in order to fulfill and fuel my desire for further study yet. I think it involves some form of psychology, perhaps learning and education related, learning more about the mind body soul connection (metaphysics) and health and nutrition. I'd love to learn more about writing too, but not about academic writing, more about the creative, expressive fun kind of writing!

So I'm still riding that train, enjoying the scenery, embracing that which tickles my fancy. Next stop?? Who knows, perhaps I'll just keep chugging along for a while and enjoy the ride.
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