Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Christmas of my choosing

This is the first holiday season that I decided to step outside of it all, to celebrate in my own, spontaneous way without the obligations of tradition. My family has honored my wishes, and I made no plans for Christmas. I bought no presents, I sent no Christmas cards, I put up no decorations. The other day, a friend invited me and another friend to her place on Christmas Eve, and I accepted. First we are going to Phoenix and Dragon, a large metaphysical store that I have always wanted to see. Then we are going to her place to do angel readings with angel cards. I have no idea what that means, but my friends know, and it sounds good to me. Then we will eat a wonderful lasagna dinner.

On Christmas Day, I'll be having a channeling session over the phone with Jean Tinder. I had a channeling session with her a few years ago, and I believe I was her very first client. I still have the recording of that session. She has done many sessions since then, and I have been hearing wonderful things about her from our spiritual community. The reason for this channeling is to enlist the support of my angels during this move. I choose their presence in every moment, and I know they are surrounding me right now. Sometimes their presence is so intense that tears stream down my face for no reason at all. The angels are thrilled that I know they are there, and I am using these sessions to communicate with them with words. I need other humans to be their mouthpiece. Of course this is not necessary in order for them to continue to support me, but words are icing on the cake, so to speak!

And that is how I choose to spend this Christmas season!

Not only is this year coming to a close, but life as I know it is coming to a close. This is my last weekend living alone. I have always loved and even insisted on living alone. I've always said that I am too set in my ways to get married. I eat when I want. I come and go as I please. I never make my bed. I answer to no one. Freedom has been very important to me.

I think I have been making up for the lack of freedom I endured during the times I've been locked up in psychiatric hospitals.

But those days are over. I will never be locked up like that again, and I know it. I am going for something new, and it will begin the day after Christmas. That's when the movers are coming to pack up all my stuff, then the next day they will be moving me into the new Peer Support and Wellness Center. And life as I know it will be over.

The year 2007 was the year of 9, which means completion. The Quantum Leap happened on 09/18/2007, which is 9/9/9 in numerology. It was a powerful day. Jodie flew in from MN to spend it with me, and I learned about this new job opportunity right after she left. Everywhere I look, I see people changing their lives in dramatic ways. I have known about that date since 2003 (?) but never really bought into the reality of it until after it came and went. The rest of the world is waiting for December 12, 2012, which is the "official" date of the Quantum Leap -- or the end of the world or whatever you believe about these times. So, yes, that is a legitimate date as well, and I will be observing it simply because there is much power in mass consciousness, and that alone gives power to that date.

Now that the year of completion is over, what is 2008? It is the year of ONE, beginning on January 1, 2008. The other 1/1/1 days are January 10, 19, and 28, then October 1, 10, 19, and 28. This is the year of new beginnings. It is a year of forward movement, of stepping into new realities, new lives, new dimensions. I can totally see it already. And the newness for me begins this Thursday. I will say goodbye to the nicest apartment I've ever lived in and hello to the nicest house I've ever lived in.

I am so grateful to be alive. As ama would say, "It's the bomb."

The next time you hear from me I have already stepped into my new life. See you on the flip side!

I want to leave you with an earlier post from a year ago: Expect a Miracle in 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Trying Something New

I don't write much about MS because I choose to stay in denial about it. But the truth is, this last year has shown me that I really do have MS in spite of everything I do to slow its progression. The things I do are daily exercise (ideally), avoiding all processed foods (ideally), and taking supplements (ideally). Okay so I don't stick to everything 100% of the time, and I do cheat with lazy days and junk food, but for the most part I do pretty well.

I talk to people with MS who walk with canes and have a hard time speaking and seeing, and I see that I am incredibly lucky. I know that each person with MS is different when it comes to the progression of the disease, and I am very grateful that mine hasn't gotten as bad as it could get. Multiple Sclerosis is what it is, and it will progress no matter what method of treatment you use. I have a milder form of MS, so I believe I have more room to try different ways of treating it. Many say I am gambling with my health by refusing the medical treatments available today, but for me, it feels like more of a gamble to use treatments which only serve to weaken the immune system. MS is an autoimmune disorder, and it just makes logical sense to me to have a healthy immune system. So that's the approach I am taking. If it's a gamble, at least I feel well while gambling. I rarely get sick, in other words, and when I do I can usually fight it off without medical treatment. Not always, but usually.

With that being said, this year I have noticed more ongoing MS symptoms than I had before. My legs are often full of pain and stiffness, they go to sleep easily, and I am unable to walk as freely as I used to. Running is out of the question, although I can still trot! I am not at a point of using a cane, but I can easily see that coming. I can't walk down steps without hanging on for dear life. The house I am moving into (the Peer Wellness Center) is loaded with stairs, 4 flights total, so this has been a concern of mine.

When I first learned I had MS, I joined all kinds of online groups of people who have MS and I learned a lot from them. One group was called "Low Dose Naltrexone" (LDN), and they all decided to use LDN as their treatment approach. The anecdotal evidence was so compelling that I decided that if my MS ever got to the point that I really needed something else besides my current "Best Bet Diet" approach, that LDN was what I would try.

Naltrexone is an old drug prescribed 30 years ago to heroin addicts to block the brain's opiate receptors so that users couldn't get high. Needless to say, the heroin users didn't like it, so the drug became obsolete.

My therapist (who I don't see anymore) told me that Naltrexone could be used in people who self-injure so that they would HAVE to feel the pain in all its intensity, thus stopping them from self-injuring.

I thought, okay, another controlling torture drug. Chilling.

Anyway, not to get too off base here, Naltrexone was taken back then at 50 mg. It works much differently at lower dosages, one doctor discovered. He used it on his patients with AIDS. To learn more details than I can possibly write here, visit the Low Dose Naltrexone Homepage.

In a nutshell, your body produces natural endorphins at night while you are sleeping, and Naltrexone, taken at lower dosages (3 to 4.5 mgs), stops this process just enough for the body to decide it needs to release more natural endorphins to make up for the lack of them caused by the Naltrexone. More endorphins means stronger immune responses, which is something I didn't know before. This is why it works for many autoimmune disorders, and the BEST anecdotal evidence comes from people with MS.

This doctor has done some scientific studies as well, as the findings are always favorable. More studies need to be done, but because the drug companies would not profit in any way by bringing back this old, inexpensive drug, they aren't about to fund any studies. Instead they will continue to invest in keeping the current treatments for MS and other autoimmune disorders alive and prosperous (for them).

The doctors I have talked to about prescribing LDN are not aware of it enough to feel comfortable prescribing it. In other words, they don't have drug reps banging on their doors with abundant supplies of samples :grin:

So I am on my own for now in getting it. Without a prescription, however, along with a compounding pharmacy, I have to buy the pills from a Canadian pharmacy that doesn't require a prescription, and I can only get them in 50mg tablets.

And so I did. After playing mail tag with the post office for 2 weeks, I finally got the package yesterday.

I filled up a 50ml container with distilled water, dissolved the 50mg Naltrexone tablet in the water, then used a medicine dropper to take 3ml of the water. This dosage is equal to 3mg of Naltrexone. I can go up to 4.5 mg, but I am starting at 3 mg for now. If it works I will stay at that dosage. If it doesn't I will go up to 4.5mg. The LDN effect doesn't work if you take 5mg or above.

Last night was my first dosage. I am writing about it here so that anyone with MS can know once and for all if this is a viable option or not. We will learn together :o). It is supposed to be effective within 5 days of the first dose, but I swear I felt a difference this morning. I was able to climb down the stairs to the fitness room without hanging on to the rail! It may be a placebo effect, but the objective is to see improvement, which I did even if it was all in my head.

I will keep you posted.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Week in New England

The trip was great! We left Monday night, just as New England was getting its first snowfall of the year. Of course I assumed our flight would be delayed or canceled, and I was ready. It was delayed about 20 minutes so they could add more fuel in case we had to land at JFK. But we landed in Maine as planned. The view outside as we were landing was incredible. Beyond words. We don't get snow in Georgia very often, and when we do it's minimal. So seeing all the snow was a real treat. I loved every minute of it!

When we landed safely, all the passengers spontaneously applauded.

We stayed at a bare-bones hotel that said they would leave our keys taped to the office door when we came in, and we could register in the morning. This was a very small town, obviously. They had a diner down the block that had the BEST food. They were on the Today Show because of their Lobster Rolls, so of course I had to order the Lobster Rolls. They were delicious!

So the next morning we got up early and drove to the respite center in Maine. They were so hospitable to us and devoted all their time to showing us around and answering all our questions. We were there the whole day. They believe in mutual peer support, which means there is no helper and no helpee. There is no "sick" one and no "well" one. Many of the paid staff also use the respite beds at some point. They didn't have rules (except a few necessary ones like no drugs or sexual activity in the center), and their policies were scarce as well. They emphasized open dialogue, honesty, relationship, and community. If there's a problem, it is addressed by all people involved, and everyone is heard. Negotiations occur. Rules are unnecessary.

I was impressed with their philosophy, and it was in alignment with Shery Mead's training.

Speaking of Shery Mead, we met with her and Chris Hanson after touring our second respite center in New Hampshire on Thursday. She showed us their training schedule for when they come to Georgia in January to train our new staff. I REALLY like Shery and Chris! They are like-minded souls. They get it. We are incredibly lucky to have them help kick-start our center!

We're naming it The Peer Wellness Center for now. That may or may not change.

I am really getting a handle on what it is we are doing, and it is simply groundbreaking. I saw that through this trip. It's freaking me out how HUGE this is, and how supported we really are by our peers in New England who are already doing this. I see the big picture. This is the next natural step in mental health alternatives. I can easily see these respite centers popping up all over the world.

While we were there, I heard that Soteria House has opened in Alaska. Soteria was the first ever respite center. They lost their funding and shut down, which is what happens to respite centers. But Soteria House is the most famous and most ground breaking -- and now they are in operation again! This is excellent news!

Hmmmm, I wonder if I'll ever see the snow in Alaska....

The video is an array of short snow scenes I took while driving.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

It's not about me anymore...

Everyone keeps asking me how my job at the Peer Support and Respite Center is going, so I thought I'd write a post to catch y'all up.

I haven't moved into that beautiful, big house yet, but I will soon. We just now got the utilities turned on. Furniture buying comes next. It's a lot of space to furnish, so it will probably take some time!

Tomorrow I will be going to New England to tour Respite Centers up there. As far as I know there are only three that exist. These places are scarce around the country. I'm going to find out why they are scarce and what works and what doesn't work. I'm going to learn everything I can during this trip. We'll be there all week (I'm traveling with two others), and from what I am hearing, New England will be getting its first big snowfall tomorrow night, right as we are landing. Yikes! I bought my first pair of snow shoes. Yes, my first. LOL! Who needs snow shoes in Georgia? So this will be an adventure. I have a laptop, so I will (hopefully) be able to keep up with my online life. I also have a new cell phone! This also is a first for me.

Next week we will be holding interviews for the job positions at the Respite Center. Then we will all begin training with Shery Mead. If you don't know who Shery Mead is, go to As far as I know she is the only expert in the country on Peer Respite Centers.

On a personal level, I am still in awe at this opportunity I've been given. I am past the shock phase and onto the the deep appreciation phase. I doubt that will end anytime soon. It just keeps growing with every step we take toward opening the Center.

I have never been so committed to anything in my life. It's really showing me what I am made of. It's showing me that there is far more to life than the box I'd been living in. It's showing me that I truly love people and I can work with people. It's showing me that I am competent. I am not perfect, but I am good enough just as I am. I don't have to change who I am at all. I do, however, have to change the paradigm I've been living under for many years.

My life has always been about me me me. I'm not saying I've been heartless or inconsiderate -- quite the opposite -- but my giving has always been on MY terms. I am learning it's not about me anymore. It's about community. It's about relationship. It's about interdependence.

Up till now, it has never been about those things for me. I have been isolated and protected. I have been around people several times a month, but the people I have been around are the same few. My life has been predictable and stable and without too many surprises. I have been in control. God forbid that someone else has control. But this is not about control or ego or petty crap. This is about cooperation and community and building relationships. I never knew I could do this, but I can, and I like it. Yes, it is fulfilling!

Even though the Respite Center has not opened its doors yet, many doors are opening for me. I never knew they existed in the first place.

It's not about me anymore. It's about us.

In other news, my friend, Beth has moved to Kansas. If you watch my videos, you know Beth. I miss her terribly already. We are still in touch by phone and email (thank god) but it is so sad to know she is not coming over this Saturday to go film some videos or go thrift-store shopping or go out to dinner. It just breaks my heart that she is gone. But she and I both know that change is the name of the game now. She got a great new job in Kansas, still working with peers and training them just like she did here. They truly need her expertise and wisdom in Kansas. I used to live in Kansas, in fact, I spent a year at Topeka State Hospital in 1984. Beth and I tend to lead synchronistic lives. We both got interviews in the same week, we got our job offers within hours of each other, and we are both relocating to houses with a 444 address. We are both shifting paradigms, too.

It was Beth who took me to view the 444 house to see if it was a good place for the new Respite Center.

It was.