As I stumble along the path towards recovery, I'm reminded of a very simple, but powerful fact. I am not alone. There are likely mi...

How to Exercise with a Chronic Illness

As I stumble along the path towards recovery, I'm reminded of a very simple, but powerful fact. I am not alone. There are likely millions of people out there also suffering from chronic illnesses that follow a similar pattern to my own. That pattern being, I'm feeling great one minute, and the next I’m sick again. Now I have to suffer for awhile and slowly creep my way back out of illness and into recovery.

This is a pattern I've struggled through most of my life. As a child, I was diagnosed with asthma, and I managed to catch every bug that went around school (and still do catch everything my kids bring home). Then as a teenager and young adult, it was depression and anorexia that plagued me and dragged me down into the depths of hell on a regular basis. Then as an adult, there was the illness that was both my pregnancies, several injuries including a car accident, and now, the fun of SIBO. Basically one thing after another. But don't feel sorry for me, it's just life. The good thing from a life of chronic illness is, I'm very good at getting back into shape. Because of this, I figure I could offer up some tips on how to get this shit done. Keep in mind, I am no doctor, physical therapist, or anything of the like. This is simply a lifetime of illness talking.
Yoga w/ Sebastian, April 2011
Making your health a priority is really the only solution. That means getting enough sleep, reducing your stress level, eating healthy, and exercising. Easier said than done, I know! But today let's just talk about exercise. Specifically for those of us suffering from chronic or frequent illness, because let's face it, it's a little different for us than it is for the healthy athlete who rarely gets sick. They can go run a marathon or push themselves to the max at the gym and not feel the repercussions those of us less fortunate in our health do. For us, exercise needs to be well thought out. If we push too hard, it can often result in an injury or making us sicker. If we don't push at all, we'll be stuck in the rut of no or too little exercise, which isn't good either.
Yoga w/ Oscar, May 2016
The first hurdle is that oh-so-fine line between figuring out when you need to rest and when you need to get off your ass and start doing something. It's easy to make the wrong choice. If you sit on the couch for one too many days, it's that much harder to get moving again. On the other hand, pushing too hard before you're well often means a longer setback. What I've found works best is to never allow myself to not move at all for too long. Even if that just means getting up and pacing around the house and walking up and down the stairs a few times when you're sick. And as soon as you're up for it, go for an easy walk or do some very gentle yoga or stretching. It doesn't need to be intense, it just needs to be movement. Our bodies were not meant to be stationary.

Kid yoga
The next hurdle is listening to your body. Pain is your body’s warning system, the “hey you're doing this wrong or pushing too hard” signal. The old adage of "no pain no gain" is simply not true, or not entirely. I would say a little discomfort is normal, even good because it means you're working muscles that haven't been used enough. But true pain is not good. You have to honor your limits. It's the only way to avoid injury. I injured my right knee when I was about 11. It's given me hell on and off ever since. Now with a weakened immune system, it doesn't take much to make it hurt. To keep from re-injuring it, I've had to learn to actually stop when it hurts. To NOT push through the pain.

Sebastian & me, 4/21/2012, after my first 5k
And finally, the big hurdle: getting off your butt and moving. Once you're feeling back to health, it's important to increase your exercise VERY gradually. I have a bad habit of pushing too hard too soon and it never ends well. But if you can do it gradually enough, you can get back in shape without pain, injury, or more illness.

Let's talk examples. Say I’m just on the mend from being ill. The first couple of weeks, I start very gentle. How gentle depends on how sick I was and for how long. But for the average illness that lasts at least a week, like the one I'm in the midst of now (damn forest fires kicking my asthmatic ass), I'd say it looks something like this:

Walk Yoga Run/Bike Rest
Week 1 1 mile, 2-3x/ week 15-20 min., 2-3x/ week 2x/week
Week 2 1 mile, 3x/ week 15-20 min., 5x/ week 1-2x/week
Week 3 1 mile, 2-3x/ week 30 min., 5x/ week 1-2x/week 1x/week

Then by week 4 I'm back to normal, except at a relatively low intensity. If I make it past a month without getting sick again, then I start increasing distance and intensity. I know not everyone likes yoga, and that is totally fine. If it's not for you, find something else that's equally stress relieving and can be done in a relatively low intensity matter. If all you do is high intensity exercise, you will have a much more painful experience of getting back into shape. I used to be that person so I get it. But at some point you just get sick to death of injuring yourself and realize, hey, if I don't listen to my body, this isn't going to change. After all, doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results is indeed the definition of insanity. So be sane, be nice to yourself, and your body will be nice to you in return.

Sebastian & me, 3/5/2013, after my first 10k
Depending on your specific health issues, you might be thinking it's not even worth exercising because you never make any progress. I feel your frustration as I have the same one. Progress the last, over 2 years now, has been at a snail’s pace. But I've been in really good shape enough times to want to feel that good again. Everything in my body functioned better, so I know if I can get there again, it will help my recovery. And exercising even a little is still better than none. I bounce back from each relapse much quicker than when I'm doing nothing. So basically, I refuse to give up. And I wish the same determination for you too! 😁


Do you ever have the feeling that you were meant to do something great? Something big and important with your life? Like maybe you'...

Achieving Greatness as Parents

Do you ever have the feeling that you were meant to do something great? Something big and important with your life? Like maybe you're not currently living up to your potential? But when you really think about it, you're not quite sure what that great thing is you should be doing? Or maybe you know what you want to do, but have no clue how to make time for it in your life right now?

Today I'm here to tell you... stop worrying about it. I don't mean to be uninspiring, quite the opposite really. I just want to help your stress level, the same way I'm trying to help my own. You see, I feel these things often. Like maybe I should be figuring out how to use my brain towards a better cause then just making websites. But you know what? I have no idea what that cause should be or how exactly to use my skillset for this undecided thing. I have some vague goals... for someday. But right now it's not something I'm actively worrying about. You know why? Two things: money and time.

Yep that might surprise you, coming from a hippy and all. I really hate money, and many things about capitalism, but that doesn't change the reality of our world. We need money to survive in it. We need even more money if we want to thrive. And as much as I dislike money, I hate worrying about it even more. It's much easier to have enough you don't have to stress about every penny. And let's face it, most world-saving causes don't pay very well, and many require a lot more than a normal 40 hour work week.

So I'm lowering my expectations of myself right now, and you know, I'm good with that. One because I truly like my current job, even though I may not be helping save the world. I still really enjoy working for a small company. And two, because I'm able to take care of, and spend quality time with, my family. That last one is more important to me right now than saving the world.

Seriously?! Yep, I know how selfish that might sound to some. Depending on your situation you may completely get where I'm coming from or think I'm a terrible person. But I am unwilling to sacrifice the security I currently have. I didn't have kids so I could neglect them, for any cause, I don't care how important it is. Right now, my main focus is making sure they're well taken care of. I would argue that should be every parent's main focus. Because, no matter how important your work is, raising children to be good people is just as, if not more important. You really want the world to be full of the "entitled millenials" we all keep hearing about? No thank you. We need the next generation to actually give a shit about the important things in life. And that won't happen if we're all neglecting our children, even if it is for a good cause. No, the world needs us to make more smart and caring people, not neglected and damaged kids or spoiled and entitled brats.

Don't underestimate the importance of being a good parent. Even if you yourself aren't damaged from your own parents, I'd be surprised if you didn't know a few people who are. We're all going to make mistakes as parents, but the overall job we do, consistency and love shown towards our children, will go a long way to them being decent human beings. I think we often downplay our importance as parents, feeling like friends, peers, teachers, coaches, etc. have more of a say, at least once our kids reach school age. But when I think back to my own childhood, that's simply not true. While all the people in my life definitely had a part in shaping who I am, my parents definitely had the biggest influence of all.

A lot of this comes back to mindfulness as well. When we try to stretch our focus in too many directions, we lose the ability to do a good job at everything, or anything for that matter. I get overwhelmed when I try to add too many things to my plate. And when that happens, the first to suffer are those closest to me. I can't be a good parent if I'm too busy worrying about everything else I think I should be doing. I have to concentrate on what's in front of me right now. And right now, that's my family. I have my whole life to worry about the rest, my kids need me right now.

So to all my readers that are parents, struggling with that all too familiar feeling of not enoughness, take a deep breath. Relax. Assuming most of us live to be nice and old, there's always time to achieve our other goals once we're through the first couple decades of raising kids.  And remember how much you are already doing. You have the potential for greatness inside you, or for many of you, you already are great. You're just using your greatness to raise children that will give enough of a shit to help turn this world around. That is your real opportunity to save the world, one you have time for right now. Because you're already doing it, you just didn't realize you were.


  Holy crap it's August already! And I haven't posted anything in over a month! Isn't it amazing how once your first ki...

Summer Summer Summertime


Holy crap it's August already! And I haven't posted anything in over a month! Isn't it amazing how once your first kid is in school, summer's are suddenly insanely short?! I don't remember feeling so crunched for time a few years ago, not like the last couple summers. The school year really encroaches on the summer and the free weekends to get in all the fun stuff. I do my best to make the most of it by cutting back hours at work and taking as many Fridays off as possible. But still it is flying by. So today is a short recap of some of what we've managed to jam into the short summer so far.

A few short days after school got out, Sebastian flew to Nevada to spend a week with his grandparents. They took him and his cousins to San Diego, to the beach, safari park, and all that fun stuff. While he was gone, Brian, Oscar, and I went to the beach.

This is how we keep them in line...bury them!
Then we drove down to Nevada after they returned. We spent the week of July 4th visiting family, and as many friends as we could squeeze in (sorry to those of you we missed!). I was again rudely reminded how much I HATE Nevada summers and that intense, high elevation, dry as dust, desert heat! It shouldn't be 90 degrees at 9am. Ever. We'll be trying to schedule our visits in spring or fall from now on. Jokes on me now that it's over 100 degrees even here in Oregon this week! Breaking all sorts of records that are as old as me. Fucking climate change.

Adorable Arlie, our great niece
Did I tell you guys I'm a great aunt?! 
4th of Julying in Carson
Fireworks at a distance, the best way with littles
On the drive home we stopped at Salt Creek Falls in the Willamette National Forest. Just what I needed after all that desert. Trees make me happy in a way the desert never has.

And then of course our anniversary happened right after we got home. 14 years married, 16 together...we've officially been together over half my life. How weird is that to say?! Very.

The secret is to always be very serious
The weekend after we got home from Nevada, we rented a house in Seaside with some friends. It was a very lovely weekend. And quite a nice change in weather after all that desert heat.

The following weekend was the annual NF Walk. It seemed there weren't as many people there this year which was a bummer. Guess I'll have to get my butt in gear next year and help spread the word more. We still had a good time though of course. It's always great to see what awesome and supportive people we have in the NF community here in the Portland area. Thanks again to everyone who walked or donated!

Sebastian made it the whole way again!
NF Hero Ceremony
Damn my kids are cute!
The bear was thirsty
Buckle up for safety!
Just this last weekend we did some hippy camping in the Tillamook State Forest. Similar to last year's, but this time we went to the west fork of the Wilson River. And some friends joined us the first night. It was so peaceful and relaxing. I was reminded how much more I prefer this type of camping to campground camping. At a busy campground, it's all noise, chaos, and pavement. It doesn't really feel like you're spending time with nature. I find camping with kids to be a lot of work and not much sleep, which makes me not enjoy it nearly as much as I used to. At least this way was more relaxing and felt much more worth the work. I'm still tired though.


Brian will be attending pickathon this weekend while I spend some quality time with the boys. I'm hoping to take them to the beach one day and maybe the movies another. But they both just came down with a stomach bug! No fun! Here's hoping they get over it quick.

Oscar was tired after camping too
The rest of August is looking busy as well, with friends to visit and probably another hippy camping trip. I'm hoping to keep a couple weekend days free to just relax. I just hate feeling over-scheduled and constantly busy. I remember thinking summers were relaxing and somewhat boring when I was a kid. How different it feels from the parents point of view! Really I want it to feel like this...

Ahaha gotta love the 90s. You're welcome.

How's your summer going?