14
December

My Christmas Card List

Written by Sandy. Posted in: My family history
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I love this time of year. Magic permeates the very air we breathe. It’s in the Christmas trees all lit up with sparkly lights and decorated with personal mementos of Christmases past. Have you noticed the Christmas energy emanating from your tree during the season? Take another look.

When I was younger I used to pass the time just staring at our childhood tree—day or night. I’d come up close to an ornament to see how big my nose would look and back away slowly, enamored with all things Christmas. My parents didn’t always get along—(enough said here). Yet I still found solace in this holiday. I’d sit on the floor in my bedroom, after having lit a Christmas candle on the dresser, and gaze upon it as I rocked and sang all the Christmas songs I knew. The spirit of this season soothed me.

One year, our neighborhood association sent out invites for a Christmas caroling party. I was in! We sang at each household and ended with hot Christmas punch at one of the neighbor’s houses. I was in love with this tradition! Mental note to my younger self: “I’m doing THIS again!”

As I progressed into young adulthood, I’d find myself parked in my apartment parking lot just staring at the house lights around the neighborhood taking it all in before I went inside. My Christmas meter never got full this time of year. It was then that I started decorating for Christmas and writing my own Christmas cards. I still have pieces from my first apartment that I use today. A blue Charlie Brown ornament comes to mind.

During college I gave a speech on December 6th (St. Nicholas Day) in my speech class. Of course it was about believing in Santa. I ended with some lyrics from The Statler Brothers Christmas song,

I Believe in Santa’s Cause

Never heard a snowman talking
Never seen a reindeer fly
Nor seen a wooden soldier walking
Nor met Santa eye to eye

Now there are those who don’t believe
In miracles or Santa Claus
But I believe what I believe
And I believe in Santa’s cause

My teacher liked it so much he invited me to say it at the Beiger Mansion in my hometown for a Christmas function. I was so honored!

My husband and I just celebrated our 36th annual Christmas party. We decorate every corner of our house—even the bathrooms! There’s bells on the door that jingle when you walk in, a zillion Santa’s throughout the house and the scent of ”The Smell of Christmas” potpourri permeates the house. Yes I still believe in Santa. Why wouldn’t you? He’s the spirit of Christmas. Of course, there’s a big turkey dinner AND we go caroling, for those who are game.

Sadly, we’ve been noticing less and less people coming to the door each year when we go caroling. You know how some say certain things are going to become a thing of the past? Answering your door for Christmas caroling, we feared, was going to the wayside.

This year we tried another direction and we had so many come to the door and joyously direct our music, some taking photos and videos, some taking a selfie with us in the background. Yes! People will still come to the door to share in a brief Christmas moment! It renewed our belief in the Christmas spirit. We all just need a little magic. God bless those lovely souls!

By now, you’ve realized how much Christmas means to me. I know I’m not alone. I still send handwritten Christmas cards to many of the same people I knew over 20 years ago. Isn’t that was Christmas cards are for? To remind those who were special in your life that they still matter, that there’s still a place in your heart for them, to wish them a Merry Christmas—it’s my Godmother’s sister, my oldest friends and some of my past bosses, my long lost relatives. They will always have a special spot in my heart because they touched my life. Time won’t change that. It’s like a “Christmas card contract” for me that says “I will always love and care about you.”

You won’t get off my Christmas card list unless you haven’t sent me one in a couple years (and even then I still send them to certain special friends and relatives because it makes me feel good.) Our incoming Christmas cards have dwindled over the years. This saddens both of us. We still remember all of those on our list this time of year. We still send silent Christmas prayers to those who have passed and mental Christmas hugs to those who’re just too busy to continue the tradition. We will still always love you. Merry Christmas dear friends.

I hope to see you either digitally online or in person in 2019. I’d love to work with you.

Namasté,
Sandy Krzyzanowski
Better Day Yoga, LLC

08
November

White Lady of the Woods

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Celebrating the Goddess Within, Magic of Yoga and Meditation, Newsletter
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Just prior to my Thursday 10 AM yoga class at NOLA’s, I always take a few moments for alternate nostril breath which balances the nervous system, pranayama mudras, and a little loving kindness meditation. It helps bring me to center and be the kind of yoga teacher I aspire to be. There are always “a-ha” moments during, or as a result of, meditation—especially if I’m pondering something.

Today as I finished my meditation I looked around the beautiful space where I’m honored to teach yoga in NOLA’S corporate event center. The owner, Kavita Mehta, has an eye for art. She has several paintings adorning the walls. Although my eyes have landed on these walls several times, today I noticed just how many of them contain birch trees.

I grew up with a birch tree outside my bedroom window. My dad loved trees, as I’ve written many times before. Because a birch tree was just outside my childhood window, I’ve always felt a connection to birch trees. How did I not notice the abundance of birch trees in my new yoga space?

 

I started to snap photos of them with my iPhone to capture their beauty, knowing all the while they would be the subject of this blog. Once an idea hits me, I can’t contain myself. These are only a few of the ones containing birch trees. It was hard to decide which to include here.

Birch has often been associated with renewal, awakening the energy of new beginnings and a cleansing of the past. The birch tree has been called the “White Lady of the Woods” owing to her beautiful white bark. The bark of the birch tree, hence the spirit of the birch tree, was often used to instill courage and protection. It is even suggested we meditate on birch for resilience during hard times.

We can also invoke the birch spirit energy for an auspicious start to new ventures (lucky me!). Birch brings the promise of what is to come, new dawns, hope and regeneration. Isn’t that also what yoga brings with its promise of mind/body connection? Bringing our bodies into the rest and relax/parasympathetic nervous system mode is the only time your body is able to regenerate and heal. This, too, is the promise, the gift of yoga. For me it is the promise of a “better day”. (Read about how I came up with the name of my business here.)

As a guardian, birch provides solace and safety from the madness of the world. Okay, full disclosure, the “madness” referred to in the folklore I was reading was referring to the tricks of the Faery. Don’t laugh, it won’t make the faeries happy! Faeries are part of folklore worldwide, by the way. I always say I judge by experience. If the whole world’s ancient stories include the wee folk, who am I to argue of their existence? And, for that matter, who are you to? And somehow labeling the “madness of the world” as faery/fairy trickery, makes this madness seem somehow lighter and more manageable for me. Yes, in case you’re wondering, I believe in faeries and all things magical. I’ve written about this many times, but this one is my favorite here.

Now, that we’ve got that out of the way….moving on.)

“If you do not believe in magic, your life will not be magical.  Magic, like the power of Stonehenge, is part of the unknowable—that which you cannot describe, but which exists and makes your life extraordinary.” –The Power Deck, The Cards of Wisdom, by Lynn V. Andrews.

 

Like most women I know, birch appears fragile but is extremely strong. We’re all stronger than we think we are, aren’t we? What a beautiful message birch brings us: to appear how we may to the world but harbor our inner strength inside. The birch tree carries ancient wisdom and yet appears forever young. Yoga, too, carries ancient wisdom and will enable you to age gracefully, appearing younger than your years.

 

Some have used birch as a meditation tool, sitting with their back to the birch tree to calm down so they can channel their anxiety into “wise ways”. This is what meditation and yoga, which is a meditation in motion, does for me. There have been studies on the effects of meditation helping us to pause before we react so we react with wisdom and calmness. (See the Tibetan prayer flags in this painting? Prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength and wisdom. It is believed the prayers are blown by the wind to spread good will and compassion to all.)

Birch’s vibration is said to increase tolerance of ourselves and others. This speaks to me of patience. We can all be so hard on ourselves sometimes. Sometimes that short fuse gets taken out on others. Yoga is my solace and increases my patience level with each practice. My mat instills a deep breath every time I step upon it. It contains the energy of all my previous prayers and meditative moments. On the sacred space of my yoga mat I can start over each day—it’s my restart button, my “do over”. Here I am able to forget the past and be here now, “just for today.” Remember I opened with birch’s ability to cleanse the past. (I wrote at depth about my mat as sacred space here.)

“Now, with the essence of Birch, you come into the rhythm of life, the empowerment of dreams, and the ability to vision your possibilities.” ~ The Faces of Womanspirit; a Celtic oracle of Avalon (thegoddesstree.com)

It is said that a good beginning leads to a good conclusion. So as I ponder our new beginnings here at NOLA’S surrounded by the energy of the Birch tree’s wisdom permeating our yoga space, I am humbled by the symbolism of a fresh start, courage, determination and spiritual growth. And I am honored to be the conduit for those students joining me as we learn the lessons of the birch tree together—that hidden within there is often found great strength.

Won’t you join me?

 

 

 

For details on dates, rates, and specials, please click here. Thank you! Hope to see you soon!

24
October

Communicating with spirits…an abundant exchange of all good things

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Magic of Yoga and Meditation
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I’ve shared before that a student of mine suddenly noticed in her down dog that her feet looked just like her mom’s. Ever since then, I’ve used that as a pondering question in class. Who’s feet do you have? Which ancestor has passed those traits on to you? Invite your ancestor into your class. Send a mental “hello” and “thank you” to them right now.

Since this is Halloween week, why not instill some thoughts in your yoga practice toward thinking of and perhaps connecting with someone special in your life who has passed on. Perhaps use this thought as your intention for your yoga practice that day.

I’ve heard that during this time of year it is easier to communicate with those who have passed since the “veil” between the living and those who have passed is “thinner”. It doesn’t have to scare you. Why not take advantage of it in the spirit of the season? You probably already send them “hellos” on any given day. Why not dwell on the possibility that this time of year it’s easier to visit?

Here’s a little history:
“October 31 was the last day of the ancient Celtic year and the Festival of Samhain, the Celtic god of the dead.  As one year became another, the Celts believed, the spirits of the dead could return from the beyond to share joy and happiness with their living loved ones. Feasting, dancing, and singing celebrated this opportunity. Enormous bonfires lit the night sky, welcoming revelers and spirits alike.

But fearing that some of the returning spirits might have less than honorable intentions, people often donned masks and costumes to hide their true identities. The good spirits of departed friends and relatives of course knew those behind the masks and could make contact for a joyous reunion. The light of dawn, marking the start of the Celtic New Year, recalled the spirits to the spirit world.

In 835 Pope Gregory IV proclaimed that the last day in October was to be known within the Catholic Church as All Hallow’s Eve, or “All Holy Evening”. On this date, he decreed, Catholics everywhere were to gather and remember those who had given their lives in the name of their faith. The next day, November 1, became All Saint’s Day (also called All Soul’s Day), a time to remember all who passed on.

The Catholic Church views this ‘communion of spirits’ as a reminder that there is a continuous link between the souls of the living and the souls of the dead.  Says the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Church’s official teachings, ‘Between them there is an abundant exchange of all good things.’ Various Protestant religions also observe these celebrations.”  ~ The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Communicating with Spirits by Rita S. Berkowitz and Deborah S. Romaine.”

Personally, I’ve always thought that the more open you are to “hearing” the Universe’s messages, or a loved one who has passed on for that matter, the more likely it will happen—or at least the more likely you’ll notice. The Universe speaks in subtleties so unless you are tuned in, you could totally miss it. That’s where your yoga practice comes in!

As a yogi, you’re practice includes listening to the subtle messages your body is sending so it doesn’t have to send a loud scream. So you are, in effect, training yourself to notice subtleties. As a yogi, you begin to notice when your feelings change, when your physical sensations speak up and when your spiritual connection deepens.

Sending off mental invitations and silent hello’s to those who’ve passed isn’t hard. You’re probably already thinking of your special someone. You’re remembering them in their own special way, with their own special traits and characteristics. Knowing that you’re open to connecting and knowing that you share a special memory, or that a special something reminds you of them, creates the magical “stuff” your connection manifests from. My mother-in-law’s connection/communication with her late husband was so strong, it continued for twelve years after his death until her passing in 2015.

The Universe knows what you’re “up for” too. You may be open to subtle connection but an outright visit might scare the living daylights out of you! Me too! Keep surrounding your thoughts in love and light.

I read a book by local but internationally known author, Echo Bodine, called Relax, It’s Only a Ghost. In it, she reminds you to say loudly and firmly “Not welcome!” when you feel scared. Wish I knew that as a small child afraid in my bedroom after a nightmare.

On the nights my husband is out of town, I surround myself with guardian angels when I can’t sleep. One corner has the Archangel, St. Michael, in the image of John Travolta’s portrayal. It makes me smile. One is Clarence, from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life—my absolute favorite Christmas movie! One is Gideon, from the Christmas show One Magic Christmas. And the last one is the Archangel Raphael, the archangel of healing and protection who is associated with the color emerald green. (Recently I added Dudley from the The Bishop’s Wife” another of my favorite Christmas movies!) By the time I’ve conjured up these images and colors at the four corners of my bed, I’m content and less on edge. This is what I mean by surrounding your thoughts with love and light.

Connections come in subtleties. It might be the shape of the clouds in the sky. It might be the cardinal that you suddenly see or hear. It might be that the rain stick near your fireplace drops a pebble out of the blue at just the right time. Both the cardinal and the rain stick are my dad’s form of communication with me. I don’t believe in coincidences. My dad’s been gone for over 15 years now. The rain stick became his mode of communication some time ago. He knows it. I know it. It’s an old friend by now. When I hear the pebble drop or see the inquisitive cardinal, I simply say “Hi dad. I love and miss you too.” Happy Halloween everyone! Create your own magic by inviting it in!

(This is an updated post from a previous post shared on a colleagues website that is no longer available.)

10
October

Crack Open the Magic!

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Newsletter
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As hard as it is to say goodbye to summer, the rituals of Autumn hold our hand as we journey into the cooler seasons, helping us ease into cooler weather—like putting on a warm sweater. The Autumnal celebrations are a healing balm for our soul.

Winter is a time of introspection. It is a time to cocoon inward as we transform into our next evolution of what the Universe has in store as our next expression.

Halloween recalls the magic of donning the childhood gypsy costume to embody the energy of THAT persona as it might express itself through me. And scarecrows reminds me of the importance of having a big heart in all that I do—a la Wizard of Oz. Scarecrow helps me remember everything you ever really need is always there inside of you, right at home. The inner child awakens. The magic is here. Crack open the magic!

These decorations bring out my inner child, giggles and all. What brings out yours?

 

 

 

Thanks for subscribing to my newsletter/blog! I so appreciate each and every one of you!

Namasté,
Sandy Krzyzanowski
Better Day Yoga, LLC
                 ~
Mail to:  5024 Oxborough Gardens
Brooklyn Park, MN 55443-3990
(612) 708 6900
www.betterdayyoga.com

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11
September

Let’s start something amazing at Nola’s!

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Healthy News, Newsletter
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Let’s start something amazing
at Nola’s!

A little over six years ago the building my yoga studio was located at in Roseville, MN was bought out by a nursing home; and my second location’s owner lost her lease. She moved to a location with no room for yoga. All this happened within one week’s time. My next location was only available for what seemed like half a second. The owner closed shop—I was renting space. One of my regular yoga students approached me to start teaching at her friend’s house and a new business model was born! I’ve since expanded into on-site corporate yoga as well.

If you follow my blogs, you know I follow the signs sent from the Universe. I never thought going in-home private (and now also on-site corporate) was going to be my only teaching venue; but I am oh so grateful for the student who suggested it! It has and continues to be a perfect business model for me!

Another excellent opportunity!

It seems the Universe is bringing me another excellent opportunity and I couldn’t be more excited! Recently a local restaurateur, Kavita Mehta of Nola Restaurant in Osseo, MN, asked me to consider teaching yoga at her event center there. When she shared that the roots of the dishes served at Nola’s are rooted in the ancient Chinese, Indian Ayurvedic and Unani health systems, well I sat up and took notice!

Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga and another love of mine! Healthy eating, based on Ayurveda, is part of my training and is the backbone of the YogaLean Workshop I offer! Kavita’s offer for me to teach yoga at Nola’s was something I had to consider!

We are hosting a free yoga class Thursday at 10 AM on October 4th to kick this off!

Nola's PDF for ad copy.jpg

For rates and dates going forward, please click here. Please join us and bring your friends! I’m really looking forward to expanding here with this partnership! Let’s start something amazing at Nola’s!

~~~

While I have you! Check out my links page!

Artist highlights:

Beatles fan? Love George Harrison’s “While my guitar gently weeps” song? Check out this “Weeping Guitar” art print by Erica Free! (She’s the top link on my site) It comes in two sizes! Can you say early Christmas shopping?

Have something special to commemorate? I used to buy Neil Diamond albums whenever I accomplished something major: new job, promotion, completion of a major goal, etc. Lately I’ve been buying a mala to commemorate my accomplishments since my focus has been on all things yoga for the past several years.

Please check out my favorite local yoga teacher’s link at YogSadhna—Beautiful malas!
(I still love and adore Neil! He just released Hot August Night III!)

~~~

I hope to see you at one of my venue’s soon! Thank you so much for subscribing to my newsletter! I appreciate each and every one of you!

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Better Day Yoga, LLC

~

Mail to: 5024 Oxborough Gardens

Brooklyn Park, MN 55443-3990

(612) 708 6900

www.betterdayyoga.com

http://www.facebook.com/betterdayyoga

https://www.instagram.com/sandyatbetterdayyoga/

17
July

Singing ‘round the dinner table, a Polish tradition

Written by Sandy. Posted in: My family history
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My husband and I just got back from our third trip to Poland. This was our second time spent on the farm my dad was born on and continues to be overwhelmingly meaningful.

Most evenings, if not all, were spent around a table sharing a meal, discussing life (through translation via their two, wonderful daughters, Anita and Ola) and singing favorite Polish songs out loud. Of course, Ed and I either hummed, “la-la-la’d” or simply took it all in, smiling from ear to ear. As each evening progressed into the night, the songs became more laid back, emotional and free-flowing with less inhibition from everyone. For sure, my cousin Henia’s homemade plum wine (from their 2000+ plum trees) helped our voices to sound, um…shall we say better? We were, after all, still getting to know one another. It was all very healing and grounding. It’s hard to put to words.

I plan to make a CD of the songs we sang together to share with my Polish relatives. but I think watching the videos is even more fun. I hope you agree.

 

One of the first evenings included Krzys’s, parents from down the road, Adam and Johanna. Adam will be 90 soon and Johanna is 85. Krzys is Henia’s husband. Adam was a playmate of my dad’s before the war. Our visit with Adam and Johanna on our first visit five years ago was one of our favorite days and this year’s visit with them proved to be one of my husband and I’s favorite days as well. Both participated in the singing throughout the evening with Johanna becoming more and more animated as the songs continued. There were a few she basically led, being the only one who remembered all the words, a “call and response” so to speak. As many of you with European decent might already know, hand motions are very important in communicating—even more so when you’re leading in song! Johanna became our “DJ” at times, as Anita (the eldest daughter) pointed out with a chuckle. It was heart-warming to say the least.

 

Another evening, we again went down the road to Krysia and Czesiek’s house for dinner and song. Krysia and Henia are sisters. As mentioned earlier, the songs flowed more easily as the night progressed. Okay, so there was vodka at this house, but that’s beside the point. Swaying (to song!), hand-holding, and much laughing accented each verse.

I brought a paper copy of a 2009 email I’d saved from one of our initial connections with Anita, who found us on Facebook over nine years ago. It contained the names of relatives along with pertinent details, including the account of how my dad’s sister, Stasia, had passed away. Stasia is Henia and Krysia’s mom. Anita was moved to read this email out loud to the others that evening, in Polish of course. We were all wiping our tears away and hugging by the end of the reading. This honoring of history—of our elders, the telling and retelling of stories—does not happen enough here in the U.S.

The last song we sang as a family, was by special request of Ed and I. We requested they sing the Polish anthem, the song that made my dad cry whenever he heard it and the song Ed and I went down the aisle to. I still can’t listen to this song without crying.

When I was a child, my dad shared many stories. He did a walk-about through various areas of Poland once before World War II. He believed that you could tell the emotional state of each area by the songs they sang and the energy with which they sang them. So this tradition of singing with family and friends is part of their culture—our family’s culture. It’s in our DNA. Perhaps this is why it felt so very right. Our connections have grown stronger with each song and story. We will hold these memories in our hearts forever.

21
June

Midsummer Madness

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Magic of Yoga and Meditation
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Midsummer, or Summer Solstice, is said to open the magical doorways of Nature. Ted Andrews said the physical and subtle bodies of humanity are aligned at this time and for those working with these energies, (like those of us who practice yoga), a new and more stable alignment can be established, bringing even greater growth the upcoming year. What a perfect day to ALSO be International Yoga Day!

This relationship between the physical and subtle bodies is what yoga IS to me. Working with the physical touches and works on the subtle, and vice versa. They are inextricably interwoven. Beautiful, isn’t it?

This is why emotions are stored within our body, sometimes waiting for us to be better able to handle them perhaps later, sometimes lodged so deep we don’t even know they’re there. Yoga enables them to find a peaceful untangling and release. At least that’s been my personal experience.

The longer I’ve practiced yoga (going on 30 years or more now), the more personal it becomes. I am in a continual conversation with the subtleties of my body’s language. Sensations become “familiar” like an old friend. They always have a message.

It’s taken me this long, with the additional help of my most recent Chronic Pain YogaFit two-day training, to gently remind the sensations of pain that I am safe, secure, centered, and at peace. Sometimes I even repeat the movement that just sent the pain/danger signal (because that’s what pain is—a signal of danger). And as I repeat that movement I am saying “See? —safe. I am safe. This is a safe move. See?” This one thing alone has been HUGE for me. I can literally feel the pain subside with each successive repeat of the movement. Try it! I’ve been working on many old injury muscle imbalances, scar tissue, etc that have found a home in my body from various injuries.

Creating a safe haven within your body—that’s what yoga means to me. Happy International Yoga Day!

 

 

16
June

The quieter you become, the more you can hear ~ Ram Dass

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Trauma-informed
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I completed a second day of silence as part of the required homework for level II of Indu Arora’s Yoga Nidra training coming up in August. I did the first day of silence with my husband back in March and completed the second one on the anniversary of my mom’s birthday. There are various levels of silence. I chose a deeper practice the second time because my husband was to be out of town on business. I managed about 10 hours—amateur, right?

It sounded perfect originally. Ed would be out of the house so my silence wouldn’t be difficult—or so I thought. You see, I’m pretty attached to my husband so I still exchanged texts with him to make sure he arrived safely and also to wish him well on his appointments. This connection we have is not easy to turn off—especially when he’s out of town. “What if’s?” haunted me, hence the texts were something I just had to do despite my original resolve to be without technology.

I started the “count” shortly after my ritual Facebook post honoring my mom’s birthday and how she loved that her new country celebrated Flag Day on her birthday. She would raise the flag with pride that day, and I joke that my dad enjoyed the head’s up it was her birthday. Both she and my dad were prisoners of war during WWII and immigrated to the United States in 1950. Both had PTSD, which my trauma-informed YogaFit training clued me into with great detail. The training allowed my childhood to make so much more sense. I’m in the process of writing a book tentatively titled “The Why’s matter”. Because they do.

I spent much of my silent mode that day dwelling on my mom and our history, coming to some major understandings about certain events from my childhood. Without the sustained silence, my thoughts would not have gone this deep nor made the connections I was able to make. In retrospect, I’m surprised I didn’t make the connections I did earlier in life. It was like a big ole’ slap on the head for me. D’oh! Why didn’t I go there before? Silence is powerful. Or maybe I was just ready now.

I believe I connected the dots on at least one important memory. Being aware of PTSD and what triggers and flashbacks can do to hijack the brain—and I do mean hijack—not only helps in understanding the immense burden both my parents were dealing with emotionally; but also helps in making peace with it. Needless to say, reframing those events has been healing for me. This day of silence created the perfect conditions for a deeper resolution on one particular event that has troubled me over the years.

Without going into details, the evening progressed into what I can only describe as interesting. No alcohol involved. I was relaxing at one point and meditating when I woke up in the midst of deep dreams in another part of the room. I do not remember getting up and moving and it felt like I was “solving something” in my dreams. I awoke to the sound of the timer on the stove where my dinner was baking and I knew the timer had been going off for some time. As I awoke I had the realization that something wasn’t normal here. I don’t remember moving! What happened? I immediately realized my legs felt vibratory such that I was afraid to walk down the stairs, for fear of falling, to turn off the oven. I shimmied down the stairs on my butt for safety. It was all very woo-woo. Enough said.

I kept going over the details in my mind, confirming that I did NOT remember moving to the other part of the room. I have never “blacked out” like this before or woken up somewhere I didn’t remember falling asleep. I only know that my day of silence brought me some special gifts I will never forget, nor would I want to. This makes me want to practice other days of silence, perhaps for longer periods, to see where they will go. My inner self had some things to share. It’s time I listen.

 

18
May

Knowlege is power / Health is priceless

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Healthy News, Newsletter
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You may be wondering if you are hypothyroid or know of someone who is. There’s a current upsurge in interest in this subject and using diet and lifestyle to help balance this condition. I was diagnosed over ten years ago. Typically the MD’s will check your TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) and if that’s within a given range, they’ll stop there and tell you your thyroid is fine. When I was increasingly tired, the MD I was going to at the time suggested checking my thyroid. She said if it’s your thyroid, no problem, you start on Synthroid® (brand name for levothyroxine) and you’re good to go—simple solution. She made it sound like it was quite common. “Take a pill and you’re done.” (Sadly it IS quite common. Synthroid® is the most prescribed medication in the US.)

Over the past 10+ years I’ve painstakingly discovered many things about hypothyroidism. What I’m about to share is my own research and my own decisions made for myself. The list is NOT exhaustive, I’m sure. They’re not meant to be your blueprint or to make your decisions so much as for you to be aware of areas you might want to research for yourself. This is my way of saying I don’t even play a doctor on TV! So do your research and talk to your doctor!

Here’s what I wish the MD would have done and/or told me at the time of diagnosis:
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  • Hypothyroid disease is associated with diabetes (the pancreas is part of the endocrine system) and increases your chances of other auto-immune diseases (the thymus governs the immune system and is part of the endocrine system. You’re taking blood to check my thyroid which is part of the endocrine system. Why not check out the other family of organs in that system? They all work together. I’d had more than one blow to the head over my lifetime (childhood falls, line-drive to the head during softball requiring eight stitches, neck/back injury almost 20 years ago now.) Traumatic brain injury can injure your pituitary gland (another endocrine gland) and even years later can be associated with hypothyroid disease, adrenal insufficiency, diabetes…there’s more.

It took me well over eight years to decide to switch doctors over another matter—my regular doctor left the practice and the new one thought my “outie” bellybutton was a hernia! This was after she asked why in the world I’d want to check my vitamin D levels? (Inside I was thinking—what rock have you been under and where did you go to medical school? I’m always reading how little nutrition education MDs receive, but by this time Vitamin D’s importance had gone mainstream. Mental note to self, this doctor is dangerous to my health.)
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  • Vitamin D is a hormone and low levels are associated with a higher risk of thyroid antibodies which are found with autoimmune thyroid disorders like Hashimotos Disease. Yup that’s right and I have discovered that low levels affect many bodily functions. I didn’t know this particular detail of Vitamin D at the time. I just knew it was an uber-important vitamin (can you say cancer risk and progression for starters?) and living in Minnesota increased my odds of being low on Vitamin D since we make very little Vitamin D except during the summer and sun screen blocks the production of even that. My new doctor gave me a full thyroid panel test (along with my Vitamin D) which included checking my thyroid antibodies.

Guess what? I had Hashimotos Hypothyroid disease and low vitamin D levels. Yes, my previous doctors knew I had outgrown Juvenile Rheumatory Arthritis (another auto-immune disease) when I was younger so the increased odds of other auto-immune diseases were there. Why didn’t my first doctor wonder if I had Hashimotos Hypothyroid disease vs. just hypothyroid disease? Did you know up to 90% of all thyroid problems are autoimmune in nature—the most common of which is Hashimotos?
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  • Let’s check your antibodies starting at an earlier certain age while we’re drawing blood for that cholesterol check we’re doing anyway. Why didn’t my first doctor check for antibodies? Or, even better, why isn’t checking for antibodies part of every physical starting earlier—before a hypothyroid diagnosis? You see often your antibodies start to rise before your TSH (the usual test for whether you are hypothyroid or not) rises into the hypothyroid range. Finding that out early gives you a chance to change your diet and lifestyle possibly avoiding the progression to Hashimotos.

By the time they diagnosed my Hashimotos, my thyroid had been under attack for over the eight years it took me to get that tested. I had no idea of the above until I began researching. It’s much more difficult to correct the damage to the thyroid after a longer amount of time—a duh.

Sadly the current fix of prescribing Synthroid® only works on balancing the hormones (T4 and T3). It does nothing to address the fact that your immune system is attacking your thyroid! Which is probably why they don’t check the antibodies early. They don’t have anything in place to address this.

I remember reading with total dismay on the Synthroid® drug fact sheet that the side effects of the drug worsen as you age and the longer you’re on the drug. So, I thought, what’s the game plan here? My step-mom’s Hashimotos had progressed to Sjögren’s syndrome—another auto-immune disease also associated with Hashimotos. I had no desire to experience what I saw her go through (loss of teeth, loss of enjoyment of food, difficulty eating due to little saliva in the mouth).
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  • Being gluten sensitive is associated with hypothyroid disease and avoiding gluten in your diet is associated with an improvement in thyroid function.  Well, that would have been excellent to know at the get-go!!

Just a couple of years prior to my thyroid diagnosis, my chiropractor (yes you heard that right) diagnosed me with gluten-sensitivity via a muscle test. My knee had swelled up and it hurt to walk, let alone go up steps. I was going up steps one at a time. An MRI showed nothing to be addressed really, save a small tear on my cartilage that “really did not need surgery”. He sent me home. I was like… “Hello?! My knee is swollen here? Do you see that? I’m not making up the pain.”

Two weeks off gluten and it was night and day, black and white difference. I wanted to kiss my chiropractor but we didn’t know each other that well. So I suspect going gluten-free helped my thyroid function for a bit longer before the TSH levels no longer measured well.

Gluten-sensitivity is associated with joint pain but so is hypothyroid disease. I personally don’t think this is a coincidence.
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  • Hypothyroid disease is associated with high cholesterol! In fact, back in the day, high cholesterol was how they diagnosed hypothyroid disease! Right around the time I was tested for hypothyroid disease they were trying to give me diet suggestions to lower my cholesterol. You know—lower saturated fat consumption (another blog in itself), increase vegetable consumption, etc. (By the way, my HDL levels are excellent as are the triglycerides AND my cholesterol is the “fluffy” kind so even the LDL is considered acceptable.)

I had cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers for lunch every day—that was it. And breakfast was a gluten free cereal with skim milk. Dinner was usually chicken with a starch and vegetable. Yes I snacked, but not excessive junk food. I prided myself on how well I ate as well as my disciplined exercise regime. If you know me, you know that I am not overweight. Giving diet suggestions was, to me, insulting. (Now my breakfasts have more protein, I eat salad daily and have less empty calories at the end of the day like chips (although they are my weakness). Dark chocolate is our dessert of choice when we indulge.) The controversy of cholesterol readings would be another blog.

It is sufficient to say being told the two are related would have gone a long way toward making me feel less inadequate. Your thyroid function affects your cholesterol measures.
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  • Being hypothyroid means I probably don’t convert Beta-Carotene to Vitamin A well. Vitamin A is important for thyroid function. Since Vitamin A is fat-soluble, you can overdose on it. It gets stored in your body vs. Beta Carotene, which is water-soluble. Typically your multiple vitamins contain Beta Carotene because healthy thyroids convert this to Vitamin A and what you don’t need is released.

Do you know how important Vitamin A is for skin health? Do you use retinols in your skin products? I’ve had cystic acne my whole life—complete with scars, tears and embarrassment at times (I know, I know—poor baby, right?).

Another chiropractor I went to a few years ago suggested I take a thyroid support supplement. Once I started to take this supplement, my cystic acne went away. This was only a few years ago. I’m 57. I wanted to dance the jig when I noticed this side benefit. I noticed the supplement contained Vitamin A vs. Beta Carotene. This concerned me so I pulled out my thyroid books (of which I had way too many) and researched it some more and realized the conversion of Beta Carotene to Vitamin A doesn’t work well for people like me.

I should mention here that earlier, I had started using a Vitamin B cream on my areas of concern in lieu of clindamycin (which is an antibiotic) for my acne. I was trying to be more holistic overall. Vitamin B cream helped tremendously but the cystic acne was still occurring. I could just treat it a bit better and ward it off with the “B” cream. FYI, a sluggish thyroid can also make you deficient in certain B vitamins.
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  • There are certain foods you might want to avoid (in addition to gluten) to manage hypothyroidism—like cruciferous vegetables (unless their cooked and you limit the amount you eat and spacing the consumption of these foods for several hours before and after your prescription medicine).They may block your thyroid’s utilization of iodine. A diet too high in fiber can alter our absorption levels of your thyroid medications. This one boggled my brain. Again, these are foods that are good for you so I don’t avoid them. I just am aware too much of a good thing can simply be too much. If you standardly consume high fiber, your blood tests will reflect that in the dosage of your thyroid medication. Talk to your doctor.

You might try an auto-immune paleo diet. It’s helped some extremely.

Some suggest avoiding night shade vegetables (potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant). Remember the lunches I was having when first diagnosed? I think the sensitivity to nightshade varies per person, as do most of these recommendations. I try not to overdo it but still consume them because I decided these foods are healthy and I refuse to avoid them all together. That’s my personal choice. You make your choice after consulting your doctor or dietician. I’ve tried avoiding them with no change in symptoms, but truth-be-told I probably didn’t avoid them long enough. My husband and I muscle test pretty much everything now though. Night shade vegetables can also affect arthritic joints.

You shouldn’t take your prescription medicine along with calcium supplements or coffee. So for most of you taking your prescription meds in the morning means waiting to have your vitamins and coffee. (I take my prescription later in the day. Some research suggests taking your prescription later in the day is more effective.)

Excess fat and sugar is never good but remember I said diabetes and hypothyroid disease are associated. So are gallbladder issues and hypothyroid disease.  So breaking down fats can become an issue. Personally, I eat plenty of healthy fats like ghee, fish and coconut oils. I’d add avocado here but I’m allergic! (It’s a common allergen.) That’s my choice after my own research. You do yours and consult with your doctor!

You may want to avoid soy foods, which includes edamame, tofu, and miso. There’s some controversy on this one. Do your own research.

We should all avoid packaged foods and eat closer to nature. If it doesn’t look like it came from the earth, some would say don’t eat it. Do I follow this all the time? No. But I do for a majority of my diet. Hypothyroid disease is associated with blood pressure issues—as is eating packaged foods because of sodium content. Now I’m reading that both high and low blood pressure can be associated with thyroid disease.

Avoiding alcohol is recommended but red wine “on an occasional basis is fine for some people. Red wine is my alcohol of choice.
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I’m currently in the process of switching from the standard treatment for hypothyroidism to a compounded formula. Without losing your interest, the standard treatment is giving you a hormone that is supposed to convert to another (T4 to T3) and fill the bill for both. Well, I wasn’t converting well. So they’re now working on a supplement containing T3 too. I wonder how many people are on the standard T4 and still feel lousy without checking further?

I think it might have been beneficial for a doctor to say exactly what she said as option #1. Many take this Synthroid® and they’re good to go, BUT if you want to investigate other lifestyle changes via your diet, here’s a good dietician and/or endocrinologist I’d recommend—option #2. AND by, the way, here’s some facts about hypothyroid disease that you should be aware of. So yes, your cholesterol is a bit high, but it can happen with hypothyroid disease. Here’s what we can do….

I’m still learning. I just read that some scientists are beginning to consider the possibility that Alzheimer’s disease is an auto-immune disease. My dad passed away of Alzheimer’s so believe me—I don’t want to go there! Keep on learning. I hope you found some of this useful. I just needed to download. Thanks for listening! Here’s to your health!