What I’ve learned from my dog 🐼

What I’ve learned from my dog 🐼

Let me preface this with I wanted a cat. Seriously, I did. I lost that one and while both my ex and I grew up with labs, he’d wanted a Siberian Husky since he was in high school. So after I lost the cat battle, I googled ‘Siberian Husky Ohio’ and low and behold my little P’s picture popped up.  I immediately knew she was supposed to be my dog and called the breeder. Impulsive? You bet, but I knew in my gut she was put on this earth for me. She was the prettiest of two litters (same dad, 2 different moms), however truly the least ‘husky’ compared to the other pups.  A lot of people question my loyalty to my dog. I have fought to keep her extensively since I left Cleveland. I fought for her in my divorce (Yes, very common these days. Animals are considered ‘marital property’) and I have fought some of my family whom have strongly encouraged (practically forced) me to get rid of her.

Huskies are NOT recommended for first time dog owners. Leave it to me, to get the most challenging dog. If you think owning a puppy is hard, try having a husky puppy! Its like having a wind up little crocodile coming at you at all times. I grew up as an equestrian and learned at a young age that owning an animal is a commitment. You don’t get a puppy (or any animal for that matter) and decide after a year that it doesn’t fit your lifestyle. That’s what happens with huskies, all the time. Apparently even more so with the Game of Thrones obsession (dire wolves). Husky puppies (and malemutes) are the cutest puppies on the planet, BUT they are a handful.  I REFUSED to be one of those people, so I read as much as I could, joined closed Husky FB groups etc., in order to give my dog the best life possible.  Yes, I have become a crazy husky lady (I prefer husky advocate). Way better than a crazy cat lady, if you ask me! 😉

I firmly believe animals are God’s greatest gifts. Despite the many dysfunctions in my family, the one thing we all have in common is our love of animals. Its really the only thing that has kept us bonded over the years.  Truly, that and my sister’s kids are the things we talk about most. My ex-husband and in-laws also loved animals, so after we lost their dog tragically, I decided it was time to bring some JOY back into our lives. RIP, Shooter! 💖

Pandi kept my marriage together that second year. While she was always my dog, and I, her clear care taker, she loved her daddy like nothing else.  Typical female in that regard. During my darkest hours in Cleveland, she was the only thing that kept me going.  She gave me purpose & needed me; plain and simple.  That was enough to keep me fighting this insidious disease. I didn’t want my health to destroy my family anymore than it had. It was destroying everything; my marriage, my relationships, my career and and my life. Not many believed I had Lyme (many in my family still question this, despite a positive test for being reinfected last summer) and there was a lot of pressure from my family as to how I should treat it. I didn’t choose the way I wanted to treat it, because they were already questioning my sanity. There is nothing more terrifying than knowing that you are sick and feeling like the entire world, including your family, is against you.  As they say in the Lyme community: “you just don’t get it, until you get it”. 💚

When I stopped working, I couldn’t afford to continue paying for my dog walker (whom Pandi adored), so I had to walk her.  Brandon was in his second year of business school and busier than ever. She would have destroyed the house we were renting had I not done that, so that became my routine, every day, for 9 months.  When she was 8 weeks old I could barely walk down the street and back, or get down the stairs without hobbling and holding on to the railing every morning. The pain and fatigue were that unbearable.  Brandon and I used to take her to the Metro Parks on the weekends and I would struggle to keep up. Brandon would have her pull me up the inclines because I could barely make it up on my own. Mind you, I hiked the Grand Canyon in college (that’s how sick I was).  She kept me moving and as she grew and demanded more, I was able to push myself more.  Not only has she helped my physical health, but she has helped my mental health as well.  When I have anxiety she gets upset and gets me to pet her, play, or go outside.  I am able to calm myself down, because I won’t do that to her.  She really IS my therapy dog (working on that certification- don’t hate, its legit).

I’ve learned so much from this dog. I’ve learned that you have to respect boundaries, because they’re healthy and they aren’t going to go away. I didn’t grow up with them, so its a concept that was foreign to me. Pandi gets so much attention; people from all walks of life are fascinated with her and often (mainly children) come running up to her without warning. If you know dogs, you know this is a no-no. I’ve learned to have patience, as it takes a lot time to explain Pandi’s boundaries, so that everyone who wants to pet her gets the opportunity to do so. I’ve learned that you have to respect her for the kind of dog that she is and once you do that you can enjoy all the other wonderful things about her. I’ve learned that you have to do this with people, too.  I’ve learned that trust is earned and it must be respected.  I’ve learned the true meaning of unconditional love and what it means to ‘protect your pack’. I’ve learned to trust her instinct, and because of that relearned to trust my own.  I’ve learned that dogs can bring all different types of people together and as my dog trainer said to me last year : “the best kind of people you will meet in this world are dog people”. Because of Pandi, I’ve learned that statement to be true. I’ve learned that there are people in this world who are good, kind and loving. I’ve learned that not everyone you meet has motives, or hidden agendas, and there are people that will accept you for you.  I never would have moved to this neighborhood had it not been for her & the proximity to the park. Because of that I’ve met new friends, all of whom have helped me rehabilitate and rediscover me. I don’t even want to think where I would be without this dog.  Thank you, God, for sending her to me. 🙏🏻
Peace & love

M & P  💖
pandi1                                     Go Cubs!

How Tracy Anderson Method is helping me kick fibro’s ass and find my Erika Jayne!

How Tracy Anderson Method is helping me kick fibro’s ass and find my Erika Jayne!

In Alanon they say that you know you need a meeting when you start to get ‘crunchy’. The same thing can be applied to writing and exercising for me.  For the last week I’ve felt pretty crummy.  Whenever seasons change my body becomes very susceptible to viruses, so on top of the every day challenges I have with my health, I then come down with other things, which basically means I need to sleep, but a lot of sleep, like a lot more than normal people.  I also took 2 heavy detox baths and went a little overboard with the epsom salt, so my body just needed rest.  Learning to accept this fact and allow my body to rest, without feeling guilt or shame, is still quite difficult for me.

Before I got sick I was extremely active.  Both my parents were active growing up, so exercise became an outlet for stress very early on in my life. Losing the ability to exercise has been horribly traumatic, but oddly enough, I am beginning to understand part of why it happened.

Having grown up as a perfectionist, my body was never good enough. Looking back at this photo, taken when I bought my sample sale dress (which was 1.5 years before my wedding),  I am reminded of how awful I was to myself. My ex-husband used to tell me I was tiny. I was, but I didn’t think it. Sadly, I just didn’t see it. When I looked in the mirror, I always saw something that could be improved.  It took gaining 60+ pounds and practically dying for me to get to a point of acceptance and self love. That being said, this still isn’t easy for me. I don’t think as a woman in today’s society it ever will be, until we start sending better messages to our youth. It starts at home, in our schools, our communities, social media, everywhere.  Fortunately, I think the tides are starting to turn now that we are in this transparency movement (e.g.: Selena Gomez, Caitlyn Jenner, Chrissy Teigen etc.). Enter TAM.

Tracy Anderson Method (TAM):

My journey with TAM actually started right before my wedding.  My replacement for Chicago, whom I adored, was a health nut and had a Bachelors in Health Science (I think? Sorry Molls). She recommended TAM, which at the time, was just a DVD, as a way that I could exercise at home and on the road.  I was scrambling to try and lose some weight before my wedding. The weight was just weird. Coming on super strong the weeks leading up to my wedding, which was beyond traumatic in itself. What bride wants to gain weight? Seriously though, it sucked.  My body was changing and morphing into something I didn’t know,  or understand, and as hard as I tried, I didn’t have much control over what was happening.  In fact, the more I exercised, the worse I felt. I was also panicking because my boobs were just enormous. I could barely get into my dress; the dress that needed to be taken in when I bought it. Again, this was a sample sale dress (Priscilla of Boston), so it wasn’t like I was getting fittings over the course of this period of time/weight gain. Thank GOD I never got implants. I would have had Kim K prego boobs and it would have been an even bigger disaster!

Be advised, Tracy Anderson Method is not easy. I could barely get through that DVD back then and couldn’t walk for days after starting it again this past March. But thats one of the things I love about Tracy.  Her method is a journey. Its a process, but a gentle and loving process. Please also know I by no means claim to be an expert on her method. There are loads of women out there on IG and a wonderful ‘Tamily’ community that have been extraordinarily helpful for me, as the moves are difficult to master. That’s also what I love about the method.  My cognitive symptoms have improved because you don’t get this down the first time. You have to practice and be consistent.  You also have to get over looking ridiculous, because you will, at first, but with time you begin to get it. From what I understand, there are lots of TAM critics out there (as with any workout), but to me that’s just negativity. Find what works for you and respect what works for others (my motto these days). 

What I do know, is that she is constantly evolving her method, which from what I gather has changed a bit from when she initially launched the DVDs. A lot of people stream her Master Class, but for now this is working for me.  I haven’t added the leg weights, but will. Doing her movements, repeatedly, for as long as you do, is hard enough without weights. Trust me, try it and you’ll understand. That’s another thing I like; her method is simple & doesn’t require a lot. All you need is 3 pound weights to start (then 5 pounds), leg weights, yoga mat & you’re golden.  Ironically, this is exactly what my first LLMD in Cleveland recommended as a way for me to rebuild muscle structure. I have lots of atrophy in my back, specifically the mid left side of my back, so he suggested low weights with repetition. I was actively treating Lyme at that time, so getting out of bed was hard enough. Patience is the #1 thing Lyme patients have to master. So, for anyone with Lyme, fibromyalgia, or double winners, like myself, this is helping me. I encourage you to try it. But I’ll say this again, its not easy and there are days when all my body wants to do is rest.  Thats the fibro talking, which is very confusing, because when you’re in pain and fatigued, you think you should rest. Its counterintuitive. If you have fibro, you feel me.  

The hardest part is getting started, but once I do, I find myself getting lost in the music and my inner Erika Jayne comes out.  Now, mind you, I’m in the privacy of my home, so aside from Pandi, no one see this, nor will they.  I can take breaks when I need to on her longer workouts, or focus on certain areas if need be, by doing her 10 minute workouts. Those 10 minute workouts are powerful, though.  On my worst days, I know I can get through 10 minutes. What usually happens is I get through one and after that I feel better to do another 10. Next think you know I’ve done 30 minutes.  As long as I’m doing something, its helping and thats exactly the kind of mind set I have to embrace to beat this shit and reclaim my body. In Alanon they say that if you put your recovery first, then everything else in your life will be better. I’m constantly being reminded, by my body, that I have to put this first, before anything else.

Tracy is gentle and encourages you to listen to your body and take it at your own pace, which I’ve had to do.  I alternate TAM with yoga (big Rodney Yee fan, also on Gaiam). While I haven’t had babies, and I understand why she speaks to moms, my challenges are just different (stretching critical for fibro). That being said, I’ve been loooooving her Post Pregnancy 11 DVD,  which is currently on the Comcast Gaiam channel.

Last but not least, TAM has helped me rediscover my love for dance and movement. My mom had me in every dance class imaginable as a kid and I often wonder where my musical talents could have gone had I stuck with dance & voice (AKA not horses). In a way, Tracy has helped me rediscover me again.  I’m never going to be that girl, in that picture, in that dress again, and thats ok. I don’t want to be that girl again, but I DO want that BACK back and I trust that Tracy (and yoga) will help me get there.

#trustintracy

~MLH

link to the 10 minutes workout DVDS (you also get a sneak peak of the workouts)

https://tracyanderson.com/shop/method-express/

 

 

Serendipity from Down Under 

IMG_8270Hello everyone and Happy May! It’s been a while since I’ve blogged.  Part of that is due to pure laziness, the other part is timing. Many of you have seen me post on social media about Auspect Skincare. There is so much about Auspect that’s incredible, but before I go into the details about the brand, the ingredients, price point, where to buy etc., I’d like to share with you how I discovered this Australian gem.  

If you’ve read my first blog at graciegray.wordpress.com you already know that I’m an aesthetician and have represented several skincare lines throughout my professional career. If you’ve read any of my blog posts on here, you know that my life took a dramatic turn when I was hit with a major health setback. It was also the time that my husband and I decided to separate and move to Atlanta. Just call me Yolanda Foster (Hadid).  

You’re probably wondering why Atlanta? Well, its the #1 market in my industry. My in-laws had relocated to Roswell (just outside ATL) from Michigan, so while we were separating, there was still a chance we’d work things out. I was very close with my in-laws, so it just made sense. I also figured that if you’re going to rebuild your career, you might as well do it in the best market. 

Skincare has always been my passion. I got into this business because of my own acne and up until I got sick, loved my profession. Sadly, that love turned to disgust. To say that I was lost is an understatement. I didn’t know who I was, let alone what I wanted to do, or ‘could do’ given my circumstances. You have to understand, when you can’t get out of bed, or barely get down the stairs in your home, the last thing you’re thinking about is your aesthetics. That shit just didn’t matter and it made me question the superficiality that my industry represented. I don’t like to reflect on that time.  The emotions can be raw and if I start talking too much about it I find myself going to the negative. Its not a good place for me to be in my head. The point is, I lost what was a major part of my identity, that being my career. 

My time in Atlanta was brief, but I can now say, without a shadow of a doubt, the reason I had to get to Atlanta was to meet Auspect Skincare and the incredible people behind it. The company, which is based out of Melbourne, chose Atlanta and the SE as their test market (uber smart on their end)! Everything about the brand spoke to me. Its free of what the Aussies call the ‘nasties’ and caters to the ‘Whole Foods’ demographic (AKA all the people I thought were nuts, until I got sick and became one of them).  Auspect Skincare is free of: artificial fragrance/color, fillers, chemical dies, alcohol, parabens/harsh preservative systems, hormones, SLS, GMOs, propylene glycol, formaldehyde, hydroquinone, resorcinol, mineral and petroleum based oils and NO ANIMAL TESTING! Meeting Auspect was a true Godsend. I not only fell in love with the products, but I fell in love with the people, too. 🇦🇺

While this post is short and sweet, it won’t be another month before you hear from me again. Lots of exciting announcements on the horizon!

“The hardest thing about ‘everything happens for a reason’ is waiting for the reason to come along.”

 

Cheers for now! 

 

~MLH


📷 cred: @auspectskincare 

Rome wasn’t built in a day

Rome wasn’t built in a day

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Gooooooooood moooooorning!  I didn’t blog last week because I couldn’t.  I didn’t have time and I also wasn’t sure how to to tie everything that I wanted to say into one blog post. I’ve found that sometimes its best to sit on things and wait until I’m ready.  This isn’t natural for me, as I’m innately an impulsive person.  That said, I try to apply this to all aspects of my life and have also found that compartmentalizing everything is key to staying sane (for me).

I would like to preface this for all the haters out there who think I am going to use this platform as a way to air everyones’ dirty laundry. I’m not and if you think that about me and this, then you really don’t know me at all.  That is a reflection of you, not me.  I also find it rather comical (and annoying)  that there are people in my life whom are sooooo concerned about me talking about their shit, yet they have no problem going around, behind my back, talking about my shit.  We all have shit. Its life. I’m not perfect. Don’t claim to be, but I own my dysfunction. I say this a lot: accountability is BIG for me. When I’m in the wrong, and I’m human, so it happens, I try to make amends as quickly as possible.  I don’t have time, or energy, for drama anymore.  I lived my life like that for 32 years and that was enough. I want to be happy, joyous and free. If you can’t accept that about me, then that’s your choice. This is who I am and I can’t stress this enough:  I like this person, way better than I like the old me.

Alcoholism has been prevalent my entire life.  I never understood why they called alcoholism a ‘family disease’ until I started going to Alanon. I am going to keep that to a minimum because it goes against the traditions of the program and I do not wish to disrespect that.   But I will say this: you don’t need to be affected by alcoholism to benefit from the principles of the program. As I heard in a meeting many years ago: “just go to a Cubs game and you’ve been affected (effected? always confuse those 2) by alcoholism” (Ha! Go Cubs). One of the first things I heard that made sense to me was this: “Imagine yourself in a hula hoop. Everything in that hula hoop, and mind you, it isn’t big, is within your control. Everything outside of the hula hoop, not within your control and not your business.”.                   I’m a visual learner,  so this really resonated with me. I was in tears when I heard it and said in a share: “Holy shit, I’ve spent my entire life in everyone else’s hula hoop!”.  That was a major epiphany for me and marks when I started to change. Correction, found the courage to start changing my life & myself. Now, for those that don’t know the details around my story and timeline, this was before I got engaged and before I got really sick.

This is me. Take it or leave it.  This is the person I want to be and have worked damn hard to get here. Have I made massive mistakes and poor choices in my life?  You bet. Who hasn’t?  But I’ve also made great decisions and worked very hard at dealing with the cards life has dealt me, the best that I can, without having it become me.  Its a part of who I am, but not who I am.

I received a FB message this morning asking me about detox baths and epsom salt.  This person has been dealing with chronic pain their entire life and was also inquiring for a friend recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia (which I have, more on that later). This is part of the reason I choose to be transparent.  I want to turn the hell that I lived through into a positive and share some of the tools I’ve found that help me with those that are struggling.  I’m proud of that.  This is the person I want to be.  I’ll do a separate post on epsom salt with videos and pictures later. In the interim I’ll share this blog that was helpful for me when I first got diagnosed with lyme. 👇  Everyone has questions about lyme, fibromyalgia, which came first, do I still have it, how do I think I got it, etc.  Its complicated and I will post more information about that topic later because a lot of you ask and it actually saves me time, by doing so, so stay tuned.

Just like Alanon, you don’t need to be sick, per se, to benefit from all of the things ‘The Healthy Apple ‘ talks about on her blog.  If you’re hungover, have the flu, or have aches and pains that come with aging, take a detox bath.  Its pretty simple, but the most important thing to remember is to rinse off afterwards. You don’t want your skin to reabsorb the toxins back in afterwards. Make sure to drink plenty of water and rest if you feel like your body needs it.

🍎 🍏

http://thehealthyapple.com/epsom-salt-detox-bath-how-to/

🍏🍎

Lastly, if you haven’t listened to Brene Brown on 99U/TED Talks, you’re missing out. She’s been featured on Oprah and, in my opinion, incredible. I love how she self deprecates and adds humor into talking about vulnerability and criticism.  A lot of what she discusses is parallel to the things I’ve learned in Alanon, so I embrace this type of thinking.  Show up, stay in your hula hoop, live and let live.  What this world would look like if we stopped trying to make people something different from what they are and just focused on ourselves.

“If you aren’t in the arena with me, also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback!”

Enjoy your Saturday, folks!

~MLH 💋