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Letting Go of What We Cannot Control

“Anything you can’t control is teaching you how to let go.”

Jackson Kiddard

As I was practicing yoga this morning two words stuck with me that I knew I wanted to grow from: flexibility and the art of allowing.  Many people believe that doing yoga is an exercise to tone the body into better health and better flexibility of the muscles and tissues that make up our individual bodies.  However, that is just a small portion of what the art of yoga really is.  Yes, yoga has helped tone my body and has become a great form of exercise, it has also helped me become more flexible physically.  Yoga is also teaching me how to become more flexible in places that are far more important than the outside of my body: my heart and mind.  I will be very honest.  I am not a very flexible person.  There is a very sound reason as to why I am not flexible: chronic pain.  I manage chronic pain naturally and have a routine I follow each day in order to manage pain without pain managing me.  I spent a decade of my life with chronic pain consuming my entire life.  I lived, breathed, and felt pain inside and out for every single day of what could have been the best years of my life: my teen years and my early twenties.  I was in doctor’s offices or getting operations while my friends were on their phones planning what to do for the weekend.  I probably spent as many hours in waiting rooms as I did college classes.  My life could have been defined as: “hurry up and wait for a cure.”  After coming close to just ending my entire life I found what saved me and that was the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where I learned how to manage pain naturally.  I have a routine I follow daily that helps me in so many ways manage my pain without a cure or medications.  I am living as opposed to barely surviving.  I had to let go of the idea that I would find a cure and surrender to the fact that I could live a happy, healthy life despite pain.  I have had to give up a lot in order to manage pain how I choose but I had nothing when I was looking for a cure so the benefits outweigh the negatives one thousand percent.

However, there are ways I am learning to be more flexible.  I am a mother and one huge lesson motherhood will teach you is how to be flexible.  Our family went away this past weekend to Atlantic City, NJ for a long snowed in weekend.  Yes, I packed yoga DVD’s and some healthy snacks.  However, I had to be flexible.  I stayed up much later than usual and ate things I would not normally eat.  My schedule was totally thrown off but I was having so much fun swimming and just chilling out in pajamas in our hotel room that I really did not think about pain despite not following my usual management of chronic pain.  I surrendered to just letting go and having fun making memories with the people I love.  I was able to get back on my schedule yesterday and I must say what I do does work.  With that said, there are ways I need to be more flexible in my mind and heart which will allow me to be more flexible in my life.  Our thoughts create our reality and I would like my thoughts to be more flexible.  Our mind is like a huge muscle and we can work out our biceps and triceps as much as we want but if we do not focus on what is inside our minds and hearts we will never be truly happy.  I am working on being more flexible and allowing the dreams I have to come into my world without forcing them.  One can work towards a dream or goal without it taking control over their entire existence.  Everything I have gone through in my thirty five years has been teaching me how to be flexible: body mind and spirit and how to allow things to happen while working towards what you most desire.

chronic pain, Positive Energy, Support for Chronic Pain

No Such Thing as Wasting Time

ead9ba718bc68c3e2d132aa971ade4421f57b36ebbad23855ead79c7c0a5ae5c“The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time.”

John Lennon

Each morning I awake, as most of us do on auto pilot.  We have a plan and a system we use each day that rarely changes.  For me and how I manage chronic pain having a plan is crucial to my pain management.  Last night (as always) I wrote down each thing I had to do for the day: chronic pain wise.  As boring as this will appear, I will copy what I wrote down on here for you all to understand what I am trying to get across.

Saturday: August 8th



Grocery Shopping (along with list)


Plan for Disney Trip

Breathing Exercise

Okay, there you all have it: the life of Jessica Lynne Martin.  May appear boring but it really is not for me.  I have chronic pain and I am able to function and manage it naturally while enjoying life: nothing is boring for me when it comes to managing chronic pain, family, motherhood, or writing.  I get very anxious on weekends because my routines for managing chronic pain are often interrupted, usually for great reasons but nonetheless I do get nervous.  I awoke this morning and our three-year old has a cold, nothing major but considering the fact we are traveling to Florida in less than a week the main goal is to get healthy.  Many of the above plans went out the window except for two of them: exercise and grocery shopping. We randomly decided to go to rent a movie from Red Box (Oh my word, how I miss video stores…come back) and rented the new version of Annie which I had been totally against since Annie was my favorite musical and movie as a child and to think of a re-make made me crazy.  However, my good friend raved about the movie so I caved knowing my daughter would like it no matter what because it had music.  Talk about positive energy and distractions from chronic pain.  This was one of the greatest movies I have seen in a long time.  I loved it to the point that I re-wound the final scene featuring the song: “The Sun will Come Out Tomorrow” about ten times and was dancing and literally doing cart wheels in the living room.  Yes, I just bought the movie on Amazon.  For those of you who know me well, you know all the reasons I absolutely am obsessed with this movie.  I started thinking about how I manage chronic pain without medicine and what helps the most: positive energy and distractions, which usually means music and/or movies.  Yes, I must follow my chronic pain management routine as seen above, especially exercise and meditation but positive energy/humor/and distractions are what truly make me smile.  Last night I was having a difficult time not focusing on pain so I began looking up quotes from the movie: The Hangover and was laughing like crazy.  I posted more quotes to Instagram than I care to admit but some things just do not get old.   Even now my lips are curling into a smile thinking about the scene from the movie when Ed Helms realizes he has just married a stripper.  He screams at Zach Galifianakis: “I married a whore!”  Zach Galifianakis replies: “How dare you! She’s a nice lady!!!”  I may or may have not lost many of you who have not seen this movie and for those who have yet to see this movie get to a movie store, I mean a Red Box (see, we need video stores back stat) and see this hysterical film.

Is wasting time being happy really wasting time.  Even Dave Matthews Band has one of their biggest hit songs named: “Wasting Time.”  There are always going to be things we need to do or we think we need to do but what is more important than being happy and healthy.  For most of my readers you understand what I am writing more than anyone because you live with some form of an invisible illness.  I have written this before but during my darkest hours of chronic pain when I was close to ending my life I swore if I could just read a book and not think about pain I would be happy.  Well, here I am watching the new rendition of the classic film: Annie doing cartwheels with my three-year old.  What the hell could be more magical than that?  I truly believe that if you are doing something that makes you happy and in turn makes those around you happy, you are doing the opposite of wasting time.  You are not merely surviving, you are living: which is something many people never get to experience because of their fear of: “wasting time.”


chronic pain, Support for Chronic Pain

Takes One Small Thing to Turn Day Around….


“It’s funny how sometimes all we needed was a line from a song, a quote from a book or movie to realize how we really feel and all we needed was a smile from a friendly stranger, a good cup of tea (or coffee) a walk in the rain, an old song to briefly put us back together before we fall apart all over again.”

There are so many mornings, even now that I awake and my immediate thought is not positive.  Does this really mean that I am going to have a terrible bay pain wise or just in general: history has proven no.   My first thought in the morning does not predict my day whether it be positive or negative.  I have probably seen the quote: “Begin each morning with a positive thought and see how your world changes.” The quote is very sound and true, however it puts a lot of pressure on us and in some ways sets us up for failure.  Yesterday, I awoke and my first thought was about physical pain and my second thought was about the nightmare I had, and my third thought was based on fear and worry.  Then I got out of bed and exercised and had a pretty great day.  At any given part of your day, week, month, year or life you can begin to be happy, grateful, and positive.  So many of us wake up with our thoughts directed immediately to our physical pain and/or worries and stress about either the past or future.  We begin catastrophizing and over thinking and all of a sudden we feel paralyzed in our bed but worse in our thoughts.  Ten years I lived like this with very small ounces of joy or happiness because of chronic pain.  Now, it is quite different.  I cannot express enough how much distractions and the silliest of things can turn my day around.  I love music and movies.  There are quotes from movies that I literally use each and every day.  Most of them are so beyond random no one has a clue what I am talking about but it makes me smile.  My three year old proved to me how often I quote one particular movie: Elf with Will Farrell.  We were at the playground and she saw a little boy she plays with once and a while and that goes to our pool.  She looked at me and said: “Mommy, I KNOW HIM!”  She sounded exactly like Will Farrell in the movie Elf when he sees Santa Clause.  She has never seen the movie Elf but clearly I say “I Knowww him” a lot.  A couple of days ago it felt like the morning from hell.  Tantrums, phone calls, knocks on door, battles with my daughter just to brush her damn teeth, writing was interrupted and when I think of something to write I have to just do it.  My heart leaps and I cannot wait to start writing and all the words just pour out.  I could feel my agitation, frustration, and physical pain increasing and increasing.  I took my daughter and drove to a playground we have never seen.  I was beginning to catastrophize even while in my car: after it took ten minutes just to get her in the car seat and buckled.  Parents, a little tip: always allot yourself twenty minutes if you have a child in the toddler range because he or she will be slower than a snail and this is a developmental thing, he or she is not trying to annoy you as much as that behavior is annoying.  The song “Little Talks” by Monsters of Men came on and within seconds both my three year old and I were singing and the music just like magic brought me happiness, peace, and an awareness to what really matters.

There will be times for many of us but especially those who are in those years where chronic pain has taken over that you do not get out of ved and all thoughts are directed to pain.  I am not saying that to be negative: I am being honest about how I lived for ten years.   However, your mind is a lot stronger than you body.  If you can say: “F it, I am getting up” and put on your favorite movie or get in your car and listen to a song you love, see what happens.  Don’t expect a miracle.  Expectation is the root of despair: trust me I am still working on that.  What difference does it make: you are already miserable, may as well just put on The Hangover, Wedding Crashers, Step Brothers, Planes Trains and Automobiles: you get the idea.

I used to feel guilty (man guilt is so ridiculous) for not watching more “good feeling shows/movies.”  I love Ted Talks and I love listening to Carolyn Myss speak and I have the Law of Attraction CD in my car.  Oprah has her own network based on many philosophies that radiate with me and cause me to think and empower me.  However, sometimes I just want to watch The Hangover for the millionth time and hear a hilarious quote that many would get sick of but makes me laugh.  Sometimes I do not want to think about my passions and working on myself.  I am not The Buddha nor have I reached a level on consciousness where I have evolved and I admire so many writers and philosophers such as, Eckhart Tolle but I am still a thirty three year old mother who has come a long way but has a lot of work to do on herself.  One of the people I have admired for about ten years and who I would love to be more like said to me this week something I will not forget.  She said: “I am so lucky to know you.  I knew when I first met with you, you had this light that would come out at some point.  You remind me a lot of myself.”  This woman is truly an angel and someone I look up to more than I have ever looked up to anyone.  She is the one person I truly trust as she always tells me how it is and knows me way too well to ever bullshit her.  That was one of the best compliments I have ever received.  Maybe I do not see what she sees, yet.  However, I believe her: she has seen me at my rock bottom and has never steered me wrong.

We are all works in progress but please do one little thing to help yourself: just for you.  In those moments when your mind cannot stop thinking about pain try to get up put on a song, go for a walk, watch a movie that you love or even a reality TV show. Just get out of your mind.

Have a great Saturday!

Name this movie and I apologize for the language.

“I married a whore!”

“How dare you, she’s a nice lady.”


Support for Chronic Pain

How Do You Run Away from Your Mind?


“How do you run away from things that are in your head?”

You don’t run away: You change your thoughts

People ask me questions such as the one above quite frequently.  I understand why, especially because my chronic pain is literally in my head because of brain surgery and the treatments for years after.  I tried to run away from the things in my head: pain, sadness, loneliness, anxiety and every other symptom that comes with chronic pain.  Running away to Colorado never changed the things in my head or the physical pain in my head but I will never regret that crazy decision I made on a whim.  It brought me to my rock bottom and subsequently to the Mayo Clinic in MN.  You cannot run away from anything that your mind or soul feel.  However, you can use a ton of tools that literally change your thoughts, feelings, and pain.  Just this morning I awoke and my first thought was of chronic pain.  My second thought was about the things in my life I am sad about.  My third thought was: “Get the hell up and put on some music and work out.”  Forty minutes later I have a clearer mind and more positive thoughts, along with the song Riptide that is stuck in my head.

Two days ago, my most avid reader and the person I help (or hope I help) vented to me all the things that were going wrong in her world.   She has a right to be very upset and her battle with chronic pain is quite validated.  This is an eighteen year old girl who lives in the UK.  She never gives herself enough credit and is so much stronger than I was at her age.   She actually takes my advice on how to live with chronic pain naturally and be happy.  I swear, at her age I would not have taken my advice.  My way of managing chronic pain is very difficult and takes a huge amount of courage to do.  At eighteen I was determined to find a cure and if I saw this blog back then I would have cried.

After she wrote out all the things that are truly affecting her happiness and well being, I asked her to do an exercise that just popped into my head.  I wrote: “Get a piece of paper.   On one side write each thing you are able to control and on the other side write the things that are totally out of your control.  Ten minutes later she had it done and sent it to me.  Lets say she had twenty problems and put each on this “in my control, out of my control” list.  About fifteen of them were on the side of “cannot control” and five on the side “can control.”  I asked her to hang it up somewhere she would be able to see each day to remind herself that she must let go of what she can not control.  Why the hell have I not done this? Most things we are worried about or sad about are totally out of our control.  We cannot control how others treat us; we can only control how we react to that treatment.  We cannot control other’s views of our invisible illness; we can choose to either give those people information on chronic pain or we can choose to just ignore their opinions.  Trust me, everyone has issues and no person has any right to judge you so I think you should choose the latter but that is up to you.  Since I gave her this exercise it has helped her.  I guess I should probably do the same exercise considering I need to practice what I preach, not to mention it was a really good idea.  It is okay to compliment yourself.  We should all do this exercise.  Not only does it help to write things out but to visually see what we can control and what we cannot can give us a lot of peace.  All readers who are daring enough  to take my advice, there is some homework for the weekend, mine as well.

There are so many ways to run away from the thoughts that do not serve you.  The best being distractions.  When you are sitting in bed thinking and thinking you tend to create more problems that do not even exist.  Please as hard as it is (I know) get up and do something you enjoy.  I do not care what that is, Real World episode: go for it.  My personal distractions are: exercise, yoga, writing, cleaning, organizing, cooking, being outside, (damn snow) listening to music, going for a drive with my daughter singing to Mumford and Sons, dancing, watching game shows, playing and teaching my daughter.  Train your brain to not think about pain.

I truly encourage anyone reading this to do my random exercise: writing down what you can control and what you cannot.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, today is the present hence a gift”


Pure Joy

I read a quote once that said: “If you want your children to turn out well, spend fifty percent less money on them, and fifty percent more time with them.” Having a child has made my chronic pain worse and better at the same time. It is sometimes more difficult to manage my pain because well the needs of a one year old do come before my own. I manage my pain without medication by following a pretty rigid schedule in which I make sure to incorporate certain things in my day such as: exercise, meditation, healthy eating, moderation etc. When I worked a nine to five job it was quite easy to incorporate a strict pain management schedule to my life.

I woke up at four fifty am every morning and was at the gym by five am. I slept in work out clothes every night and my gym in less than a mile away from my home. I was able to incorporate meditation at my job because as a medical social worker I taught and practiced meditation with my patients and they loved it. I was able to pack a healthy lunch and oddly enough at the job I loved was able to practice moderation most of the time. My boss knew up front about my brain surgery and my chronic pain before he hired me. Having been through brain surgery and chronic pain I was able to be the best medical social worker I could be. I knew what my patients felt and had more empathy and love for them than your average social worker.

Now, I am a stay at home mom and I would not change that for the world. Although some days are more difficult than others to incorporate each technique I use to manage my pain without medicine, most days are quite easy to follow my management schedule. It has taken a lot of trial and error to figure out how to make it work but each week it does get easier. When my daughter agrees to nap I force myself to do a meditation even when there are a hundred other things I would love to be doing like laundry, cleaning, organizing, etc. I know that for my pain management I need to do this as often as possible. And ya know what, the dishes, laundry, cooking etc. always get done. I very rarely miss a day of exercise. My daughter now has become such a mini me and loves exercise. She actually got excited today when I put in a work out dvd until she demanded more attention but most of the time she loves it. She has perfected many yoga poses. Many morning she literally grabs my running shoes and says: “shoes, outside, shoes, outside” until we are outside running. Yes, that is becoming a little difficult because it is getting colder out but I always find a way to get in a work out in the morning. I have a no excuses rule to that as nothing helps manage my pain better than exercise. She is also the best distraction to my chronic pain that there can be. I am so beyond happy in this picture and we spend hours at a time at the playground. I do not need to spend a lot of money on my daughter because we are so active and just having fun. Talk about a distraction to pain: look at her face! We are just two happy girls playing at the playground. Who would ever look at me and think: she had brain surgery and suffers from chronic pain. People probably would not believe me. I was very scared to become a mother because of my chronic pain. But the fear of never being a mother totally outweighed that fear. My dream has always been to be a mother, chronic pain or not. Now that I am managing it well I honestly cannot wait to have another child.

It is a very good feeling knowing you can do something and make things work that you never thought you could. I was able to do a meditation today and as I write this I hear my daughter singing in the den to Tree Foo Tom. I am literally smiling ear to ear as I write this and the only reason pain is coming to my mind is because I am writing about it. Motherhood is hard. Motherhood is a lot harder managing chronic pain without medication but if I can do it anyone can. Do not let chronic pain take your dreams away. I almost let that happen, thank god I did not give up.


Pure Joy


Carry ON!

I forgot how much music can truly change how I am feeling and I’m sure many people feel this way. Today (just hours ago I was feeling down and defeated) I started playing youtube video Carry On by Fun (as MTV is now reality TV and I’m not usually awake when they show music videos…if they even do so anymore?) I LOVE this song!

The lyrics are just amazing and honestly can lift someone’s spirits up just by listening to them. Things happen to us all every day that we cannot explain and are saddened by. I sometimes have no clue why some of my chronic pain is worse some days and better others. I realized today that some people may just never understand or like me for that matter and that is ok. I have to just keep going no matter what stands in my way. I’ll never have answers to questions that I really want the answers to but no matter what I have to pick up my feet and carry on. Bad things are going to happen to me the rest of my life but great things are going to happen as well. My resiliency has definitely gotten better. I am able to bounce back much quicker to anything negative happening to me than I ever have been before. I did not realize that until twenty minutes ago when I played this song and watched the video. Even my little sick one year old was trying to dance a little.

If you are having a shitty day play this song!


Carry ON!