Chronic illness, Coping, Hyper Pots, Hyperadrenergic POTS, Overcoming, Uncategorized

Aging – The Quest to Make Gratitude My Mirror

Looking around at the women I knew and saw – it seemed that aging took a stronger hold after 40. Bodies, faces, hair… I began to think that 40 was the magical age when I’d become “old.”


27 days after turning 40, I became so unbelievably sick. Life as I knew it… stopped. Dysautonomia is like a direct flight to living in an 80-year-old body.
I’m working my way back to health (a term measured in feeling, not beauty). For me, health means moderate activity – nothing strenuous enough to give me a toned body. It means medications that increase my blood volume and my weight. It means that I fight for moments of strength and joy… and I find them.


So 40 is not the magical age when I became old. It has been an age where I’ve begun to accept imperfections externally and internally. An age where I’m letting go of what the world thinks is important, in part, because I’ve “walked” through what it’s like to be bedridden; to not be able to do the wonderful, small things that give me joy – and I KNOW these small things are so much more valuable than how a dress falls and the texture of my hair. Gratitude is the best mirror.


Has being “cute” given me power over the years? Yes. I believe it has gotten me jobs. It’s the first thing my husband saw when he met me. It has made people want to be my friend or accept me into a group. My power now is strength and experience. Am I afraid to lose my external beauty? You bet! But I’m proactively making peace with it. I call to mind my friends and family who died young and never had the blessing of growing old or seeing their children grow up.

I’m seeking lessons from those who have aged before me: how they carry themselves, what they continue to contribute, and how they see the world. I want to soak up their knowledge.

I search for blogs and Instagram accounts that feature women aging to balance society’s constant messaging that youth must be attained at all costs. For me, this is an especially important step. Due to my illnesses, I’ll never be able to use fillers and Botox like so many of my peers. Sometimes, my mind wanders and I imagine a gathering with friends where I look so much older than everyone else at the table. I want to find joy at that table, not discomfort, not shame.

Do I still want to be lovely? Certainly. I’ll seek out a pretty dress and fix my hair. I’ll find a new foundation that works with aging skin, but I dont want to fight aging. I want to embrace it, to share all of its gifts. I want my spirit to have the light of youth and the experience of age, the calm of having navigated numerous seas, and the knowing that love is all that really matters… and that includes self love.

Recent Posts:

The Truths of Where I Am

I feel stronger and the gratitude I have for this is immeasurable. I am getting better about reading my body and learning my new limitations. My limitations are for my body, not my spirit. I need to rest several times throughout the day to be able to keep going. Once I get dressed, I rest.… Continue reading The Truths of Where I Am

Making space for my new life

In this new season of life, coffee and wine have been moved to the do not consume list. While I’m okay with that, I still miss the idea of what they represented for me: company, friends, comfort, warmth… I think that’s why I’ve been reluctant to tuck away the coffee pot and wine rack. John… Continue reading Making space for my new life

The frienDship fern

I’ve adored this fern for years. I’ve protected it from deer, replanted it as it grew, and sat in its shade as it hung from the porch eave.  Caring for it every morning was part of how I calmed myself. This winter, I was too sick to care for it during the freeze and it… Continue reading The frienDship fern

One good thing

Finding one good thing can make the world right again. Today, my good thing is very simple—cream of wheat. My stomach has been sick and my food choices, limited.  It’s been comforting to find one warm, soothing thing that I can eat. Would you believe that it’s become my equivalent for coffee and dessert? I’m… Continue reading One good thing

More than a walk

I’ve been feeling a little down lately. I think that’s normal. The world is coming alive again and it emphasizes some of my limitations. I cherish the days when I’m healthy enough to walk through the creek behind our little house. There are so many spots to stop and rest. Usually when I slow down,… Continue reading More than a walk

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Relearning how to interact with the world when you run on a day-to-day baisis

With the world reopening and me feeling better, our schedules are getting busier again. My new limitations make things confusing to navigate. I want to say yes to taking my children to practices and birthday parties, to visiting with friends and family—but the reality is settling in that I run on a day-to-day basis and… Continue reading Relearning how to interact with the world when you run on a day-to-day baisis

The untended garden house

This is the first spring for our little garden house. It was a dream five years in the making. John worked so hard to design and build it. I researched plants and could see everything in my mind’s eye. Yet, in December, I started to feel unwell and grew sicker for the next few months.… Continue reading The untended garden house

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Adrenaline, anxiety, Caretakers, Chronic illness, community, Coping, Faith, Garden, God, Hyper Pots, Hyperadrenergic POTS, Mobility, Overcoming, Parenting, Uncategorized, Weak

I didn’t know what was coming, but God did

Five years ago, my life changed. Two of the people I loved the most passed away. My grandfather who helped raise me and my cousin who was only 39. She had five-month-old twins. 

Trajedy like that brings clarity. I could see what really mattered and what I needed to change in my life. I was healthy then and the interesting thing is that all of the changes I made, ended up being amazing blessings when I became ill. 

I had been working 60-hour weeks. The stress was high and I was missing so much time with my little girls. I resigned. I was going to take a year off but ended up taking on part-time work from home instead. Luckily, I’ve been able to maintain this work even after becoming ill and it allows us the income for all of our necessities. 

I joined a church and made the proactive choice to surround myself with good people. These are the people who have shown up in my life since I got sick. They’ve brought food, journals, and kindenss when I needed it most.

We also bought this little house on a pretty piece of land. I was looking for somewhere that felt like a vacation. It’s tiny- two bedrooms and one bathroom, but outside, there’s room to roam. I can take short walks and feel restored… or winded. Living here has been such a blessing while being sick. The view from my bed is lovely and I have lots of little friends to keep me company. Plus, my cousin’s babies (who are five now) live just a few minutes away and I get to love on them for her. 

All these decisions have brought me joy during a tough season. I feel like God was lining my path with gifts to get me through. 

Retrospectively, don’t we always see how God was navigating things for our good? Even the hardest times, he lined with blessings. 

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Things I used to hide

A year and a half ago, I posted these pics of our trip to Enchanted Rock. What I didn’t share was that I couldn’t make it up the hill. My body was so weak and tired. I stopped about a third of the way up. (A third of the way sounds pretty good to me… Continue reading Things I used to hide

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Chronic illness, community, Coping, Fatigue, heart palpitations, Hyper Pots, Hyperadrenergic POTS, Overcoming, Uncategorized

Our life has to be our message

I have a need to talk about what I’m living and learning right now, a calling maybe. I don’t think living with illness means you dwell in a corner and say that everything is great. I think there can be a helpful honestly here that binds us.

I’m often told to be careful with what I say. That my words have power. I believe they do. Yet, I don’t think that means I should preclude the honesty of how hard and beautiful this journey can be.

I pray. I cry. I have fears. I have strength. I am so completely human and yet I am on a path that has been created by God.

Some people want me to speak only healing words over myself so that I can become a testimony. Some people want me to say that I’m fine because the truth makes them uncomfortable. Some people genuinely want to know where I am on this journey.

Y’all, I’m not on the road to having a testimony. Every day that I live must be a testimony – one of devotion, perseverance, faith, surrender, gratitude… one of honesty.

If you ask me how I’m doing; I will tell you. And when I ask you how you’re doing; I hope you’ll tell me. I don’t want to hear what you’re trying to convince yourself of. I want to know exactly where you are so we can walk step in step together.

God didn’t give us the spirits we have so that we could pretend them into something else. Goals, faith, and determination are important. So is a clear view of our gifts in the present moment.

I have to remember that little eyes are watching how I navigate this life.

So, this is how I’m going to do life. I’m going to lean in to the inklings, to the callings, to the hard and beautiful conversations.

I will speak from where my spirit is and pray for guidance and humility. I will be a friend. I will be vulnerable. I will fail. I will try again. And I will always, always love.

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My first day alone

Today is a day I have been dreading… John went back to the office. I dropped the girls off at school and came home to a dark house. The electricity was out and to my surprise, it felt comforting. I lit a candle, let the cat inside, and sat with the dog as we watched… Continue reading My first day alone

Better days are here

The first emotion I used to feel when I woke up was fear. Fear of putting my feet on the ground to see if I could stand. It was the gauge of whether or not I’d have a decent day or if I’d struggle. Well, I’ve recently had a slew of decent and even good… Continue reading Better days are here

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Chronic illness, Coping, Faith, God, Parenting, Uncategorized

If God asked me if I wanted this path, what would I say?

I imagine God asking me, “Would you like an easy and beautiful life where your spirit grows a little, or would you like a challenging life that reshapes how you see the world? Either way, I’ll be with you.”

I’m fairly certain that I would have responded, “Easy is good. I can grow a little.”

Maybe that’s why this wasn’t my choice to make.

Sometimes, I want off this lifepath. I want my old body back with all of its freedom and abilities. Still, I know what’s more important than my physical healing is my spiritual healing. I feel Him with me on this journey. You see, no one truly understands what it’s like to live in my body at any given time except Him and me.

I live a life of paradoxes-but don’t we all? There are moments of total fear and complete surrender. Every day, I fail and succeed. I am weak and I am strong. I am mean and I am kind.

Being ill makes you reevaluate EVERYTHING. Especially who you are and how you interact with the world. Sometimes it can feel like your old life doesn’t make sense for you anymore. And the truth is, it may not, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Before I became ill, I didn’t see how I could remove anything from my to-do list. My sense of self was dependent on how much I achieved and how well I achieved it. Now, there are days when I have to lay down to recover from showering. So, imagine how conscious I have to be in organizing my schedule to get everything else in: working, making meals, caring for my daughters, catching up with John… If something depletes me and doesn’t increase the greater good, I don’t have room for it. The result is that many of my past priorities have drifted away. My old sense of self is being redefined.

It feels like I’m cleaning my soul and making room for what really matters. In this season I’m finding spaces that I didn’t know existed and callings I didn’t expect. When I live like this, it gives me the energy I need for my new life. 

Still, there are things that must be done that I have little energy for. That’s the reality of it. Sometimes it’s something as simple as picking up the girls from school. My body can become weak and I drape myself over the console to rest as I drive. We’ll do homework. I’ll make dinner, then remind them 10 times to shower. I push myself and become exhausted and cranky. I’ll become angry that what little energy I have is spent on mundane to do’s. Yet, aren’t these the beautiful moments I live for, the small interactions with the people I love most? In these moments, I need such grace.

I suppose there are parts of me that still long for control and for achievement. My body is slowing me down and maybe that’s what my soul needed.

My friend sent me this picture. It fits where I am so perfectly.

Okay God… you make the path, just keep walking with me. Life doesn’t have to be easy for it to be good.

Thank you for reading this post.

I want so much for people to understand this journey – what we learn and how we grow through being sick.

If you’d like to join me, you can subscribe to this blog and its social accounts to stay up on new posts.

WITH MUCH LOVE, SARA

Blessings in your inbox every Sunday

Start your week with a bible verse for reflection, positive quotes, and inspirational articles.

Here’s a little more about my story and how I’m coping with chronic illness.

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A Diagnosis

For years, I’ve known something was wrong. Tests were normal. Doctors would point to anxiety and a vitamin deficiency and I’d be on my way. I’d tell John, “When I get to the other side, I’m going to ask God what this was. I have something they can’t figure out.” Two days after Christmas in… Continue reading A Diagnosis

anxiety, Caretakers, Chronic illness, community, Compression Stockings, Coping, Faith, The Beginning, Weakness

So, let’s talk about going from being the caretaker to being taken care of…

Being taken care of…

Does the thought of that make you uncomfortable? I’m so uncomfortable with it. Why is that? Do you feel like you have to earn and not receive? Don’t you feel a great sense of purpose when you take care of someone else? So, why would you deny others the opportunity to take care of you?

The majority of my life, I have been a caretaker as a wife, mom, employee, daughter, sister, friend… I never thought that would change. Let’s be honest – I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR THAT TO CHANGE! Now, I am in a place where I need a lot of help. Sometimes, on tough days, help with things as basic as washing my hair or putting on compression stockings so I can walk more throughout the day. Can you imagine someone putting on support hose for you… all the unflattering angles?! I often look at John and wait for him to get annoyed with my NUMEROUS requests, but he doesn’t. He jumps at the opportunity to make me feel better. He’s worn out but he’s honored to help me.  

There are many moments when I question my value, my deserving of help; and I fear that I’ll burn out those around me. I don’t want to be a weight. None of us do. Yet, we all need help in one way or another and we are able to give help in one way or another. We can give the gift of prayer from our beds, or calls and texts of encouragement to those who need it. People know that we know what it’s like to be scared… and we know what it’s like to be brave. When challenges come into their lives, they will reach out to us, and we have to be ready to share everything we’ve learned to help them.

I’m not great at accepting help, but I’m working on it and I think it’s been a huge lesson in humility and gratitude – one that I am still learning. I can see that it is good for my soul to receive. It is changing me.

I pray that you give openly and receive openly; there is a season for each.

Ellie took this picture. She loved how the light broke through the clouds. I agree with her.

I want so much for people to understand this journey – what we learn and how we grow through being sick.

If you’d like to join me, you can subscribe to this blog and its social accounts to stay up on new posts.

with much love, sara

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I know what death feels like

My body stopped sending enough blood to my lungs. It felt like death, like a huge weight was crushing my chest and keeping me from breathing. I gasped and ripped off any constricting clothing, trying to find air.

I tried to sit up on the couch but hit the floor instead. And then, for some reason, I crawled as though I could crawl away from this, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t strip this off or crawl out of it. In some ways, I had to give in and in other ways, I had to fight.

My adrenaline went up (which it common with Hyper POTS), and my fear was palpable. I started hyperventilating, making everything worse.

With numb hands, I reached for the phone to call Dio, my friend who is also a gifted physician. She had me lay flat, put my legs in the air, and slow my breathing. I let her go to focus on breathing. Talking was too much work.

And slowly, the blood seeped back into my lungs and I could breathe beautifully as long as I stayed lying down. That’s because most POTS symptoms cease when you’re horizontal. My body is in a fight against gravity.

My fear subsided, leaving me sad and angry. I wanted to throw a massive tantrum but that would have stolen my air. So, I fought to stay calm and I let a few tears roll down my face. With each breath, I was learning to be mentally and emotionally tougher.

By now, Isla had drug over a blanket, my journals, and a book. I didn’t see her do it. It was like she just appeared and her presence was life. She opened the book and held its pages above my face to distract me. Then she drew pictures. I asked if she was scared and she said, “yes.” Which made me fight harder. I told her, “I’m sick but I’ll live. I’ll be here. I’ll be fine.”

John rubbed my legs and Ellie brushed my hair. Every time I tried to get up, the weight on my chest returned and I stopped because I didn’t want to feel like death again.

So, I made peace with staying on the floor until a thought hit me… I’ll have to go to the bathroom soon. No… I’d rather lie in my own urine than not be able to breathe again. We called my mom and asked her to pick up incontinence pads in case I needed them and I knew I’d need them.

After working a 12-hour shift, my mom arrived with the supplies that I didn’t want but needed. She talked with me. Strengthened me.

John moved a mattress to the living room floor and my mom helped roll me onto it. El climbed in with me. John and Isla laid on the couch next to the mattress. We slowly drifted to sleep.

Around four in the morning, I woke up, and fear flooded me. Could I sit up? Oh Lord, please let me sit up. Please let this be over. I slowly sat up… and I could breathe. It’s a better day.

This isn’t just me. This is my family. This is every chronically or terminally ill person out there and so many of them have it much worse. I’m lucky, I have an amazing support system. Can you imagine people who don’t? How much harder is it for them to fight, to find peace? We can’t just tell them about God, we have to be His hands and feet to care for them when they are in need.

A special thank you for caregivers:

“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did it for Me.”

Matthew 25:40

Side note: 

When John took this pic, I looked at him angrily like, “What on earth are you doing?” He said he wanted a way to explain how bad things get if he needed to. Now, I’m glad he took it. It helps me remember how scared I was and that I got through it.

Thank you for reading this post.

I want so much for people to understand this journey – what we learn and how we grow through being sick.

If you’d like to join me, you can subscrcibe to this blog and its social accounts to stay up on new posts.

with much love, sara

Blessings in your inbox every Sunday

Start your week with a bible verse for reflection, positive quotes, and inspirational articles.

 

Here’s a little more about my story.

You might be interested in…

Blessings of Chronicle Illness on Instagram

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