Spoonies of MSG411

Starting in January you will have six opportunities a month to meet up with other fellow spoonies. Twice in Sterling, twice in Dixon, and then twice for Tea Time rotating between local restaurants. Join us whenever you can. I’ve built a calendar on the website. I also made a 2019 printable sheet for you. 

Wellness meetings are a time to share, learn and get an “I understand. I have that too” from another spoonie. Knowing you are not alone in the journey can be so helpful. But also it’s a time to laugh, be encouraged and focus on yourself. I’m trying to figure out ways you can be there when is you are sick. I’d like to try FaceTiming if anyone is interested trying it from their phone, let me know. 

Tea Time is also for support, but was created to be slightly different. It’s not as private as Wellness meeting. Moreover it’s a way to get together in the community for fun. Hang out with a gaggle of people as un-normal as you., that get what you’re going through. 

One more thing. I’m going to attempt to start Blogging on the MSG411 website. The blog is called Get the Scoop. (pun on spoons) I hope everyone has a chance to read it and enjoy. I do what I do, because I believe in the importance of awareness of chronic disorders. So please share, I’m not putting myself out there for nothing. And word of mouth is the best advertisement I can do for MSG411 so please spread the word in the community that we exist. 

Look for my first blog: “Why Not to do a New Year’s Resolution.” I hope everyone had a great holiday. See you in January 

Your MSG411 Warrior

Amy Shoemaker


Tea Time

Thursday, November 8  

11:00 a.m. Airplay, Sterling

Stop in for a sip and chat.

Tai Chi & Tea with Trirong Khuntangta

Dates: Tuesday, November 13

Time: 4:00 PM

Where: Gingko Tree/Traditional Wellness Center

216 W. 1st St., Dixon IL

Free: to anyone suffering an illness, plus one friend (friend must sign-up also)

Free: one paid beverage per person from Gingko Tree Tea Shop compliments of your hostess, Amy Shoemaker.

Sign up here… https://msg411.net/events/

Tuesday, November 27 – My Invisible Illness Part 3

What is it like to have an invisible illness?

KSB Town Square Room 202

4:00 PM &

repeated again at 6:00 PM

Bring friends and family.

(don’t worry if you missed Part 1 & 2)

The Red Bell Pepper by Amy Shoemaker

Why do I talk about gross and embarrassing things? Perhaps it’s my calling, or a weird obsession to discuss my medically mysterious health. If anything, I see the importance of breaking the barrier of silence. There are millions of people with rare diseases, invisible diseases, illnesses that are hard to pinpoint and diagnose. Plausible evidence is minute, but I am here to shout, “I believe you!”

One of those embarrassing topics I’ve talked about is my tongue. There is a great probability when I visit a doctor, they will say the same thing. And they often do. There’s nothing wrong. Okay, step back a second. I understand in the beginning when physicians dismissed the amount of pain I was enduring from migraines. And I understand the lack of knowledge and understanding thirty-five years ago.

But, hold your horses. Is it not believable when I stick out my tongue and there is an evident inflamed fissure? When my tongue swells to the point there are ridges outlining my teeth like a play-dough caste in my mouth. Or how about the fact that it effects my speech.

I can see it. My husband can see it. A friend asks, ou, does it hurt? To which I answered, I’ve had worse pain, but yah, it hurts. Yet, why can’t I convince the medical field something’s not right? Repeatedly, I questioned my own sanity. Was I the cause? Was it nerves? One thing’s for sure. I became extremely self-conscious of bad breath, and it caused me to shy away from being social. An ENT doctor told me, the tongue is a muscle. In order to heal it, you need to rest it. Hence, I didn’t talk for ten days. It helped a little, but wasn’t practical long term or easy for that matter.

I tested for food allergies. Nothing. Yet I proved certain foods caused my tongue to flare. Was it my gut? There was a great possibility. Especially since I developed the tongue issue after having thrush. What did it mean? I can’t count how many times my health problems provoked fear. It’s not easy going to bed with a debilitating migraine. Would I wake up the next morning or die in my sleep from a stroke? Then there’s fear of the big C. It’s only natural when you start seeing a weird phenomenon on your tongue to wonder. Around goes the carousel of anxiety.

Thank God for the internet. And by that I mean the access to knowledge and hope. I won’t go without saying, don’t believe everything you read. But reliable sources like the Mayo Clinic is a good start. I’ve spent twenty-five years reading, researching and asking questions about migraine. In the beginning I had to read good old-fashion books.

What I’m going to say next, I relay because, I want you to understand the depth of my concern. I apologize if you have a weak stomach. The bad spot on my tongue was starting to resemble ringworm. Yuck! Who want’s to kiss someone with that!? Back on the internet I went.

The breakthrough. The right information appeared. 411 heaven! Geographic tongue. I can’t tell you what it is like to put a name to something that you’ve struggled with for what feels like forever. I wanted to cry when I read the description of geographic tongue. Not because I was upset. On the contrary, I was overjoyed. It’s real. It has a name. It is related to psoriasis, which I also have. The oral form of psoriasis, Bingo! Why didn’t anyone tell me this? It’s a rare disease. The story of my life. Rare!

Geographic tongue and fissured tongue commonly occur together. Ding, ding, ding, you won the prize. Geographic tongue is a harmless, benign condition that isn’t linked to any infection or cancer. It can come and go or change very quickly. It can last up to a year, vary in size, shape, and color. About one in 10 people with geographic tongue may have mild discomfort or a burning or painful sensation. Me. Usually, I’m the one in ten. There may be sensitivity to substances such as hot, spicy, or acidic foods. Me again. Geographic tongue is not contagious and cannot be passed to anyone else…ha-llelu-jah, hallelujah, Hallelujah!

Some of you may be thinking, I wasn’t clinically diagnosed. You’re right. But that doesn’t burst my bubble. I’ve been labeled a worry-wart, but I also think if there is something really wrong with me, it’s going to have to fight a lot harder to show itself. Recently, I started saying a new affirmation. I am healthy, happy and free. Discovering geographic tongue has freed me from worry. What can be better than that?

So, what’s with the red bell pepper? Well, the same morning I read my self-diagnoses, I was making chili for our Halloween dinner. I cut a slice of red bell pepper and it came out in the shape of a heart. It was pretty neat, and I wanted to give it to someone. Who? It’s kinda silly to be handed a piece of bell pepper. Then it became clear. It was for me. To love myself. To care for myself. To believe in myself. It was  exactly what I’d been preaching.

The red bell pepper was for me. Outside the fall leaves had changed overnight to brilliant gold, fiery orange and deep hues of red. The color red is rooted to the earth and means to be safe, balance, grounded, confident, patient, abundant and healthy. I was all these things.

Happy, healthy and free. ❤️

*Note: I have not discussed my tongue issues with my current doctor. Mostly, because it had gotten better in the period of time I’d seen her, with the exception of the recent flare up. I hadn’t felt the need to bring it up, as other health issues were more important. But, I will definitely be talking to her about it on my next visit, and get a real diagnosis.


Photos Library


Tai Chi and Tea

Tuesday, October 9th 4:00 PM at the Gingko Tree

Thursday Tea Time

Thursday, October 11th at 11:00 AM – Main Squeeze in Sterling

Slideshow Presentations Part 1, 2 & 3 are at KSB Town Square Room 202

(park in the upper parking garage)

My Invisible Illness Part 1

Monday, October 15th  6:00-7:30 PM

My Invisible Illness Part 2

Tuesday, October 23rd  4:00-5:00  PM 

repeated from 6:00-7:00 PM

My Invisible Illness Part 3

Tuesday, November 27th 4:00-5:00  PM 

repeated from 6:00-7:00 PM

Part 1 – A slideshow explaining my history with an invisible illness, what I’ve learned and how it has driven me to help others.

Part 2 – I will be presenting my regimen for a better quality of life and how you can incorporate these ideas, tailoring them to your liking.

Part 3 – The last presentation is essential in achieving support from the ones we love, our caregivers, family and friends. I will focus on what it is like to have an invisible illness. For this presentation I encourage you to invite friends and family. It wasn’t until I opened up about my illness that others truly started to understand.


Upcoming this Month:

“Free” Tai Chi & Tea   Tuesday, September 11th @ 4:00

Please sign up if you haven’t done so already. 


Thursday Tea Time   September 13th @ 11:00

no sign up  https://msg411.net/teatime/

Community Wellness Meeting – Guest Speaker – Tuesday, September 25th

no sign up https://msg411.net/meetings-2/

Invisible disorders and sensitivities go hand in hand. Smell, light, touch, weather, sound, temperature, allergens, food are common triggers into a difficult day. What may be recognized as simple, our senses register tenfold. A cool breeze translates into iceberg chills. A bird’s chirp megaphones like a jackhammer.

At the beginning of summer, I bought seeds of the sensitive plant. I was excited to see them sprout, watch them grow and develop. Their stems rose from the pots as stable stalks. The leaves branched out beautifully in a fern pattern. In the evening, I’d find them wilted, sure they were dead, but by morning they rose again. Later, I discovered they sleep in the night when the sun drops. I thought for sure I’d lose them during the harsh storms. But they simply drew down their foliage in protection. To my surprise, it bloomed a unique, pink floral puffball. Delicately, it smiled at me.

A plant that is seemly named to be feeble was in fact durable and fairly versatile. My research told me, the sensitive plant withdraws to repel predators and protect itself. It has the ability to chemically change in order to adapt to unfavorable circumstances. It has been used medicinally.  Though sometimes considered invasive in the wild, it has a mutually beneficial relationship or symbiosis with other plants. Parts of the sensitive plant can be used as cattle fodder or induce poisoning. There is such a variance in one plant. It reminded me of the variations of invisible illness, both diversity and commonalities among us. Like the sensitive plant we appear weak, yet contrarily are warriors in disguise.

Be a Mimosa pudica. ~ “Know your inner strength, trust your keen instinct, and bloom for the world to see.”

written by Amy Shoemaker

Scientific name, Mimosa pudica, is also known as the TickleMe Plant, the Humble plant, Shame plant, Shy plant, Sleeping grass, Prayer Plant, and Touch-me-not. This weedy plant is native to Central and South America.

Sensitive (adj.) quick to detect or respond to slight changes; receptive to sense impressions.   

Mimosa pudica ~ official plant of MSG411


“Don’t give up!  I believe in you all!” – Horton, Dr. Suess



Take advantage of the Free upcoming event “Tai Chi”.  

Keep reading to learn more.

Thought of the month:

“Everything requires maintenance,” was recently said to me by a good friend. At first thought, cars come to mind. You can’t expect the vehicle you drive to run forever if you don’t take care of it. Next to that, as a homeowner, I’d say maintenance is basically never ending. And as an aging woman, a regime of care seems to become a requisite after forty to avoid the drooping and freckling of time.

Life requires more maintenance that we don’t often think about. Sustaining relationships is key. The connection we have with people ebbs and flows. There is great value to staying in contact and fine tuning communication skills. Spirituality and personal skills require maintenance as well. Some things are like riding a bike, but if you haven’t done them in a while, look out. Without upkeep or discipline through practice, the lapse can feel a little wobbly when you get back on the seat.

When it comes to maintaining health, I find it to require the most attention of all. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Gosh, isn’t it inevitable, we’re gonna lose it? Aging is by all rights unstoppable. Anyone that tells me I look good for my age, I quickly reply, “It’s a lot of work.” Laughing I add, “…and I have good genes.” But what most people don’t realize is that I suffer from an invisible disorder. My mother tells me I work too hard at staying healthy. However, if I didn’t, I would most definitely be in more pain, suffer more lost days and spiral downward quicker. From experience I know, if I don’t routinely check the oil pump, my motor burns up. With an illness, the biggest struggle is to keep going. Yet, in the absence of effort, there can not be perseverance. By managing health, there is hope of a better quality of life, and an ability to enjoy it to the fullest. ~ written by Amy Shoemaker

Tai Chi & Tea with Trirong Khuntangta

Dates: Tuesdays ~ August 14, September 11, October 9, November 13

Time: 4:00 PM

Where: Gingko Tree/Traditional Wellness Center

216 W. 1st St., Dixon IL

Free: to anyone suffering an illness, plus one friend (friend must sign-up also)

Free: one paid beverage per person from Gingko Tree Tea Shop compliments of your hostess, Amy Shoemaker.

*more information about Tai Chi below.

Sign-up is Required.     https://msg411.net/events/

Thursday Tea Time this month is

at Aurelio’s in Sterling on August 9, 11:00 am

Next Community Wellness Meeting: 

Tuesday, August 28 ~ 4:00 PM at KSB Town Square, Room 202

(I will be giving a small talk about Invisible Illness, part 1 of 2.)

*What is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi is a very low-demand form of exercise that works to incorporate the mind as well as the body. This Eastern tradition has risen in popularity for Western seniors because it focuses on balance. Building the sense of balance and the muscles involved is a good preventative measure against falls.

Some of the benefits claimed for tai chi include:

•better mood, with lower levels of depression, stress, and anxiety.

•greater aerobic capacity and muscle strength.

•more energy and stamina.

•enhanced flexibility, balance, and agility.

•lower blood pressure and improved heart health.

•reduced Inflammation.

•fewer falls.

Tai Chi recommended to Fight Fibromyalgia

The health benefits of Tai Chi – Harvard Health

Tai Chi ~ WebMD

JULY 2018

Happy July!   🇺🇸

I hope everyone had a nice holiday.

… Join us for TEA TIME

July 12 at 11:00 a.m.

Airplay in Sterling

Next MSG411 Community Wellness Meeting: 

Tuesday, July 24th at 4:00 PM

in KSB Town Square, Room 202

…and NEW Free MSG411 events

Tai Chi & Tea



Dates: Tuesdays ~ August 14, September 11, October 9, November 13

Time: 4:00 PM

Where: Gingko Tree/Traditional Wellness Center

216 W. 1st St., Dixon IL

Free: to anyone suffering an illness, plus one friend (friend must sign-up also)

Free: one paid beverage per person from Gingko Tree Tea Shop compliments of your hostess, Amy Shoemaker.

Coming Soon ~ Community Wellness Meetings:

•August 28 ~ My Invisible Illness Part 1

•September 25 ~ Presentation by Health and Nutrition Plus

•October 23 ~ My Invisible Illness Part 2

…also look for Paint the Town in Morrison, Festival of Trees and more Rock Painting. Anyone know of a parade we can walk our banner?

JUNE 2018

Canceled – June 26th meeting at KSB


  • In order to successfully hold an event, eight sign-ups will be required. Because of the nature of our illnesses, often only half of us are well enough to attend. So by requiring eight people to sign up assures the effort and money spent by the sponsor and presenter worthwhile.
  • Invite a friend. After all, friends are our support system.
  • A reminder will be sent the day before an event. Please text me, Amy Shoemaker, if you are unable to attend by the morning of the event day.  Thank you.

AROMATHERAPY – The event on June 14th only has one person signed up.

Tai Chi

Trirong is on vacation. Stay tuned. More dates to be announced.


We have Community Meetings, Tea Time and Events. But lets face facts. Some of us have difficulty leaving the house at times. Request Form

Why a home visit?

You’ve missed a meeting.

You’re struggling.

You need support from people that understand.

Last thought for June….

If you are a member of The MSG Lounge on Facebook, we’d love to hear from you. Post a Plot Twist for us if you have one. (Posting to the page has to be approved so please be patient.)

Plot Twist:  The other day, I was going to save a spoon and not wash my hair, then a bird pooped on my ponytail during my morning walk. Gotta love life!! Never boring.

Take good care of yourselves.

MAY 2018

Join MSG411 for TEA TIME

Thursday, May 10  ~ Gingko Tree, Dixon at 11:00 am



Tai Chi with Trirong Khuntangta*

Tuesday, May 22  4:00 -5:00 at the Traditional Wellness Center Fitness

After Tai Chi,feel free to join us for our regular meeting and refreshment. Ending at approximately 6:00 pm

*This event is being provided free to people suffering from a chronic illness. Registration required. Limited space.


16298861_1296192747104045_8424231949256342016_nApril was a great month.  MSG411 had two successful events. Tea Time was held at Main Squeeze Cafe.  Owner Veronica Machnicki took an hour out of her time to share with us her passion for healthy eating. She taught us the benefits of juicing; why we should chew our juice and drink our food; mindful eating; and a wealth of wonderful information. We also got to sample a few of the amazing drinks make with local, farm fresh ingredients also used in the wonderful soups and on their food menu. Main Squeeze is the fast food of healthy eating  and a pillar of wellness for our community.

woman-artistAt our Wellness Meeting this month, we enjoyed Art Therapy taught by artist Linda VonHolten.  A great time had by all; visiting, munching on snacks and creating our own personalized sunflower paintings. Each canvas beautifully held the uniqueness of each individual painter. The background music Linda provided was also very relaxing. msg411.net/photos

Art increases brain connectivity or neuroplasticity, which is your brain’s ability to grow connections and change throughout your lifetime. When engaging in a new activity, your brain creates new connections between brain cells. Speaking as a person with plenty of brain fog, art is definitely beneficial.

“The arts are a critical component of healthcare. Expressive art is a tool to explore, develop and practice creativity as a means to wellness.” ~ Wellarts Association“

Along with healthy changes to our diet, sleep, and exercise regimes and with attentiveness on empathy, intentionally putting time aside to do something creative (read, write, paint, knit, sing, photography, dance) can help lower stress levels, give our nervous system a rest, and helps to promote self-care habits. By using a variety of creative processes, health difficulties can be better expressed, understood, accepted, and transformed.   https://www.alongsideyou.ca/chronic-pain-mindfulness-based-art-activities/

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life,” Pablo Picasso

Click here for new information on sponsorship, hostessing and donations.

May addendum & rolling into June.

A new event has popped up on our calendar along with our 11:00 am –  June 14, Tea Time at Flip Side. Elizabeth Tribally will be giving an Aromatherapy Presentation with doTerra Essential Oils starting at 12:00.  Along with the presentation will be a Free Take-Home Project.  Sign up to join us on the main page of (click Here) MSG411.net. Even if you are unsure, please sign up so we know how many aroma take-home projects to prepare.

So far, only a half dozen people signed up for TAI CHI.  There’s plenty of room. Not sure if you can make it? But still interested, type “maybe” in the comment section. Also there is a Tea Instruction at Traditional Wellness that evening at 6:30 pm. (click Here) Free Tea Appreciation Class  Call 677-9144 or come in the make your reservation.

(click Here) Yoga on the Riverfront is starting!!!!

**In case you missed it, and want to know why I’mposting Zebras.**

(click Here) What’s up with the Zebra?

📚 📖 📔 📚

(click Here) There are tons of new books on our Wish List



When something goes wrong in your life, just yell “Plot Twist!” and move on.

If anyone tried to join us at Gingko Tree today…They were closed!! AND I was really late. Very sorry. My day was a plot twist. My month, year and life for that matter. PLOT TWIST is my middle name. Moving on … not always the easiest. Spoonies Warriors understand this perhaps more than anyone. We do what we can and move on.


APRIL 2018


The Moon, Easter, and April are here – No Joke! – It’s all happening at once.

Easter and April Fool’s day land on the same day this year. But there is also another event I discovered last year in April. It’s the Pink Moon Ritual of Letting Go. As Spoonies, we hold on to a lot of emotion due to our illnesses…guilt, shame, anger, embarrassment to name a few. So when I heard about the pink moon, I was in. Why not? Who wouldn’t want to let go of garbage clogging up our body, mind and spirit?

This year, the pink moon falls on March 31 (nearly April). Though, ‘this’ Spoonie needs her sleep and will not be up until midnight.

Make of it what you will. If you are interested read more about it Pink Moon Ritual of Letting Go or google it for yourself.

In the meantime, don’t forget all the wonderful things we have planned for you in April.


Juicing at Main Squeeze on April 12 at 10:00 am

Art Therapy with LVH on April 24 at 4:00 pm DON’T FORGET TO SIGN-UP!!

Happy Spring Everyone! 🌷🌺🌸

MARCH 2018

🍀Fellow Spoonies🍀

Spring is just around the corner! There are tons of wonderful things going on this year. Our calendar is booked. I hope everyone has an opportunity to join in on these FREE events offered by MSG411… Art Therapy with LVH, Tai Chi with Traditional Wellness instructor Trirong & several other great physical and mental health presentations. (more to come listed under TBA)


Don’t forget Tea Time! – March 8 Aurelio’s Bake Shop in Sterling at 11:00

During March, MSG411 is inviting each of you to take an Affirmation Challenge. Change your life in a positive way. Want to join in? The affirmation topics are listed as follows. Reply in the comment bar below which 4 areas of your life you would like to improve. Each week, MSG411 will send you a simple four step task and the affirmation that goes along with it. 4 affirmations in 4 weeks. The challenge is individually yours and doesn’t have to be shared. But feel free to give us your input at the March 27th meeting.

What is an Affirmation? Short, powerful statements that help reconstruct positive thoughts.

• New Beginning

• Self Love

• Ability

• Setbacks

• Gratitude

• Self-Worth

• Opportunity

• Physical Looks

• Relationships

• Love

• Career

• Wealth

• Health

• Self-Image


Motivation: It’s as simple as you make it.

I can do it

“Motivation is what gets you started.

Habit is what keeps you going.” — Jim Ryan

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last.

Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

— Zig Ziglar

Happy February❤️Spoonies

Check it out:

https://msg411.net/community/   In the community this February.

https://msg411.net/get-the-scoop/    If you missed January’s meeting.

It’s motivation month!! For me, February is one of the toughest months of the year. Winter drags on. Aside whatever New Years resolution goals set for myself, what do I do to stay motivated in my daily life? Routine is my number one go to. Whether I lost my routine through the holidays or have none at all, February is time to get one started.

We often associate the word habit with ‘bad’. Turn around how you look at it. Don’t beat yourself up about what you’re not doing. Take small steps. Try something that only takes a few minutes, creating a habit that is healthy and productive. Grow from there.

Routine is crucial for me to keep good habits. It’s also personal. What I do won’t and shouldn’t be what you do. I set my routine up to fit me like the shoe on my foot. You should wear your own sneakers.

My morning exercise routine is the most important habit I have. Without it, I lose my motivation. My body needs the extra serotonin boost to kick start and carry me through. If I’m sluggish and procrastinate, I don’t allow myself to eat breakfast. I don’t mean skip breakfast. No, I love food. Food is my motivation to exercise. The reward for staying on track.

Another type of motivational tool I use to stay with the program is the timer on my phone. I have a dozen timers that go off in the daytime. These are for a multitude of different things from taking vitamins to meditating. At 10:30 and 4:00 I take a 5 minutes meditation break, resetting me into the next part of my day. I welcome the chimes as they help me focus. But do I always use them consistently? No. Go and exercise. Stop and meditate. Snooze – and regroup. Or if it’s a tough day… start again tomorrow. The point is to have reminders there to gently encourage you to keep trying.

One more thing, Mix It Up! Allow yourself to be flexible within your routine. I definitely don’t exercise the same way all year round. That would be boring. If the weather is good, I’m walking outside. For the long months of winter, I dance and aerobe-size. The music I listen to changes depending on my mood. Length of time and amount of energy exerted is also a factor as to how many spoons I give toward each workout. If I’m in a lot of pain, I have to be kind to myself and move slowly.

Find a motivational quote and share with us.

Happy Motivating! ❤️

PS Don’t Forget TEA TIME at Mom’s Diner

Thursday, February 8th at 11:00 am

PPS Thank you Brooke for the “Motivation” month suggestion. See you all at the meeting February 27th in Dixon  & Thank you Leslie for the new links I added to the Migraine page.

The quotes are coming in…..

“Never, never give up!” -Winston Churchill  (from Nancy O.)

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh   (from Amy S.) I recently returned to the long-term goal of finishing my novel. Four years in the running! I really want to see it completed in 2018. With a chronic illness I often loss my steam. Especially with big task that seem overwhelming. Vincent’s quote is helping me stay motivated and remember each page I complete is a turn toward the end.



Welcome to 2018 Spoonies!

2017 was filled with fun. msg411.net/photos Let’s find more great things to do together!

As the new year rings in, we all wonder what is to come. Take a fresh start, with a positive outlook. Each day is a new beginning. Consider a resolution that doesn’t involve dieting, exercise or a list of want-to-do’s. Make it as simple as “Surrounding yourself with people who get it.”

MSG411 has a new calendar. A different time at KSB, and we are no longer at Sterling Public Library. Instead, we are rotating locals for Tea Time once a month. Check it out! MEETINGS

We don’t have any events scheduled at this time but there is a Pain Management Program in the Community coming up in January. COMMUNITY  If anyone else knows of anything else going on, feel free to let me know so I can post it.

Continue to Anchor yourself with love and laughter. msg411.net/anchor

Count your blessings instead of sheep. May you have more spoons than you know what to do with.

Your Spoonie Sister

Amy Shoemaker

January 23, 2018 meeting notes from Amy Shoemaker

Below is a summary of an article for the topic of the night, Winter Wellness & Winter Blues. I brought with me my two light boxes to show how I use them in my own home. The ‘Happy Lights’ are in my bedroom. I have one connected to a remote next to my bed. When my morning alarm goes off (without opening my eyes!!) I push the remote button to turn on the light and hit snooze on my alarm. This simulates the feeling of the sunrising in the morning. Oh so often, our winters are plagued with darkness. The next step is for me to spend at least 20-30 minutes in the room with the light, wether it’s dressing, making my bed, preparing for my day, etc. I can’t say enough good things about the sunlight bulbs. They’re a real eye opener. 😃 May the sun shine upon you every day of your life.☀️

Tip: 1) Contain the light in a small area for more benefit without using any other source of light. 2) If the light is too bright for your eyes, turn the lamp backwards facing the wall. 3) Do not use in the evening to avoid insomnia. 4) If sleep is an issue for you eliminate blue light in the evening as well.

Derived from Beating the Winter Blues by English Taylor

The “winter blues” are real. You’re not the only one experiencing a seasonal funk. The clinical term for weather woes is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. There are a variety of symptoms which can include a change in appetite, fatigue, sleeping more than normal, avoidance of social situations, an increased sensitivity to rejection, feelings of guilt or hopelessness, and others.

A lack of exposure to sunlight during the dark days of winter, is a main cause of SAD. Biochemical imbalances in the brain are brought on by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight disrupting the body’s natural circadian rhythm, our internal biological clock.

Reduced sunlight can cause serotonin levels—a feel-good brain chemical responsible for mood regulation—to drop. Sunshine naturally brings Vitamin D3, which also influences our serotonin levels.

Tips for beating the winter blues involves increasing our sunny D intake. Opening the blinds, sitting close to a window, or taking a brisk walk (be brave! fight the cold!) This is especially important when you first wake up. It regulates your biological clock so you stay on track.

Purchasing a fluorescent light box (brighter than those you’d typically find indoors)—also sometimes known as a “happy lamp”—is an alternative way to boost your mood without facing freezing temps. Sit in front of the light box at the specified distance, then going about your normal activities like eating breakfast or working on the computer.

Ingesting vitamin D3 via supplements (powders or capsules) can be another way to help your body absorb the benefits of a sunshine boost if going outside isn’t an option.

Though the winter blues can make you feel like pulling the duvet over your head or canceling plans, continuing to enjoy your everyday hobbies is vital for mood-maintenance. Despite every effort to stay tucked under the covers, keeping up with your weekly sun salutation or staying committed to plans can help you maintain a regular biorhythm. Block time on your calendar with reminders to stay on track and upbeat.

Exercise could even end up being your saving grace when experiencing SAD. Heated yoga or Pilates class may be especially helpful. The meditation and breathing components of yoga can also help promote relaxation and decrease stress.

But above all, never doubt when to reach out. Human beings are social creatures wired for connection. Maintaining relationships is a crucial component to our overall well-being. Socializing helps people feel more connected and reduces isolation. Whether you choose to confide in a therapist, trusted friend, or loved one, reaching out to someone else can give you a sense of belonging, acceptance, and compassion.

Knowing that there are other people going through what you’re experiencing helps you feel more connected.