When I was going through my divorce in 2007, my emotions had completely taken over me. And every time I allowed them to, I got increasingly disappointed in myself. I wasn’t consistently practicing things like yoga and meditation, and found myself in an endless cycle of trying to be strong and holding my ground instead of focusing on myself. It felt awful. I knew that I only had control over myself and the way I responded to others, and that I had to do something about the pattern I felt stuck in. I just wasn’t sure where to start.
A few months ago, I was introduced to pranic healing by a fellow blogger who practices and offered to do a healing session with me. Intrigued, I agreed to it without really knowing what it was. She said it required no touch or conversation, and that she will work on it at 10pm. All I needed to do was to bathe prior to the time and relax. Huh?
No touch? No conversation? How are you healing me?
I strongly believe in rituals and the power of cleansing your space in order to achieve higher vibrations. I was raised Catholic after all. As a child, the smell of burning incense in church was always so calming and soothing for me. The same goes for burning sage, which is something Native American have been doing for centuries.
If you’re new to burning leaves for peace of mind, here are four benefits of burning sage.
Who knew that my naturopath’s advice about incorporating collagen into my diet would become the latest wellness craze.
I’ve been wanting to write a more comprehensive post about my temporomandibular joint dysfunction issue aka TMJD, but never really knew where to begin. I still have so many unanswered questions myself and am currently in the process of treatment. But I know how scary it can be and how little information there is out there. This post is for those who are going through this battle. If you googled this disorder and found your way here, I want you to know – You are not alone. Your symptoms are real. And yes, your jaw can cause a lot of strange problems. To get right to it, I’m going to just break down what I went through and what I’ve done to get myself to a better place.
I’m not 100% sure how I developed TMJ disorder. I’m attributing it to a bad fall that I had when I was kid and years of stress that turned into Bruxism, which led to a serious case TMJD. After a difficult time in my life, I got my first “flare up” in 2005. It started with severe neck pain literally over night, roaring tinnitus with pulsating beats, vision issues that included visual snow, lack of 3-dimensional perception, light sensitivity, jaw pain, fatigue, eye and sinus pain, lethargy and a nice case of health anxiety. I had no idea what was going on. I blamed the botox I recently received to control my eye twitching, which I later learned was my first TMJD symptom.
Not being entirely convinced that it was a botox issue, I thought it may be my wisdom teeth so I had them removed. When that didn’t work, I was convinced I had a brain tumor. Yep. A tumor. Embarked on that journey but of course the MRI came back normal. With no answers, I thought I had some kind of neurological issue. I checked out fine. I decided to go down the holistic route. I did massage, acupuncture and even went to a spiritual guru who told me that I had a sensitive Incan blood line so he proceeded to ring bells over my head. Um, ya, that didn’t work either. Then I thought it may be an ear problem so I went to the top ENT in LA. She told me that I likely have TMJD. Really? My jaw? Sigh. I did some research and found a very reputable neuromuscular dentist in my area, and (yes!) I started to get better within 6 months or so. I stopped wearing my orthotic and lived my life. Awesome, right? Nope. As the years went by, my body started adapting to my moving jaw position until the day it just didn’t anymore, which was in January of 2014.
Up until that point, I had been dealing with random muscle pain. Nothing to get alarmed about, I thought. We all get them, right?
It was March 2014. I was lying in bed in pain, feeling lethargic and scared when I stumbled upon Lissa Rankin’s Ted Talk – The Shocking Truth About Your Health. I knew my issues stemmed from an untreated TMJ disorder, but I had no idea it would change my life in this way. I had been through this before, but it was no where near as severe. I had no idea that this disorder could affect the neurological functions of the body. I didn’t know that chronic pain could cause the body to go into flight or fight. My cranial bones had shifted causing vision problems and stabbing pain. I developed every symptom this disorder could dish out, and I felt completely helpless. I had a full-time job, a son to raise and had just embarked on a whole new level in my relationship. No one knew how to help me or even understood how debilitating this was. To many, TMJ is more than just a sore jaw or clicking. It can be a full body, central nervous system standoff. After Lissa’s talk, I realized that I could keep curing symptoms or I can get to the root of my issue. In my case, it was chronic stress. Growing up, stress was normal. And to some extent, it is. But when it becomes your coping mechanism because of worries and fears, there’s a problem.
Seems like lots of dust has collected over here since my last blog post in February. Turned out, my ghost of TMJD past crept on me again causing me a few months of agony, which I’m still dealing with day to day. However, I can say I’m better than before as I was not even able to sit and write at the computer.
What is TMJD you ask? It is a disorder of the Temporomandibular joint. Yep, that tiny little joint that helps open and close your jaw for talking and chewing. If thrown out of whack (whether it’s muscular or a disc problem) it can cause just about every single ridiculous symptom you can think of. This disorder is also clever at disguises, as it does not always make its debut appearance at the jaw joint. Mine came in the form of what I thought was a heart attack, which actually turned out to be referred pain in my sternum from a pulled pectoral that came from my back, which was reacting to my neck being misaligned because of my jaw. Now why on earth would that happen? I’ve had a faulty jaw pretty much all of my life after a terrible fall as a child. My jaw never really found its secure place so I would grind away at night. As an adult I would grind my teeth under stressful circumstances. And like many women my age, who are trying to balance it all without burdening anyone (Ya, I’m over that), I carried the stress with me and nestled it in my jaw and muscles. I’m sure the long hours in front of the computer 7 days a week (while adjusting to single motherhood) played a huge role in all of this too. It erupted. The universe gave me a clear warning through a four letter acronym and a string of horrific symptoms (vertigo, tinnitus, seriously scary visual disturbances, excrutiating pain and adrenal fatigue) to start taking care of myself. But what does “taking care of oneself” really mean? Easier said than done because we’re creatures of habit, and finding a starting point can be very challenging. But I was given no choice and started with the help of an amazing functional medicine doctor, an intuitive massage therapist and the support of amazing women who have left me in awe with their courage and strength. I’m also grateful to have my mom to talk (vent) to and a boyfriend who has blown me away by simply being nurturing and present with me every step of the way.
I was diagnosed with TMJD in 2006 after a very difficult time, and eventually healed after treating the symptoms. Why did it come back? Because like I said, I treated the symptoms … and not the root cause. This time around, while settling down my symptoms with massage and splint therapy, I’m treating the root cause. And without getting into long details, the bottom line is that my mind, body and spirit were not one. They were running in three directions, which is why I actually never felt any physical pain until it was out of control. Connecting spiritually, eating the right foods to nourish and heal, exercising, feeding my soul with creativity, getting closer to the people I love, shedding what doesn’t suit me anymore and being in touch with myself at all times is the new direction. In doing that, the symptoms are less daunting little by little. I’ve adapted an entirely new daily routine, which includes prayer, meditation, yoga … leafy green drinks, gluten free meals … and a list of wonderful things that I plan to share more of on this blog. The Art Muse will now be about the art of living. Sure, I will still throw in a few art shows and how-tos but the perspective is entirely different. As I still slowly pull the shades, I feel that this disorder came back as my personal guru to take me down a new path. When you can’t move and your senses are compromised, the way you see the world completely changes.
There’s so much to share, I’m excited to start writing again. Thanks so much for your stopping by the blog. It has certainly been a while and it feels great to be back. Hope to see you along with me on this journey!
This post is in collaboration with Dove and Latina Bloggers Connect. Everything expressed is all me.
I work long hours. Sometimes it can be really stressful and the only thing that soothes me a cup of tea and a bubble bath. It forces me to sit, relax and reflect on all of the blessings that come from all of my hard work.
At night, after taking a long (loooong) bath, my beau and I sit down together and drink tea. It’s one of the many rituals we share as a couple that I love. Dove sent me this adorable teapot and delicious tea along with their new Clear Tone Anti-Perspirant, which is perfect for my night time bath and tea routine. It’s a very coveted product that seems to sell out quickly. It’s designed to reduce red and dark marks and even out skin tone caused by shaving irritation. I go to bed relaxed, comfortable and smelling fresh.
I was also selected to be one of the twenty #LatinaBloggers for their #MujerDove campaign, which includes participating in tomorrow’s Twitter Party along with the other 19 bloggers chosen, Vive Mejor and fashion and beauty expert Kika Rocha. I’ll be doing double duty at my Twitter account @theArtMuse and @LBConnect. Join me for an evening of beauty tips and more!