Sick And Tired Of Consuming Your Way Through Life? I Understand

Take Action Switch

By: Stuart Miles

Received an email that got me thinking!

The people that are successful in any aspect of their life (financially secure, weight loss, gaining new skills, breaking addictions, etc.) … DO.

The people that dream of being successful …CONSUME.

I have been consuming for years!

* Let me read ONE MORE self-help book.

* If I follow THIS PARTICULAR BLOG, I’m sure to uncover the secret of success.

* She’s healthy, I’m not, SO I can’t learn a new skill.

* I wasn’t in those fancy AP classes in high school, SO I’m not smart.

* I wasn’t born with “talent”, SO that’s not possible.

* I’ve made mistakes in my past, SO I’m being punished with poor health.

The list goes on and on! Why put this out there? Because, I believe in accountability.

Throughout the years, successful individuals have waltzed in and out of my life. Success I don’t define as solely materialistic. Individuals completing marathons, running a successful business, finding a soul mate, losing 20 lbs.

Enter, Vanna.

(Awesome name change to protect her identity!)

I remember this gal playing 1/2 No Limit Holdem. She was good but wasn’t Jennifer Harman. She believed she could be a successful poker player. The belief wouldn’t have been enough. She worked daily to achieve that goal. Myself on the other had, could have been good, maybe great, but I had to read one more poker blog, one more book. I didn’t take action. I didn’t apply! I second guessed myself. I compared myself to others.

On the other hand….

VANNA may have had doubt, BUT that didn’t keep her from putting in daily work. Vanna consumed poker content, but she didn’t let that consumption of content keep her from application. She worked at it, and I NEVER want to play a hand of poker with that gal! She is now a professional poker player.

SO! I publicly state that mediocrity is a choice.

Living with a chronic illness I have EVERY RIGHT to continue to consume my way through life. I don’t have to take drastic and life changing action. Some of my doctors support mediocre and small actions. (“If you build up enough stamina you could work at a bookstore two hours a day.”) I can be praised for getting up daily and pressing on because that is the acceptable expectation based on my health circumstance.

Guess what?

That sucks! To be in the same place expecting different results in 30 days is ludicrous! I would be delusional if I didn’t believe life changing action would be difficult because of my medical situation. However, it’s not impossible to set and achieve meaningful goals while having limitations.

SUCK IT UP Marissa!

*It’s time to TAKE DAILY STEPS maintaining motivation so in 30, 60, 90 days dream’s, become effective goals!

PS: Accountability is essential to making lasting change so I will keep you posted!

Joy Can Survive And Revive

Lightbulb shinning bright surrounded by burnt out lightbulbs.

Photo by: Master

Didn’t realize how emotionally depleted I was.

Babe picked me up last night from Gram’s (Grandmother), and as we were driving away he asked….

 Did you have a good time?

I started crying!

I feel broken by this disability. It becomes a dark cloud that desires to envelop the soul.

Spending 2 days with Gram, nieces, and my sisters, I am reminded that darkness and light coexist.

If this beast of an illness stays with me the rest of my life, I have a powerful defense… JOY!

Throughout my life Gram has unintentionally (possibly intentionally) groomed me for this very moment in my life. She has reminded me that sources of POSITIVE joy can be pulled from many life experiences.

*My sister taking me to the hair salon after-hours so I can get my hair cut and colored!

*My niece laughing out loud in 5 minute increments because she is happy!

*My family holding hands in a circle several years after my grandfather’s passing thanking God for the beautiful memories we are left behind.

Guess what? This vestibular condition was present during every one of those moments! Yet, JOY was still present.

Balling up and internalizing POSITIVE moments of joy are going to be critical to combating this chronic illness longterm.

I also realized…

“I’m not who I was before!”

I am NEVER going to be who I was before.

Does that mean I am not entitled to joy?

Does that mean joy will not exist because I am living with a chronic illness?

Does that mean I can’t spread joy because I grieve?


Joy is a FEELING!

Joy can SURVIVE and REVIVE even in the midst of deep sorrow!

This “brand new kinda me” has been years in the making.

I was flipping through the channels at Gram’s and came across this song being performed by Alicia Keys!

Listen to the words.

“Brand New Me”…

Much love,

PS: “It took a long long time to get here.” Be patient with yourself! Growth and change are critical to becoming the brand new kinda you!


Who’s Hiding The Blueprint On How To Live Life After Chronic Illness Sets In?

Architect Woman With Plan

Photo by: adamr

LIVE is the key word. Who is in favor of finding a blueprint on how to exist? NOT ME. I’m not shy expressing my desire to find a blueprint on HOW TO LIVE!

If you are living with a chronic illness, and we have interacted on some level, I may have bombarded you with a loaded question:

How do I live a life like this? What’s the blueprint?

I have heard the following responses (forgive me, I’m paraphrasing) …

“There is no blueprint!”

“Just live your life and it will work out.”

“I wish I had the answer.”

According to the CDC’s chronic disease and health promotion webpage, 133 million Americans have at least one chronic illness.

I will add myself to the list. Let’s go with 134 million! I have to error on the side of ignorance because I don’t know how this data is collected.

Side note: If you can help me understand how “Disease Surveillance Systems” work, I’m all ears!

Surely someone out of 134 million people has found a way to FLOURISH and SUCCEED after moving past grief and acceptance.

I have been in this chronic illness game for 8 years. It has taken me time to move through Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ Five Stages Of Grief.

Another side note: Last year, someone I didn’t know, tongue lashed me with this beautiful phrase…” You’ve had this 7 years, and you haven’t figured it out?”

I thought I was “balancing” between depression and acceptance with more weight being placed on acceptance.

However, I had a bit of a setback. I recently had a doctors visit that exposed a wound. He expressed I am experiencing an “appropriate” emotional response to functional limitations. He proceeded to tell me that I am wearing a mask which projects everything is OK! When that mask is penetrated, it’s exposing my deep sadness. When I’m asked about how this condition affects those around me, I break down and shed ugly tears! When I was asked to talk about my limitations, the flood gates of emotions poured out! This doesn’t actually sound like acceptance, does it?

I’ve had this chronic illness for 8 years and data would show that I am chasing symptoms at this point. The doctor at this appointment eluded that chronic vestibular symptoms may be my life long fate!

I got home and paced around for a bit and then something happened! I started recapping the day, and I got ANGRY! I started air boxing and yelling my head off! I will share with you the clean version…

“Do you know what it feels like to live like this?”
“Do you know what it feels like to have people question something they can’t see?”
“Do you realize how close I came to ending this?”
“I’m going to punch this wall!”

Poor bug! Thank GOD for him. I went to punch my fist through the wall, and he grabbed me! He snapped me out of my rage with a stern, yet concerned tone: “Your going to brake your hand!”

For some perspective, I’m not an angry gal! I have a pleasant disposition. I approach everyone I meet with a general excitement. So this angry outburst is not usual for me!

A few days after this incident I started to gain some clarity! I recalled what the doctor said in our first meeting. My joy and vibrancy for life is still a real part of who I am, and chronic illness did not remove those qualities from within me. What’s hidden above that layer is deep pain and loss. Right above that layer is what I project to the world. With time, I began to see this as genuine good news. I have a desire to grow and transform regardless of deep pain and loss.

This is a situation where it’s OK to fake it until you make it! Deep down on some level is your true self. Deep down is your happiness, love, passion, and it’s “normal” that your pain and suffering are suppressing those beautiful qualities! At first I was concerned that my current display of excitement and positivity was a fake projection because on some level the sorrow and grief are still present. The doctor confirmed that is not the case, which was an enormous relief.

It’s OK to claim who you want to become despite the sorrow and grief of your chronic illness. This may allow you to spend time in the present moment reclaiming the beautiful parts of who you were while cultivating who you will become.

So, who’s hiding the blueprint? I will speak for myself…  ME!

I am looking forward to working with a chronic illness and disability therapist in hopes of rebuilding my “psychological system” so I can  redraw my life blueprint!

Much love,

P.S. Hang in! It’s one foot in front of the other. We got this.

CDC- Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
The 5 Stages of grief and loss 

Self Control Over The Control Freak

I won’t do myself or you a disservice by not keeping it real! Things are about to get personal.

As soon as the cloud began to dissipate over my vestibular heavy head, I started working toward earning my latest badge-CONTROL FREAK.

I have done my best to control EVERY ASPECT of my life pre AND post-vestibular.

Post-Vestibular, (balance disorder) if I couldn’t drive to the grocery store on my own, I would control the foods babe, and I consume.

If I couldn’t return to the job I loved, I was going to insert my opinion every chance I could get regarding the career path I felt babe should be heading down.

If I couldn’t see rapid progress in vestibular rehab therapy, I would focus on weight loss. At least I could visually see the progress.

Not to let myself off the hook, but I didn’t realize how much of a control freak I was becoming until my conversation with 12-12-12 project member Pamela.

After I got off the Skype call with Pamela something clicked. I realized I had morphed into a control freak. I am trying to control EVERY aspect of my life because I have no control over the vestibular symptoms.

Poor Babe! Because I believe I can control everything in my world, I am unleashing kryptonite on this man.

What happens if babe decides he doesn’t want to eat gluten free bread?

What happens if babe decides he wants to drop out of his Master’s program?

What happens if I gain 40 lbs?

Before this life lesson was revealed, I will tell you exactly what would have happened. I would have been disappointed in myself for what I would have seen as tragedies, and would have believed I didn’t try hard enough to prevent these tragedies.

Side Note: WOW! Tragedies? M-A-R-I-S-S-A…really?

Are you creating a world where you believe everything outside of yourself can be controlled?

While we may not be able to control all that happens to us, we can control what happens inside us. – Benjamin Franklin

Let’s talk about situations where being in complete control would be beneficial.

12-12-12 project member Pamela is living with a movement disorder called Dystonia. Her muscles are fine, BUT they are receiving confusing messages. Imagine how unpredictable her life is!

Walking confronts me with a never-ending surprise party. One minute I’m strolling prettily, nary a care. Then I remember my legs – shazam, we have movement. – Pamela via blog post: Walking

She would love to wear my control freak badge for a day and have complete dominion over her muscle response, yet that’s not possible. Just as it’s not possible for me to have complete control over every aspect of my life and those in it!

What valuable lessons are you missing because your focused on controlling vs. having self control?

Pamela doesn’t have control over her muscle response!

I don’t have control over my vestibular response!

YET, we have the ability to control our emotional responses and reactions to what is happening in our lives. That doesn’t mean attempting to control everything not associated with our medical conditions, so we create a false sense of control!

Being able to shift from controlling to self-control is going to be a learned skill. Being in a heightened state of awareness will be required to shatter this unstable foundation I have created.

I now realize that Pamela and I were destined to meet. In ONE COVERSATION, she has allowed me to realize I was rebuilding my house on a foundation made of glass.

Much love,

Livin’ On The Edge And Trying Not To Fall Off!

Imagine being trapped inside your house for two solid days!

Majority of your day is spent chillin in your bed because every move you make induces nausea, heavy head, disorientation, and down right overall sickness.

For the last two days, this has been my script playing out. This Thursday was vestibular rehabilitation therapy. During VRT, I did well and showed small signs of improvement! Whoop. However, the stimulus and physical activity left me feeling like a wet noodle.

I fell asleep last night at 9:00pm (those that know me know this is a miracle!) and didn’t wake up today until close to noon! YES, you read that right. I woke up once in the middle of the night to pee, and woke up every hour starting at 6am. I felt too exhausted to get out of bed. Fatigue is SO brutal. I assume it’s my body’s way to protect itself.

I should confess that yesterday I drank a 16oz Monster Energy Drink (shhh, don’t tell babe. He thinks that stuff is horrible for me!) hoping to feel some sort of energy. It didn’t even touch me.

I woke up today to find a note left for me from my future-in-laws! They had left to run a few errands.

Hand written note to me from in-laws

I knew that Babe was with his buddies watching football.

Good for them! It makes me happy that those I love are living their lives and enjoying what’s good and fun in the world.

I actually felt OK after waking up this afternoon. “Feeling OK” is what allows me to go for walks and venture to places like the grocery, shopping, etc.

I started pacing the house and began feeling stir crazy! I hopped into the shower hoping to distract myself, but that didn’t help. Put on my clothes, makeup, and grubbed on some cereal.

Have you ever felt yourself screaming on the inside? This trapped feeling started to overcome me. I just couldn’t take it anymore. Screw it! I was going to walk to Starbucks.

When a thought becomes fixated in my mind, you can trust that it’s going to happen.

I got bold and sent a text message to babe saying I was going to head to Starbucks. Whoop!

Text message to babe

I grabbed my pepper spray, phone, walking stick, and headed out the door. I noticed I was a bit more wobbly than usual on my walk, but I ignored it! Screw that. I was going to complete my mission.

As I was walking I felt that internal screaming dying down. I actually felt happy to be outside. Beyonce’s “Diva” was playing on loop in my head (Sorry Blake! I know you hate that song, but it’s my jam!)

I arrived at Starbucks and confidently ordered a skinny latte with a splash of sugar-free hazelnut!

I made it back home, sat at the dinning room table, and started sipping my luscious $3.55 drink! OUCH! I felt a pain toward the back of my foot. What the heck. I looked down at my cute shoe, removed it, and caught a glimpse at what was causing the pain.

Starbucks- Venturing out to grab a Skinny Latte

Since you know I am all about the life lesson’s let me share a few….

1.) Start embracing “feeling ok”! I am going to start appreciating “feeling ok,” because I am now VERY aware of how limited my world becomes when I feel terrible!

2.) When going for a lengthy walk choose common sense vs. cute! It’s ok to rock a cute outfit from the ankles up. Comfortable shoes are your friend!

Much love,

Go Ahead It’s Just Sprinkling-Breaking Beyond Life Barriers

Sitting down tying my shoes I heard Gram yell over from the next room… “Mija, it’s starting to rain.”

I quickly finished tying up my shoes and walked over to acknowledge Gram. I could sense my defenses rising and a hesitance about walking in the rain.

“Should I take a jacket? Maybe I shouldn’t go?”

Grams response… “Mija, go ahead it’s just sprinkling.”

I threw on my hat, grabbed for my walking stick, and headed out the door.

The intensity of the sprinkling started picking up after rounding the corner of the second block. I slowed down and contemplated turning back. I thought to myself…

“I don’t have an umbrella. What if the concrete gets too slippery and I fall. I should seriously turn back…”.

I quickly convinced myself to keep going (“Gram says it’s just sprinkling!”).

About a mile, into the walk the sprinkling turned to rain and it started coming down hard. I was about to get annoyed, and then something happened.

I found myself at the intersection where I normally turn around and head back home. Next thing you know I was pushing on the traffic signal button with the intention of walking across the street.

Beyond that intersection, about half a mile up is the grocery store and Target. When I first moved in with Gram I could only dream of walking to the grocery store. I envisioned walking to the store, shopping independently, purchasing a few items, and walking back home.

On a day filled with excuses and my walk threatened by weather, I realized I was MUCH CLOSER to my goal of shopping independence than ever!

I moved beyond that intersection, reached the grocery store in the pouring rain, turned around and headed home.

Walking home in the rain felt AWESOME! I didn’t have time to worry about feeling yucky because I was so pumped that I hit a significant milestone.

The WEIRD THING was, the last few blocks walking back home the rain let up, and it was back to… “It’s just sprinkling!”.

As I headed up the driveway, Gram greeted me at the door.

“I feel so guilty that I pushed you to go. I didn’t think it was going to start raining like that…”.

My response…

“Gram! I made it to the store, take my picture.”.


Had to share this photo! Gram’s first few shots using the iPhone camera. Guess you don’t need to see my head. heheh Pants, shoes and 1/2 of my shirt were soaked. Rain never felt so good!

The lesson…

Hesitation, fear, excuses, pressure, outside factors are simply distractions. When all those barriers are up, and you push beyond those distractions you began to reach the seemingly “impossible” goals.

Much love,

30 Things I Needed to Hear Before I Got Sick-Life lessons learned

Life lessons I have learned a little late. Please don’t make the same mistake!

What’s your typical weekday look like?

If you are LUCKY ENOUGH to have a job in this economy, your averaging about 7.5 hours a day at work according to the American Time Use Survey.

Some of you are clocking a commute of 100+ miles round trip daily.

So let’s break down a possible scenario:

You get up at around 6:00 AM and put some sorta breakfast together. I won’t forget to mention your much needed morning cup of coffee.

You realize it’s too late to workout, so you head for the shower. Too tired to lay your clothes out the night before, so your fumbling around looking for something presentable to piece together.

Your hair has taken a bit longer to style than usual, so you slack on your makeup routine.

You know you shouldn’t put on those new high heels, because you haven’t had time to break them in, but you ignore your moment of SANITY.

DANG! You forget to pack your lunch. Oh well, your used to scrambling, grabbing a quick bite to eat during your 45 minute lunch break.

Fumbling around looking for your keys, you catch a glimpse of your purse and realize it doesn’t match the outfit you pieced together at the last minute. You don’t have time to mess with it. Your out the door hoping you grabbed everything needed to get through ANOTHER DAY.

You start the car to find you have a quarter tank of gas left. You say to yourself…“Figures!  I can’t be late again. My boss is going to kill me. I can’t get fired.”

You see where this is heading. Since the minute, this poor gal woke up the cards were stacked against her. She failed to finish before given the chance to start.

I am comfortable saying this scenario rings true for a great majority of individuals.

EACH DAY runs into the next, and you realize you are just another HAMSTER ON THE WHEEL OF LIFE!

This was a typical day for me before I got sick.  I was getting trampled by life, and I never questioned slowing down and checking in with myself.

 SO, if I got a chance to go back in time and speak with healthy Marissa, THIS is what I would say to her…

(If you are healthy and feeling a bit out of control, THIS ONE’S FOR YOU!)

Continue reading

Guess Who I Ran Into Today? The World’s Oldest Shoe Dog!


Danny was AWESOME! I let him have the final shoe color selection.

New Shoes

Nice choice Danny!

I also appreciated THE LESSON he passed on.

You have a good attitude AND THAT will carry you through life!

Marissa and Danny at Shoe City

Thanks Danny and thank you Shoe City for letting Danny live his passion (AND for offering brand name shoes at affordable prices to the community!)

Much love,

Who Cares About Improvement When You Still Feel Like S#*%

Feeling better is the reason you would go through therapy or any health treatment, RIGHT?

Who doesn’t want to show improvement?

Maybe you can relate…

You are deep into therapy or treatment, and each visit comes with its own set of questions.

  • How are your symptoms?
  • Are you feeling better?
  • Where are you on a scale from 1-10?

I GET IT… successes AND failures must be measured.

  • Where are you at now?
  • Are you at a 6?
  • Are you able to recognize what helps reduce your symptoms?

MOST PEOPLE might think twice about spending a decent chunk of their day performing exercises that would cause them to feel worse in hopes they get somewhat better.

It’s crazy. Right? WRONG!

A lesson smacked me upside the head today!

7 years ago when the vertigo and disequilibrium set in, I could not even walk around the block. I felt so nasty I hardly ventured out of the house.

Check out this photo! I am not sure what inspired babe to take this photo of me (SO glad he did. I have something to show ya!)

Marissa in the early days of the vestibular madness  laying on couch rockin sea bands

I am rocking two sea bands and riding out the nausea and room spin.

*Sea-Bands are a bracelet that is supposed to help with nausea and motion sickness.

(I was desperate! I would have tried ANYTHING at that moment in time. I am still open to trying MOST things.)

After the walk today, I glanced down at the pedometer, and it read… 2.147 miles!

Pedometer reading 2 miles


It took me 7 YEARS to go from barely making it around the block to being able to walk 2 miles!

I can confidently say I am walking 2 more miles than many able bodied persons.

Do I feel like hell after my walk? YES

Do I struggle throughout the walk? ABSOLUTELY

Has the dizziness, disequilibrium and vertigo changed much in the last 7 years? NO

So why even try? BECAUSE… Small improvements + action= PURPOSE

I will no longer poo-poo or shy away from recognizing and acknowledging small victories (YES… improvement)!

Much love,

Awareness DNA

Clay figure holding a question sign


What makes you tick? What brings you joy? What pulls you out of a dark place? Don’t be afraid to sit with yourself and take time to understand your personal DNA. Part of my healing and acceptance of living with a chronic illness has come from bombarding myself with questions and putting in the work to reveal answers. Forcing myself to engage with my thoughts and reducing the negative internal autopilot has produced positive growth.

As I learn more about my personal DNA, I realize that I am passionate about spreading awareness. It brings me joy to receive a monthly awareness t-shirt and bracelet. These days nothing pulls me out of a dark place quicker than putting on my awareness bracelet and t-shirt. Without engaging, I would have never revealed these truths.

Don’t be afraid to get intimate with your chronic disabled self. You may find joy in dark places!

Much love,