chronic illnessholidays

Finding Peace At Christmas

Today’s post is the last guest post in the Surviving the Holidays with Chronic Illness series and it couldn’t come at a better time! So often we can get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season that we forget to take the time to sit quietly and reflect on the true meaning of the season. Finding peace at Christmas and taking refuge in our Savior knowing the HOPE and PROMISE that was given to us to many years ago. Today’s post is written by Claudia from Until I Rest In Him so be sure to visit her blog! P.S. I am working on recovering from our trip to Disney and cannot wait to share our experience and pictures with you guys!

Finding Peace At Christmas

Almost within a week of having our Christmas tree up, something I could not quite put my finger on was calling to me. Every time I would look at the tree, something just kept calling to a part of me that I felt so detached from yet still something SO familiar.

As the days went on, and that “something” continued to call to me, I began to get creative visions. I would have visions of this beautiful tree that had a “woodsy” feel to it but yet still elegant. A tree that had earth tone hydrangeas throughout its branches and somehow had a vintage feel to it a tree I could keep up ALL year round that I could decorate to reflect each individual season.

I kept the vision to myself for quite some time as I allowed the feelings of confusion to stir. I slowly began to get clarity on what it was I was feeling more and more each day. Something inside me felt as if it were shifting. It felt as if there was a deeper part of me that was trying to communicate with me but somehow there was still this disconnect…and the more I felt it, the more I yearned to connect to…”it”.

I began to pray for clarity and ask God why this felt like more than just an idea I had to keep some tree up all year round. Why did this idea speak to me in a way nothing had in longer than I could remember? My mind was racing with what this was all about and how I would make this happen among the countless other thoughts whirling around my head…and then…a whisper…not in my ear…in my body…my whole body. It was an invitation to be still. Be still…and just allow the thoughts to whirl around…and see what happens.

I tried over and over and over again to….be still. I couldn’t do it. So, I continued to research on the computer all the elements I would need to make this “seasonal tree” trying desperately to piece together all the fragments of thoughts, ideas and feelings that would bring some wholeness to this…”thing” that was beckoning to me.

As I continued to ask for God’s help still not yet successful at being still, the pieces began to come together. Next thing I knew, I was finding discount stores online that carried the elements that once again spoke to me and felt as if they were each a missing puzzle piece in this creative endeavor…whatever it was to come to be in the end. From there I went on a website designed for independent artists to showcase and sell their work, found a bunch of very talented artists who made homemade gift tags that were just the right size and style, and went to town! I was thrilled to have also found a gorgeous handmade burlap tree skirt to match the burlap ribbon I used on the tree (For a list of the artists I purchased the tags from, as well as the artist I purchased the handmade burlap tree skirt from, scroll to the bottom of the blog post). I felt so blessed that God had given me the idea that if I decorated the tree with artistic gift tags, I could do the entire tree for EVERY season and EVERY holiday within my budget. Awesome! I had a BLAST picking these out. The tree was still decorated for Christmas and the research was just getting started but the creative juices were flowing!

Soon, Christmas had come to pass and the tree stood there completely stripped of all decorations and the only thing I had expressed to my husband was that I wanted him to please leave the tree up because I had an “idea” as I called it at the time. Now, to my husband this was music to his ears because at that point, he didn’t care what the idea was. All he knew was that he didn’t have to take the tree down and that alone was a wonderful idea to him! 🙂 

Day after day, my husband would see these small packages arrive in the mail from various etsy shops and discount floral stores online and my eyes would light up like a little kid…on Christmas morning. It wouldn’t matter what kind of day I had. When those packages would arrive, “it” lit up…that “thing” inside me came alive.

My husband had no idea what any of this was at this point. All he knew was that it all had to do with this idea I had to keep the tree up year round. Since I just kept the vision at bay with “you’ll see” as my standard response to any questions he had, he just let it go and said “ok, whatever makes you happy” Happy…hmmm. Well, it was more like…alive. I felt…alive. For that brief moment I held the packages in my hand each day they would arrive, and the vision began to take shape….something in me that had laid dormant day after day – would come to life. It didn’t matter that it was only for a short time. I still cherished what it felt like to feel something other than weary.

With each passing day, the racing, whirling thoughts began to settle down and were replaced with a peace…a silence from within where I began to feel what would be normal to describe as “lost” in putting this seasonal tree together piece by piece. What I find so ironic about that phrase is that this project allowed me to silence my mind. It allowed me to put the whirling thoughts to rest…it allowed me to find stillness…I FOUND STILLNESS….I FOUND SILENCE….only when I listened to the calling from within and allowed myself to get LOST in following the whispers did I FIND….MY SPIRIT.

The self-defeating thought I chose to believe was…

“A tree that you would leave up ALL year round…what?! That’s such a stupid idea. Only you would think of something so ridiculous like that. Besides, nobody’s going to get it. How are you going to explain yourself when people walk in your home and they see a tree up? Ridiculous. Besides do you have any idea how expensive something like that would be? Forget it already.”

If I were to allow myself to receive the gift of God’s grace and place all my faith in the Word, then in God’s eyes, the truth is…

John 10:27 (ESV)
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Today I recognized Jesus…

Ok, not to sound like a broken record here but let’s look at this from another perspective. I had to LOSE myself in order to FIND my SPIRIT, right? Well, what’s even more intriguing to me is that I did it while putting together my first ever seasonal tree for…
Valentine’s Day

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
– Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

My spirit chooses to trust it’s intuitive nature and interpret that as yet another sign from God that this journey for me personally, at this time, is not about trying to be like everybody else and beating myself up day after day because I can’t seem to ‘join the crowd’. No, it appears to me that this journey is at this time, about learning to LOVE MYSELF THROUGH MY FULL ACCEPTANCE OF WHO I AM IN CHRIST.

In otherwise, it’s not my job or my calling to ‘fit in’ right now. It’s my job to…

‘make peace with the silence.’ MY silence.

It is MY personal belief that then and only then, can I begin to heal…REALLY heal. So, for me, putting those hearts up on the tree one by one, started off as just decorating the tree around a theme. Now that it’s decorated and I’m able to step back and take it in day after day, I see the irony of it all.

I cannot sit here and FULLY embrace that I am a child of God in one breath if in the other breath, I’m going to turn around and continue allowing this self-talk to weaken my spirit.

I MUST continue to pray EVERY DAY that God keeps me focused on the very thing that is giving me life…MY SPIRIT.

What’s another way to perceive our spirit?

So, for me, it appears this might be the toughest part of my journey now…making a decision that may take me some time to surrender to. Will I continue to allow the voice of the trauma to define who I am…or will I accept and EMBRACE who I AM and ALWAYS have been in Christ…and listen to the voice of my spirit?

“I will no longer wound myself with the thoughts and questions that have surrounded me like thorns: that is a penance You do not ask of me.”
Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas

So, why did I not post this on Valentine’s Day?

Well, having gotten in the habit now of paying a BIT more attention to my spirit, I felt this post wasn’t quite ready. However, what strikes me about that is that Valentine’s Day itself is all about focusing on showing those around us just how much we love THEM…and that’s what it should be…on Valentine’s Day and EVERY day. I get that. I really do….but I have another theory as to why God didn’t settle my spirit in regards to posting this until AFTER Valentine’s Day.

As many of you know, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can often rob us of feeling ANY LOVE for OURSELVES. Now, I know that sounds like a very selfish statement. I get it….but it’s not. Why? Well, because it is my personal belief that THAT is what MY journey is all about AT THIS TIME. Discovering who I am in GOD…REALLY embracing his unconditional LOVE for ME and learning to RELEASE all other thoughts that I am less than worthy of His love.

Closing prayer to Jesus:

Dear Jesus,
Wow. Between the creation of the tree which included hours of searching online for just the right decorations, creating and recreating the tree over and over again until it FELT in alignment with my spirit, the confidence I had to allow you to build within me to SHARE this endeavor, the photography and countless pictures I took before finding just the right ones to post, etc…(deep sigh)…AND the hours it took to not only write this post but again, tweak it where it felt it was in alignment with my spirit’s message….well, it’s safe to say this tree…this post…is ALL a TRUE reflection of MY spirit…of YOU living within ME.

I now call it….my Spirit Tree.

So, for that reason alone,
the tree is perfect…just the way it is…until St Patrick’s Day 🙂

“Make peace with silence, and remind yourself that it is in this space that you’ll come to remember your spirit. When you’re able to transcend an aversion to silence, you’ll also transcend many other miseries. And it is in this silence that the remembrance of God will be activated.” 
― Wayne W. Dyer

Personal Reflection

Have you ever had a moment where you felt connected with your spirit through a creative endeavor of any kind? I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments below!


Claudia De Mauro is a 42 year old woman with Spina Bifida/Chiari/Hydrocephalus/Tethered Cord Syndrome/Complex PTSD/Gastroparesis and struggles with extreme isolation due to the PTSD as well as the deep grief of being childless not by choice. Claudia is the author and creator of Until I Rest In Him (you can also find her on Twitter). The mission of “Until I Rest In Him” is to be the stepping stone on a path that leads another to trust in and rest in Jesus. 


chronic illnessholidays

Keeping a Holiday Budget (And Your Spoons)!

Our second guest of the week is TiaMarie and she will be sharing her wisdom on creating and keeping a holiday budget with chronic illness and saving your spoons in the process! 

Christmas Holiday Tips

The holidays can be stressful for anyone on a budget. For those of us who also need to manage our energy levels, the idea of holiday shopping is daunting. Huge crowds can be nearly as overwhelming as the hefty price tag on many of this season’s must-have toys.

In my battle with RA, I’ve found that being proactive instead of reactive can make all the difference. So I’ve gathered together some tips to share with you to make this holiday shopping season as manageable as possible. I hope they help!

Set a budget. Stick to it.

Before you even start shopping, take a few moments to decide how much you can really afford to spend. Be realistic. If this is a tough year for you, maybe sending cards instead of gifts to extended family is the way to go. It really is the thought that matters and many of your family and friends will understand if you can’t afford to buy a gift for everyone.

Make a list. Check it twice.

Once you have a solid budget, check out the people on your list. I like to note a few ideas next to each person’s name. If I have ideas of what to look for, it makes for less wandering around the stores.

Shop online. Scope out deals.

Before hitting the stores, check to see if any items can be ordered online for a cheaper price. Many stores even offer discounts on shipping this time of year which saves the shopper a lot of energy. And with sites like Etsy and Storenvy, you can find some unique gifts for those hard-to-shop-for folks on your list.

Plan ahead. Be prepared.

For any shopping that must be done in person, make a plan. Rest up for a day or two before. Plan your shopping for a day with no other obligations so you can take your time and rest afterwards. Rushing and pushing yourself only leads to more pain. Remember your list so you’re not wandering around the store using up spoons needlessly.

Be kind to yourself.

Many of us forget to take care of ourselves during this busy time of year. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and the next thing you know, you’re flat on your back in the middle of a flare. Spread out your shopping instead of trying to cram it all into one outing. Take advantage of mobility aids and help offered by loved ones.

Most of all, remember the reason for the season. Focus your energy on spending time with people you love. For spoonies and those who love us, this can be the best gift of all. Last year my fiance and I mailed out Christmas cards to everyone on our list and had a scaled back celebration with a few close friends. By cutting out a lot of shopping, travel, and long days, I was able to enjoy the holiday instead of being laid up in pain.

I hope these tips help you enjoy this time of year with minimal impact on your body. From my home to yours, Happy Holidays!

TiaMaria is the founder of Spoons 4 Spoonies and can be found writing about her life with chronic illness at and tweeting at

chronic illnessholidays

Surviving The Holidays With Chronic Illness

Our first guest poster this week is Ali and she is going to share tips on how to beating the stress and surviving the holidays with chronic illness and still having your sanity at New Years!

So the holidays are a happy time of year!  All the advertising tells me so.  Yet  it is usually with some nervousness that I approach the holidays.  As a spoonie the holidays can represent a chance to collapse and recharge which I like the sound of.  Having said that, it doesn’t come without its stresses!  For non spoonies it’s stressful.  I actually think my endo does me some favours at this time of year because it is a constant reminder to get organised and get happy.  I know that holiday stress won’t be a good thing for me so here are a few tips that I have found work well for me over the years that aid in surviving the holidays with chronic illness and in staying focused on having my share of the fun!

Start early

I buy presents for people when I see them in the shop, all year round.  I have a bag I keep in the spare bedroom wardrobe that is full of gifts that I have bought on the spot.  I often forget what I have bought. Getting the bag out in November is always fun as I remember where I’ve been and what I’ve bought for who.  It means I avoid crowded panicky shops which isn’t something I like or likes me.  Online shopping is also a revolution for topping up.  Letting other people do the work for you is a great help!  Now, who will want the wicker christmas reindeer I picked up in the post Christmas sale for 50p each…..did I say this way of shopping keeps the costs down too!

Ask for help

Cooking.  Not my forte at the best of times and sometimes thinking I have to do a certain thing and to a certain standard fills me with dread.  So, if I have the budget I buy it in!  Loads of shops here in the UK do a christmas service.  If I don’t have the budget then friends and family bring a plate. It’s a reminder they are all happy to see me well and happy, and would rather bring a vol au vent or two to keep it that way! It’s good for everyone to be involved too and there is a lot of fun to be had when you realise your Aunty Jean has a penchant for gluten free brownies you never knew about!

Have a bolt hole

Staying at other people’s houses can be a strain.  I always do better when I know I have a bolt hole.  So I plan ahead.  How long am I saying I will stay for? Where will I stay?  Just knowing there is a room I can head to for half an hour helps, even if I don’t end up using it.  If there isn’t a bolt hole?  I try and create one.  If there is budget available then I make it a treat and stay somewhere relaxing.  If I don’t have a budget I plan my stay and if there are games I don’t want to join in or I feel tired, I help out in the kitchen, or go for a walk to get the downtime I need.

Enjoy it

My brother jokes with me about the fact I always cry at Christmas.  It’s true I do! Sometimes because I am so tired, the break means I can fully relax and crying is part of the wind down.  Sometimes it’s the chance to step back and be grateful for everything I have in my life which makes me cry too!  My advice?  Let the tears roll! Holidays are a time for being with people you love and who love you.  Remembering that and being open to having their love and support means just being you is always enough.

Happy holidays!

Ali Germain lives in the UK and is a coach and facilitator.  Ali was diagnosed with Endometriosis in 1997 and has been taking a creative approach to life ever since. Connect with Ali on Twitter.