Category Archives: feeling good

Starburst Candy Cures Lupus! . . .I Wish (#HAWMC 20)

Today’s HAWMC prompt is:

Write a news-style article on a miracle cure. What’s the cure? How do you get the cure?

In my other life as a pop culture expert, I fell in love with tabloids. So my story is short, sweet, and ready for the National Enquirer.

Starburst Candy Cures Lupus!

Dr. Katina Rae Stapleton has discovered the cure for Lupus pain – Starburst Candy. Katina has had lupus since she was a teen. One year she went South for a family vacation and was bed-ridden at her grandparents’ homes for two weeks. She ran out of prescription pain meds and decided to pretend that Starbursts would stop the pain. It worked, but Katina was sure the cure was only in her mind. Years later after she went to graduate school and learned how to conduct scientific studies, Katina secretly tested the Starburst cure on herself. Every time her muscles hurt she eats Starbursts instead of taking painkillers. She gained a lot of weight, but is now pain-free. Even if this turns out to be a placebo effect, Starbursts rule.

Disclaimer: This story is sort-of-true. Katina really was stuck in bed for TWO weeks and ate packs and packs of Starbursts to keep from crying. Even though she still believes in her heart-of-hearts that candy makes the world a better place, she can’t prove that Starbursts stop lupus pain. If you have lupus pain, get proper medical treatment. And perhaps a massage (if your doctor thinks it is a good idea).

A Perfect Day, With Lupus (#HAWMC 14)

Today marks my 14th day Blogging for the Health Activist’s Writers Month Challenge. I am excited that I blogged 2 weeks in a row without having to use a get-out-of-blog-free card. If you have been following the posts, I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment on the page or send me a message through Facebook or Twitter.

So, now let’s turn to my perfect day . . . .

My requirements for a perfect day are very simple, though harder to achieve than I wish. I simply want to wake up without any pain and fully rested and stay that way for an entire day.

Katina Rae Stapleton

P.S.  I saw this lovely quote that represents my wish for all my lupus butterflies:

This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.” Unknown

Even though I hurt I smile: A Lupus Theme Song (#HAWMC day 11)

Today’s HAWMC theme is:  Theme song. Imagine your health focus or blog is getting its own theme song. What would the lyrics be? What type of music would it be played to?

I absolutely love theme songs. So far I have blogged about several songs I think provide valuable lessons about living with lupus: The Gambler, Golden, My Favorite Things, and I’m Walking.

For today’s theme song, I picked one of my favorites from Kirk Franklin called    I Smile. The song really speaks to the struggle that many people with chronic illnesses have to stay upbeat and cheerful in the face of incredible pain.

Today’s a new day, but there is no sunshine.
Nothing but clouds, and it’s dark in my heart
and it feels like a cold night.
Today’s a new day, but tell me where are my blue skies,
where is the love and the joy that you promised me
tell me it’s – alright. . . . .

I smile, even though I’m hurt see I smile,
I know God is working so I smile,
Even though I’ve been here for a while
I smile, smile.
It’s so hard to look up when you’ve been down.
Sure would hate to see you give up now
You look so much better when you smile.

I hope this made you smile!

Katina Rae Stapleton

Hats are this lupus patient’s best friend (Health Activist Writers Month Challenge #1)

Today is Day 1 of the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge sponsored by Wego Health. I hope to use each day to provide a Butterfly Lesson based on the #HAWMC prompt.

Pretend you’re making a time capsule of you & your health focus that won’t be opened until 2112. What’s in it? What would people think of it when they found it?

If I had to make a time capsule that represents my journey with lupus, it would be full of hats. Why hats? Like most people with lupus, I am pretty sun sensitive. Sunscreen is a must year round, but I often found that sunscreen wasn’t enough. In the spring and summer, I use hats as an extra layer of protection against the sun’s rays. In many ways, I have been lucky. It turns out that I love hats and don’t mind wearing them. Over the years, I have developed a pretty large collection of hats, including church hats, Kentucky-derby style hats, visors, and baseball caps.

When choosing a hat, making sure it fit my head was the first step. There is nothing worse than a hat that is too small for your head! Next I would decide how much coverage I really needed. While I like small brimmed hats, they don’t provide enough protection for very sunny places. I’ve found that visors protect well from the front, but leave the side of my face exposed. My “big floppy” hats tends to provide a lot of coverage, but limit my side vision (which is a problem while crossing the street).

If possible, I like to wear hats that are UPF rated (meaning they are treated to block UV rays). I have always been able to find them in my local store, but they are also available online at places like Coolibar, and Sun Precautions.

Finally, my hats have to be cute. After all, if you have to wear a hat much of the time, you might as well look good.

Here’s a virtual look at the hat styles you would find in my time capsule:

The Kangol Fedora:

UPF Visor

Wrap-around UPF Visor

Shapeable UPF Sun Hat

Wide-brimmed Sun Hat

UPF Ball Cap

Katina Rae Stapleton

“My Thoughts on Healing” by Guest Blogger Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder of Dancing with Pain®

Here is the way I intuitively have approached healing throughout my life:

  1. You become aware of something that doesn’t feel right. You feel something off in your body. Or a deep voice inside you calls out for change.
  2. You identify what is the root of this imbalance, distress, or dissonance.
  3. You look at all the factors contributing to this imbalance. What is your part? What is the part of other individuals? What is a systemic issue?
  4. You look at the resources you have at your disposal and think about how to put them to use. You think of other resources and of avenues for accessing those resources. You put your creative thinking to use.
  5. You engage in whatever it takes to transform on your end – not only to clean up your side of the street, but to purify yourself inside and manifest your authentic self in your body, your mind, your spirit, and your life. This involves taking risks without any assurance of the outcomes.
  6. You lovingly and honestly, with your best communication skills, challenge those contributing to the issue to reflect on their own contributions to the problem. You hold out your hand to solve the problem together.
  7. You accept that some people are limited in their thinking, their vision, or their ability, and that they may not be interested, willing, or able to participate in the healing. You then have to do an additional level of healing – letting go of those people, or learning how to co-exist with them, without opening and re-opening wounds, without compromising your own ability to fly. This is the step I became aware of more recently in my life. I used to think we all had the same capacities and interests. I now know that is not the case. Some people are married to or marred in suffering. They don’t want to heal. They thrive off of being victims. Other people have chemical imbalances, mental illnesses, personality disorders. Some people just don’t have the energy or mental capacity. Anyhow, this part is super tough for me, because what do you do when you realize you are not even on the same planet as people you love? And when you realize that having them in your life just hurts you over and over and over, but you really don’t want to let them go, because you very clearly can see the path to healing and how that would benefit everyone involved.

Anyhow I’m laying out my seven steps to healing because I think people get stuck in various places along the way, or they try to jump over some of the steps, to get the goodies at the end – the nirvana. But the nirvana only comes through the process. And as I discussed with myself back in my twenties, as I was going through the process myself, you can’t be doing all the soul-searching and digging and risking so as to get those goodies at the end. Because then you’re not really doing it. You’re just going through the motions. And that is not authentic at all. That’s just pantomime.

About Loolwa

Loolwa Khazzoom is the founder and CEO of Dancing with Pain®, a health & wellness company that offers natural pain relief solutions and that has been featured in media outlets including ABC News and The New York Times. Loolwa has written about health & wellness in general, and natural pain relief in particular, for media outlets including The Washington Post, CNN, Yoga Journal, Self, BBC News, The Boston Globe, and AARP.

Watch Loolwa and a lupus patient talking about Dancing with Pain® on ABC.

Her blog Dancing With Pain® is available online at Dancingwithpain.com. Here you will find a unique mix of personal storytelling, investigative journalism, and political activism, all centered around the theme of living with and healing from chronic pain. Whether revealing the magical powers of dance, exposing common forms of medically negligent behavior, providing nutritional tips for natural pain relief, or getting real about the loss and grief that accompany pain, this blog is raw and uncensored — offering a cutting-edge blend of personal experience, spiritual wisdom, and punk rock attitude. This post “My Thoughts on Healing” is a modified version of a post on the Dancing with Pain® blog originally published on January 13th, 2011. 

The healing power of dance: introducing guest blogger Loolwa Khazzoom of Dancing with Pain

“Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life–learn some and think some and draw some and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.” Robert Fulghum

I have always loved to dance. It is truly one of my favorite things, second only to reading. But over the past few years, the pain and fatigue of lupus and fibromyalgia made shaking my tail feathers a daunting prospect most of the time. I satisfied my dance love by becoming an avid watcher of reality-tv dance shows from So You Think You Can Dance to Dancing with the Stars.

But right about the time I did my first vision board in 2010, I decided that watching dance was not enough. I no longer wanted to be a couch potato wrapped in a fuzzy blanket with my trusty heating pad by my side. I wanted to dance again. I started slowly, occasionally joining my best friend from college to dance to DJ Dredd at the Black Cat. Then this past year, I decided to try salsa, hanging out with another friend at salsa nights across the DC metro area. Sometimes the next day I was miserable, with sore muscles from dancing, while other times, I would wake up feeling perfectly fine. I decided that pain-or-not, I enjoyed dancing again.

This summer I am embracing dance. And for those of you who also yearn to dance despite lupus, I will provide updates on my dance-capades which include salsa lessons and a workshop on Moroccan Healing Dance.* You might even see pictures of my dancing the night away on my upcoming cruise vacation!

One of my dancespirations has been the blog Dancing with Pain written by Loolwa Khazzoom, chronic pain expert and the founder and CEO of Dancing with Pain, a health and wellness company that offers natural pain relief solutions.  Look out for the upcoming Butterfly Lessons guest blog post this Friday, May 27th contributed by Loolwa called “My thoughts on healing.”

May you find your passion and pursue it.

Take care,

Katina Rae Stapleton

* You may be thinking: “Wasn’t her last blog post about being in too much pain to willingly give up her seat on the commuter train?” Yes it was! That is the beauty of dance. I have found that when I dance, I don’t seem to feel the pain as acutely. Please don’t take this as medical advice though. If you plan to start dancing (or any kind of exercise, really), you should contact your doctor first for feedback. This is actually my third set of salsa classes. I completed the first set successfully, but had to quit the second because I was too sick to attend. I keep thinking that the third time is the charm. I won’t let salsa defeat me (LOL). You’re probably also thinking, “Moroccan Healing Dance? What in the world is that?” Well, every year the Belly Dancers of Color Association (BOCA) holds a Movement and Wellness Expo in the DC area on Memorial Day weekend. This is the first year I will be in town and I signed up for the healing dance class and a class on reflexology. I have not the slightest idea what I am in for, but believe that I am going to have a fabulous time. I will let you know how everything goes.

It’s a new day for Feeling Good

As I rang in the New Year, I thought of one of my favorite songs “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone. Her lyrics represent the exact opposite of New Year’s resolutions. This January, instead of coming up with a list of things that you will chastise yourself about if you don’t accomplish them, embrace life.  Sing with me:

Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by you know how I feel

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good

Consider all the possibilities that 2011 brings: New experiences, new joys, new chances to feel better.

And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
For me

The Butterfly Lesson: So what if 2010 brought exhaustion and pain! Each day in 2011 brings a new day, a new dawn, and a chance to say “I’m feeling good!”

Take care,

Katina Rae Stapleton

Butterfly Bonus: While Jennifer Hudson (above) did a fabulous rendition of Feeling Good, there is nothing that matches classic Nina Simone. Enjoy . . .