In my book A Journey of Creative Healing I tell how I believe that committing to a creative project every day, come rain or shine, helped heal me from multiple sclerosis.
When that intuitive message came to do something creative everyday it made total sense as I had learned the joy and satisfaction of being creative from an early age. My mother was the ultimate creative, and an eminently kind gentle soul – I was her shadow, I loved her beyond the widest ocean, higher than the sky and all of the tea in China!
My grandfather was a self-made man, he was an importer of coffee and dried fruits and conservative to the bone, which meant he did not believe in women working. Instead, Mummy learned to sew a fine seam, make all of her clothes and hats. She loved hats and wore them well, so much so they became her signature dressing, ‘choose the hat first darling and the decision on the rest of the outfit falls into line.’
When eventually my Grandfather gave permission for my parents to marry after seven years of ‘courting,’ in setting up her first home she rebelled against the heavily Victorian style of the house of her childhood and embraced the 1930’s cutting-edge-fashion of art deco. She was an avid collector of Clarice Cliff, the legendary ceramic artist’s pottery. In the Blitz, we lost our home and everything in it. Later when we lived with our grandfather, his house was hit by a V1 doodle bug and again all we had were clothes we stood in.
‘Make Do & Mend’ was a government catchphrase during that time and my mother was very good at. She found a semi-detached house to rent and once again created a stylish home. There were no quarterly household item collections, there were no flea markets and furniture was scarcer than hen’s teeth with everything rationed. But she begged borrowed and made make-do-&-mend into an art form. Today’s home-stylists would have adored her as she was the Queen of renovation. She bought the old, tired and worn back to life; recovering threadbare chairs and settees, French polishing scratched and dull furniture to a glowing patina and painting the house inside and out.
She especially loved the spill of lighting from table lamps, overhead lighting was never used, and graced all of her many lamps with her hand-made pleated chiffon lampshades. She was equally at home in the garden and our small colourful blooming patches, both front and back, were the envy of neighbours.
She was a good cook, and when her father died and left her a small inheritance she set up a small café. Immediately her morning and afternoon tea concept was a winner, people loved her sense of style, pink bone china for tea and for coffee, the first of its kind shatter free glass cups and saucers. Soon the market demanded luncheons and she started her day before sparrow twitter preparing, baking and cooking and achieving a regular sixty covers a day for lunch and a steady morning and afternoon trade.
She smoked, a pack of cigarettes a day, but elegantly like a glamorous heroine out of a forties film and died too young. She was a casualty of the English class system, she identified herself as ‘upper middle class’ and fought to hang onto to this label throughout her life. Sadly if she had been asked to define herself her first priority would be ‘I am middle class, but upper middle class,’ instead of saying what a magnificent all-round nurturing Goddess that she was.
While I was researching and writing my latest book ‘A Journey of Creative Healing,’ I read the New York Times best selling book ‘Radical Remission – Surviving Cancer against all Odds.’ The author is Dr Kelly A Turner, a researcher and psychotherapist who specializes in integrative oncology. While Kelly was studying for her Phd she was shocked that no one was investigating cases of unexpected survivor’s of advanced cancer, so this became her purpose to research and identify common factors of these survivor’s cures – which she refers to as radical remissions. The book summarises her decade of research, her thousand interviews of patients and finally identifies the nine key factors that can improve people’s chance’s of remission.
I was thrilled and amazed that most of my steps to recovery from MS mirrored those of these cancer survivor factors.
As with all the other health professionals work I feature in my book ‘A Journey of Creative Healing,’ I sought Dr Turner’s permission to use material attributed to her work. She is also the founder of the The Radical Remission Project that is dedicated to continuing research and creating a community for survivors, patients, guests, and health professionals and the Project’s mission is to collect and verify survivor stories so that these in turn may help others. Although not a cancer survivor I was asked to document my healing from MS, over half a century ago, to add to their data.
Imagine my delight today to find that I am The Radical Remission Healing Story of the Month. (March 2018).
I acknowledge that some sickness is more immediately life threatening than others but I still see that sickness has the same commonality whatever diagnostic label you give it. Looking at the enormous contribution of Kelly Turner’s work and my singular, but no less effective, anecdotal story of recovery, it appears the predominant common denominators of improving your chances of recovery to wellness are: Taking control of your health, listening and acting upon your intuition, releasing suppressed emotions, embracing social support, deepening your spiritual awareness and having a strong reason for living.
There are other factors in Kelly’s book – you need to read it – and yes in my case, the vital icing-on-the-cake factor was to consistently put my focus on doing something that gave me joy – – a Daily Creative Project.
I was a mother of two small children when my husband was tragically killed in a light plane crash. I rejected treatment when doctors told me I would be wheelchair bound within months. Instead I acted upon a powerful intuitive message that prompted me to do something creative every day. It did not matter what, simply my daily focus should be on planning and creating something I had never done before. It did not matter what—I simply needed to focus on the planning and joy of creativity.
Within twelve months I could once again walk without aids.I have now been in full remission from MS for more than 50 years.
In A Journey of Creative Healing I share my remarkable story and reveal how listening to your intuitive voice, exploring creativity in all its guises, can deliver recovery from disease and trauma. I believe the six steps I took in my recovery will inspire and help others to find their own path to health.Recent scientific research supports my six-step program, which I undertook to help heal from overwhelming grief and profound illness more than 50 years ago.
If you read it and found it valuable, can I ask you please to review it. Reviews are the most effective way getting this book into the hands of people who may find the steps in this book beneficial.
Serendipity — I have always had a love/hate thing with dieting and was gearing myself up to go on yet another diet to rid the extra kilo or two, when I found this article from the New York Times (2016) written by Sandra Aamodt, neuroscientist and the author of “Why Diets Make Us Fat: The Unintended Consequences of Our Obsession With Weight Loss.” – “Why You Can’t Lose Weight on a Diet -The problem isn’t willpower. It’s neuroscience.You can’t — and shouldn’t — fight back.”
‘SIX years after dropping an average of 129 pounds on the American TV program “The Biggest Loser,” a new study reports, the participants were burning about 500 fewer calories a day than other people their age and size. This helps explain why they had regained 70 percent of their lost weight since the show’s finale. The diet industry reacted defensively, arguing that the participants had lost weight too fast or ate the wrong kinds of food — that diets do work, if you pick the right one.
But this study is just the latest example of research showing that in the long run dieting is rarely effective, doesn’t reliably improve health and does more harm than good. There is a better way to eat.
The root of the problem is not willpower but neuroscience. Metabolic suppression is one of several powerful tools that the brain uses to keep the body within a certain weight range, called the set point. The range, which varies from person to person, is determined by genes and life experience. When dieters’ weight drops below it, they not only burn fewer calories but also produce more hunger-inducing hormones and find eating more rewarding.
The brain’s weight-regulation system considers your set point to be the correct weight for you, whether or not your doctor agrees. If someone starts at 120 pounds and drops to 80, her brain rightfully declares a starvation state of emergency, using every method available to get that weight back up to normal. The same thing happens to someone who starts at 300 pounds and diets down to 200, as the “Biggest Loser” participants discovered.
This coordinated brain response is a major reason that dieters find weight loss so hard to achieve and maintain. For example, men with severe obesity have only one chance in 1,290 of reaching the normal weight range within a year; severely obese women have one chance in 677. A vast majority of those who beat the odds are likely to end up gaining the weight back over the next five years. In private, even the diet industry agrees that weight loss is rarely sustained. A report for members of the industry stated: “In 2002, 231 million Europeans attempted some form of diet. Of these only 1 percent will achieve permanent weight loss.”
The specific “Biggest Loser” diet plan is probably not to blame. A previous study, found similar metabolic suppression in people who had lost weight and kept it off for up to six years. Whether weight is lost slowly or quickly has no effect on later regain. Likewise — despite endless debate about the relative value of different approaches — in head-to-head comparisons, diet plans that provide the same calories through different types of food lead to similar weight loss and regain.
As a neuroscientist, I’ve read hundreds of studies on the brain’s ability to fight weight loss. I also know about it from experience. For three decades, starting at age 13, I lost and regained the same 10 or 15 pounds almost every year. On my most serious diet, in my late 20s, I got down to 125 pounds, 30 pounds below my normal weight. I wanted (unwisely) to lose more, but I got stuck. After several months of eating fewer than 800 calories a day and spending an hour at the gym every morning, I hadn’t lost another ounce. When I gave up on losing and switched my goal to maintaining that weight, I started gaining instead.
I was lucky to end up back at my starting weight instead of above it. After about five years, 41 percent of dieters gain back more weight than they lost. Long-term studies show dieters are more likely than non-dieters to become obese over the next one to 15 years. That’s true in men and women, across ethnic groups, from childhood through middle age. The effect is strongest in those who started in the normal weight range, a group that includes almost half of the female dieters in the United States.
Some experts argue that instead of dieting leading to long-term weight gain, the relationship goes in the other direction: People who are genetically prone to gain weight are more likely to diet. To test this idea, researchers followed over 4,000 twins aged 16 to 25. Dieters were more likely to gain weight than their non-dieting identical twins, suggesting that dieting does indeed increase weight gain even after accounting for genetic background. The difference in weight gain was even larger between fraternal twins, so dieters may also have a higher genetic tendency to gain. The study found that a single diet increased the odds of becoming overweight by a factor of two in men and three in women. Women who had gone on two or more diets during the study were five times as likely to become overweight.
The causal relationship between diets and weight gain can also be tested by studying people with an external motivation to lose weight. Boxers and wrestlers who diet to qualify for their weight classes presumably have no particular genetic predisposition toward obesity.
Yet a 2006 study, found that elite athletes who competed for Finland in such weight-conscious sports were three times more likely to be obese by age 60 than their peers who competed in other sports.
To test this idea rigorously, researchers could randomly assign people to worry about their weight, but that is hard to do. One program took the opposite approach, though, helping teenage girls who were unhappy with their bodies to become less concerned about their weight. In a randomized trial, the eBody Project, an online program to fight eating disorders by reducing girls’ desire to be thin, led to less dieting and also prevented future weight gain. Girls who participated in the program saw their weight remain stable over the next two years, while their peers without the intervention gained a few pounds.
WHY would dieting lead to weight gain? First, dieting is stressful. Calorie restriction produces stress hormones, which act on fat cells to increase the amount of abdominal fat. Such fat is associated with medical problems like diabetes and heart disease, regardless of overall weight.
Second, weight anxiety and dieting predict later binge eating, as well as weight gain. Girls who labeled themselves as dieters in early adolescence were three times more likely to become overweight over the next four years. Another study found that adolescent girls who dieted frequently were 12 times more likely than non-dieters to binge two years later.
My repeated dieting eventually caught up with me, as this research would predict. When I was in graduate school and under a lot of stress, I started binge eating. I would finish a carton of ice cream or a box of saltines with butter, usually at 3 a.m. The urge to keep eating was intense, even after I had made myself sick.
Fortunately, when the stress eased, I was able to stop. At the time, I felt terrible about being out of control, but now I know that binge eating is a common mammalian response to starvation.
Much of what we understand about weight regulation comes from studies of rodents, whose eating habits resemble ours. Mice and rats enjoy the same wide range of foods that we do. When tasty food is plentiful, individual rodents gain different amounts of weight, and the genes that influence weight in people have similar effects in mice. Under stress, rodents eat more sweet and fatty foods. Like us, both laboratory and wild rodents have become fatter over the past few decades.
In the laboratory, rodents learn to binge when deprivation alternates with tasty food — a situation familiar to many dieters. Rats develop binge eating after several weeks consisting of five days of food restriction followed by two days of free access to Oreos.
Four days later, a brief stressor leads them to eat almost twice as many Oreos as animals that received the stressor but did not have their diets restricted. A small taste of Oreos can induce deprived animals to binge on regular chow, if nothing else is available. Repeated food deprivation changes dopamine and other neurotransmitters in the brain that govern how animals respond to rewards, which increases their motivation to seek out and eat food. This may explain why the animals binge, especially as these brain changes can last long after the diet is over.
In people, dieting also reduces the influence of the brain’s weight-regulation system by teaching us to rely on rules rather than hunger to control eating. People who eat this way become more vulnerable to external cues telling them what to eat. In the modern environment, many of those cues were invented by marketers to make us eat more, like advertising, supersizing and the all-you-can-eat buffet. Studies show that long-term dieters are more likely to eat for emotional reasons or simply because food is available.
When dieters who have long ignored their hunger finally exhaust their willpower, they tend to overeat for all these reasons, leading to weight gain.
Even people who understand the difficulty of long-term weight loss often turn to dieting because they are worried about health problems associated with obesity like heart disease and diabetes. But our culture’s view of obesity as uniquely deadly is mistaken. Low fitness, smoking, high blood pressure, low income and loneliness are all better predictors of early death than obesity. Exercise is especially important: Data from a 2009 study showed that low fitness is responsible for 16 percent to 17 percent of deaths in the United States, while obesity accounts for only 2 percent to 3 percent, once fitness is factored out. Exercise reduces abdominal fat and improves health, even without weight loss. This suggests that overweight people should focus more on exercising than on calorie restriction.
In addition, the evidence that dieting improves people’s health is surprisingly poor. Part of the problem is that no one knows how to get more than a small fraction of people to sustain weight loss for years. The few studies that overcame that hurdle are not encouraging. In a 2013 study of obese and overweight people with diabetes, on average the dieters maintained a 6 percent weight loss for over nine years, but the dieters had a similar number of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease during that time as the control group. Earlier this year, researchers found that intentional weight loss had no effect on mortality in overweight diabetics followed for 19 years.
Diets often do improve cholesterol, blood sugar and other health markers in the short term, but these gains may result from changes in behavior like exercising and eating more vegetables. Obese people who exercise, eat enough vegetables and don’t smoke are no more likely to die young than normal-weight people with the same habits. A 2013 meta-analysis (which combines the results of multiple studies) found that health improvements in dieters have no relationship to the amount of weight they lose.
If dieting doesn’t work, what should we do instead? I recommend mindful eating — paying attention to signals of hunger and fullness, without judgment, to relearn how to eat only as much as the brain’s weight-regulation system commands.
Relative to chronic dieters, people who eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full are less likely to become overweight, maintain more stable weights over time and spend less time thinking about food. Mindful eating also helps people with eating disorders like binge eating learn to eat normally. Depending on the individual’s set point, mindful eating may reduce weight or it may not. Either way, it’s a powerful tool to maintain weight stability, without deprivation.
I finally gave up dieting six years ago, and I’m much happier. I redirected the energy I used to spend on dieting to establishing daily habits of exercise and meditation. I also enjoy food more while worrying about it less, now that it no longer comes with a side order of shame.’
Sandra Aamodt, neuroscientist, the author of “Why Diets Make Us Fat: The Unintended Consequences of Our Obsession With Weight Loss.”
It is by logic we prove, but intuition that we discover.’
Leonardo Da Vinci
Umm – New Beginnings. I see your reasoning it being New Year’s day.
‘Yes but what else is obvious about New Beginnings Mary? You know when I softly speak you should always look for the obvious in my message.
Well, New Beginnings obviously means something is ending. Right?
Well, to end, to leave, to finish and turn your back on the old can often be a painful uncomfortable process.
‘Do you think change needs to be painful Mary?’
I think if you want to make serious life changes it needs the impetus of the stone in the shoe. Without it one would continue on in the same old way. Pain is the crucible that facilitates change.
‘Like the phoenix rising from the ashes?
Yes, that is it. The painful work of letting go of the past is always rewarded by unparalleled, uncharted and beyond our wildest imagination New Beginnings.
Many emergency workers whose job it is to keep people safe, trust their intuition inexplicably and act upon it immediately without questioning. Like the story of the firefighter, who dousing a seemingly easily managed fire, knows instantly at gut level that he has to get out of the building. He makes it out just in time to witness the building’s massive collapse and its eruption into a blazing inferno.
Intuition is an immediate knowing, a first flush of thought before the intellect tries to reason it out. It provides us with a sense of knowing that this is the right or wrong course to take, the decision to make or the person to trust or distrust.
Albert Einstein, a believer in the power of imagination and intuition said “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift”.
In public speaking, intuition will unfailing guide you to a greater speech and a more dynamic performance. Use intuition to edit your speech and guide your choice to pick the holistic memory chunks or prompts to keep you on track at the lectern. Use your intuition to measure the response of the audience so that you can refine or add to your words if needed. At question time let it direct you diplomatically in your response to each of the questions
Encourage your intuitive ability by choosing to become more aware of that gut feeling, that small voice in your head. Challenge yourself to identify who may be on the caller on phone when it rings or when standing at a bank of elevators ask which one will arrive first. So at first you maybe wrong – but the more you practice the intuitive message becomes undeniably evident.
Mary Atkins – Author of the definitive self-help guide to public speaking Finding Your Voice – ten steps to successful public speaking. available in two editions (same content but different covers) throughout the world and now on Kindle.