chronic illness, Health, life, mental health, MS

Exercise, the DIY DMT

It’s been a long six and a half years since my MS diagnosis, seven since the relapse that made teaching impossible, but I’ve healed more than I thought possible back in 2015.

I attribute my healing to various things, namely a healthy, stress-free lifestyle, low-dose Naltrexone (LDN), a healthy, mostly vegan diet, circadian fasting (more on that later), time in nature and in my garden, and a great dose of luck that this monster isn’t as aggressive for me as it is for some people.

The biggest factor in the last year though, has been exercise. I thought they were lying. When you barely have enough energy to breathe, how can you possibly exercise? Or, when you do have the energy, you go as hard as the ‘old you’ could manage, then end up in bed for days, useless as braces on a duck.

Much nicer with no braces.
Photo by Skyler Ewing on

So I decided I needed to be methodical about it, and make a commitment to myself to spend half an hour a day using it before I lose it. Never mind MS, age starts gnawing away at the natural strength you used to take for granted and it’s a slippery slope. If I can binge watch Survivor at the end of the day, surely I can carve out half an hour for exercise.

Remember the movie About A Boy? Hugh Grant’s character was a rich layabout who organized his days in thirty minute increments. It became wisdom to me when I was first on disability, and now at least one of those thirty minute chunks is devoted to exercise.

If the weather permits, my exercise is walking outside because it also checks off another important part of my morning routine which is at least 30 minutes of sunlight (or a reasonable facsimile thereof-gray skies are still beautiful). I’m all about efficiency!

Otherwise, I either ride the recumbent bike or do yoga or pilates on YouTube. There are some amazing channels out there, I’ll link a few favourites at the bottom. The trick is, pick the beginner videos. You have nothing to prove except a commitment to consistency.

I know, I know, you used to be able to handle intermediate or advanced, but remember the braces on a duck? While incongruous, it speaks nothing to the true pain you can cause yourself by trying to do too much too fast. Maybe we should picture a tortoise with a headband instead. Since I’ve been limiting myself to gentle but CONSISTENT exercise, I have finally been able to maintain an exercise routine and start to see and feel the benefits.

the tortoise→ MS Warrior

the hand → MS

The tortoise might be caught but he never stops moving!

My newer, all-time favourite paid exercise program, that I do two or three times a week because it always leaves me with a smile on my face, is BodyGroove. With catch phrases like “you can’t do it wrong” and “do whatever feels good for your body”, they have turned exercise into a fun way to connect with your body and dance like it’s 1988.

For each song, they introduce three different rhythms that are simple enough for you to interpret however you want but sooo good for your cognitive health. Check out these articles for all the benefits dance provides.

I’m not affiliated in anyway, I just think it’s a great program for anyone chronically ill, as they have all sorts of people demonstrating and showing how much you can do even sitting down. You don’t need any experience but I grew up dancing in a fairly serious way so I love that I can reconnect with that previous iteration of myself, even on days when the MonSter makes my movements sluggish and difficult.

On my darkest days, stuck in my bed, I dance in my head like I used to as a child. With strength, freedom and passion. Now, even on my mediocre days, I can push myself to do it because “you can’t do it wrong”. You need to move your body, so why not groove your body?

It was my oft-mentioned, well-respected naturopath, Dr Pamela Hutchinson that gave me the idea for the title of this post. Dr Pam believes that exercise should be considered a DMT(disease-modifying therapy), and my neurologist agrees that exercise is the single most important thing you can do to fight MS.

They’re not lying. Move your body, but gently. If you can’t commit to half an hour, commit to five minutes and build up from there. The important thing is to get or keep moving so we don’t lose any more of the mobility and strength that we still have. Fight the fight. You got this!

Top 5 exercises for the chronic illness warrior

  1. Walk – in nature or at least outside
  2. Yoga – Jessica Richburg – Yoga with Kassandra – Yoga with Adrienne
  3. Pilates – Move with Nicole
  4. Recumbent bike – with a nature meditation video
  5. Body Groove

Amanda ❤️

chronic illness, garden, gratitude, Health, life, mental health, MS

Garden Tour – May 2021

Well, hello there! It’s been… a while, to say the least. The blogging and writing has been overtaken by the garden. It keeps me busy and (mostly) out of trouble but doesn’t leave a lot of time for other pursuits like writing. But that’s a positive, as it keeps me moving – “Motion is Lotion”, as one of my favourite MSers loves to say.

It has certainly been a peaceful and hopeful place to spend time during the pandemic, and I am grateful for that every single day. The pictures really don’t do it justice, and things are just starting to come together after years of redesigning and refiguring, but I hope you can experience even a fraction of the joy that I find here every day.

Much more interesting than the sloped lawn that was here when we moved in.
Twelve years later and the beds have finally stopped moving. 😀
Our driftwood ‘tree’ is a favourite climbing post for the cat but is sadly getting a bit wobbly as it slowly decays. Smudge could get quite the surprise one day soon!
view from the bottom of the garden where we mostly sit

The Working Garden – The Vegetables

As you see, I like to mix it up and stuff many different vegetables into a container or raised bed. I’m not sure it’s the most efficient or productive method but I like the variation. Not only does working in the garden keep me physically and mentally healthy, growing our own food has been a huge factor in getting my symptoms under control.

The Orchard – apples, lemon, kiwi, onions, radishes, kale and kohlrabi
cucumbers, beans, dill, celery, cherry tomatoes, peppers and potatoes

Gardening is a lot of work, and can become overwhelming if it gets away from you. I’m very lucky that my husband and I share the passion and the work. Adding a chronic illness to the mix can make it seem impossible on some days, with crushing fatigue, dizziness, pain and brain fog making the simplest tasks insurmountable. Those are the days to rest and enjoy, meditate and reflect.

Just like housework, the weeds will always be there and there is always more to do than time to do it. But that’s a gift. And, like everything in life, it’s all about perspective and what you choose to focus on. On my good days, I move slowly, take lots of breaks and hydrate constantly. On my bad days, I focus on what’s blooming, what’s growing well, and the overall beauty of the garden. There is always something to appreciate.

Wishing you peace, love, hope and joy, today and every day.


P.S. It’s always interesting to see the changes from year to year. So, here’s the May Tour from 2020. Also the Vegetable Tour.

chronic illness, Health, life, mental health, MS

May Garden Tour

Aloha! Since my backyard urban farm in-development has taken up all my focus and energy and I haven’t been writing at all, I thought I’d share photos of how I’ve been staying busy.

Honestly, it has become a full-time job. There are days when the MonSter awakes and I drag myself out of bed hardly able to face the thought of all the tasks calling for attention. But I make myself get out there every day at least for 20 minutes. Usually that ends up with me outside all day.

Besides the obvious advantages of all that vitamin D and fresh air, I know that digging in the dirt is helping rebuild my immune system and my gut microbiota. So even on the toughest days, I rest a lot but I make myself do the lighter tasks. The trick is to not focus on everything that needs to be done but to put the blinders and just do one, small, task.

Anyway, enough of that. Have a wander through our garden.

Food garden, Lavender , buddleias, wallflower, chives, irises, onions, beets,
10 years ago this was a grassy hill.
Chives,   Snapdragons , lilies ,  succulents , irises,lavender , lilac, buddleia
All the boulders, dirt and driftwood were hauled in and set by hand (and occasionally a rickety dolly with flat tires) by my very determined and creative husband. Those are the boots he wore out during the first few years.
Lilac, iris, lupin,  cosmos, daisies, Corsican mint
We obviously don’t play much bocce ball. 😏
Angelica,  alpine blue,  garden steps
One of my favourite statues because I bought it with a gift certificate from one of my grade one classes.
Rockcress, alyssum, lavatera, wallflower, buddleia, lavender ,garlic, kale, lithadora, ornamental  oregano , snapdragons, iris, strawberries, peonies
The oldest part of the garden. We found the sign buried when we moved in. The alyssum(bottom) reseeded itself from last year.
Petunias, onions, rose, garlic
Pallet deck at the top of the garden.
Hopefully one day a greenhouse.
Lemon, blueberry , kiwi,  artichoke, cucumbers, beans, onions, garlic, carrots, dill, nasturtium , leeks, petunias
Top garden – the Mediterranean garden
Lemon tree, artichoke, kiwi vine, blueberries and apple trees in the distance.
Oh, and that pepper in the tub is called a “ring of fire”. 🤣🤣🤣
Artichoke bud, food garden
Here comes an artichoke!
Daphne, Angelica, garlic, peonies, buddleia, Rosemary, lupin
New vegetable bed growing zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, leeks, kale, dill, kohlrabi and buckwheat. Little bird was a Mother’s Day gift from my girls.
New vegetable bed beside the rhubarb and
the Nelly Moser clematis(far left) and anemones (right) finally flowering!
Instead of being chowed down by the deer. 🤞🏻👩🏻‍🌾🤞🏻
Apple tree bed growing onions, beets, potatoes, kohlrabi, radishes and carrots.
View from the apple tree bed
Barbie skinny dipping with a 20 year old bath toy.
Hmmm…that sounds strange… 😳
View from the bottom, the newest part just finished this year. This is where we mostly sit because it’s cool and shady beside the cedar hedge.

I know not everyone is fortunate enough to have a yard to garden. But even a small pot on a windowsill can grow parsley, basil and cilantro. Food security is a serious issue that has finally been brought to the forefront of people’s minds because of the Covid-19 situation. Start small and grow your own!

Alright, thanks for joining me. I didn’t even get to the vegetable beds by the house, but I’ll leave that for another post.

Take care, stay calm and stay safe. And garden!

❤️ Amanda

chronic illness, MS

Crafts and chronic illness

I recently had some surprising reactions to the fact that I’ve been playing around with watercolours and calligraphy. Surprising, as in not terribly positive or supportive.

So, partly to get it out of my head but more importantly to share the BEST little craft for us spoonies, I decided to pass on another discovery.

First of all, as to the why am I doing ‘weird’ things like watercolour and calligraphy? Ummm…have you met me? Well, most of you haven’t, but whatever. Besides being Handy Mandy, I’ve always been crafty like that.

Handmade candles for 250 at our wedding, many Halloween costumes, school costumes for my students’ annual plays. Oh, and my extended family has always loved getting handmade gifts for Christmas. BAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Too bad, it amuses me. 🤓

My happy place

Anyway, the crafties have returned because the writing muses have gone on strike, or fled to a tiny house in Timbuktu. Also, I like learning new things so the rest of my brain doesn’t join them.

And the truth is, I spend a lot of time resting, not by choice. Sitting on my butt reading, watching tennis or skating, because that’s all my body will tolerate.

Fatigue is a son of a bitch. Worse for me in the winter. But even though my body is pretty much permanently conked out so it’s like moving through setting concrete, my mind wants to be doing something productive.

So at the moment, I am queen of the simple crafts. I’m so excited to decorate for our handmade Christmas, but that’s another post. And not handmade gifts, as our children feared when I mentioned it last night. Just decorations people, you can all relax. 😂

Right now, I have to share the best craft I’ve found that I can do with little effort and not even looking – finger knitting! So simple and forgiving but the possibilities are endless.

I had a 6 year old try to teach me in my last year teaching but I was already struggling so focusing on the instructions while multitasking in a busy classroom was beyond me. Boy she was patient as she tried to teach me with so many interruptions and my clumsy brain and fingers tangling everything up. Sweet kid.

Anyway, in the quiet of my bedroom I’ve figured it out and it’s perfect. Here’s the link I used to learn:

If I ever knit anything beyond a long string, I’ll post it here. 😏 Planning to try for a scarf. People make all sorts of cool things with it though.

❤️ Amanda

Now I found out you can finger crochet too – look out!!

chronic illness, life, Poetry

Voodoo Doll: MS Awareness

Huge stakes pierce my heels

Burning red hot fire

Millions of minuscule knives

Flay the insides of my feet

A giant vegetable peeler slices off

The bottoms


I’m sorry to those I squashed

Those I looked down upon

From any temporary high ground

I believed I held

I am your voodoo doll

And you will have your revenge

Over and over


The burning piercing spreads

To hands, up legs, then forearms

Who needs to work on abs

When they stay contracted constantly

Holding in the moans

And the nausea from the pain?


I’m sorry to those I squashed

Those I looked down upon

From any temporary high ground

I believed I held

I am your voodoo doll

And you will have your revenge

Over and over

I don’t really believe that my chronic illness is a matter of revenge, but it’s an easy trap to fall into when I’m trying to pretend all is well but the pain is overwhelming. I think of myself as a kind person but I know in my past immature, insecure life I wasn’t always the best person I could be. However, we can only go forward and try to do better.

Kindness is the answer.

❤️ Amanda