Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Faux Anxiety

I have struggled with anxiety for most of my life. What works best for me now to maintain balance are natural methods including meditation and a daily spiritual practice. Both keep me grounded and at peace. I am sharing an experience I had last month, because for the first time, I had an induced anxiety experience. 

One night when I was trying to sleep, my heart started to palpitate. It was beating normally, and then there was this periodic hard beat. It hurt and it scared me. I would change sleeping positions and it would go away for a time, but eventually it came back and I would have to readjust myself again. I felt extremely nervous and I couldn't sleep. I have infrequently experienced this sensation before, but I could never figure out what was causing it. 

The next morning my whole body was a nervous wreck. I didn't have the chest pain, but I felt awful and stressed. I tried to figure out what brought this on, it was extreme anxiety and it wasn't typical for me. 

I had skipped a few meditations, so I thought maybe that was it. I meditated and felt calm for a short time after, but it soon came back in full force. I went food shopping and felt horrible on the drive and at the store. I was so nervous and the feeling kept coming in unstoppable waves. I tried becoming aware of my breath, and doing some relaxing breathing, but it didn't help. It was beyond anything I had ever experienced before, and I couldn't stop it. 

There was nothing exceptional going on in my life that was troubling me or weighing on my mind. I couldn't imagine where this was coming from. It felt like a constant panic attack. From what I have read, panic attacks go through a cycle, peak and then subside. This didn't subside, it was relentless and unbearable. 

I went through daily anxiety and nightly chest palpitations for two days when I finally figured out what it was. It was this:

I normally avoid artificial sweeteners, as I know they can affect mood, and I don't think that they are particularly healthy. Well, I let that rule slide because I've been on my never-ending diet, and I wanted something low-cal to drink besides water. I bought a case of my favorite, tasty, diet drink: Fresca. When I have bought it in the past (rarely, but like I said, it's so tasty!), I have no more than one can every few days. This time, I went on a binge and had two cans a day. It was a very bad idea and I should have stuck to water, seltzer, and tea.

It took four days to get the effects of the aspartame out of my system. And now thinking back, perhaps the times that I have had palpitations, it was when I had a Fresca (or something else that I didn't notice had an artificial sweetener in it). I probably didn't notice the cause before because I wasn't drinking as much and didn't have the other excessive symptoms. After this experience, I have become even more label conscious and realized aspartame was lurking in my yogurt and sucralose in my favorite fruit cup. Those who are sensitive to aspartame can experience headaches, dizziness, confusion, memory loss, blurred vision, severe depression, irritability, anxiety attacks and more. I have also learned that when I see this on the label: Phenylketonurics - contains phenylalanine, it is another indicator that aspartame is in the food.

I wanted to share this not as a substitute for medical care. Obviously if you having heart palpitations or anything that is out of the ordinary, see a doctor for a proper diagnosis. But I wanted to share my experience as a suggestion to think beyond stress, hormones, or brain chemistry as the cause of anxiety and panic attacks. It is possible that it could be something lurking in your food, it just could be faux anxiety. And the best part is, with simply monitoring of the ingredients in the food you eat, this can be staved off.

In Love & Gratitude,

Kerri Mulhern

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Kindness And The Cake Fairy

I had just returned from a relaxing weekend at the coast with my family. We unpacked the car and while my husband vacuumed the sand from the trunk, I decided to take my son to the Wendy's around the corner from us to pick up some lunch.

We pulled into the Wendy's parking lot and a white pickup truck pulled ahead of us in the drive-thru lane. There were a couple of cars ahead of us. In less than a minute, the white truck decided he couldn't wait. Because he was so close to the car in front of him, he backed right into my car to get out of the line. I could hear the awful crunching of the front of my car, it sounded like all of the metal was being mangled. I couldn't get out of the way of the mess that was happening, I felt helpless.

The truck pulled out of line, and I did too, expecting that we would both pull over and sort through this accident. Instead, the truck went flying around the parking lot. It was obvious that the driver was trying to get away. I was shocked and angry that someone would do that. It's not normally in me, but I tore after him because I wanted to get the license plate number. I kept repeating the plate number to my son who recorded it on his phone. As the car sped out of the parking lot, and into what is normally a very busy street, I stopped at the edge of the parking lot. I wasn't getting into a road rage scenario over this, or jeopardize my son's safety.  

I turned into the first empty space in the parking lot. I was feeling stunned that someone would actually do that. My son was fine and just as surprised as I was over the whole incident. He was actually a little jazzed about all of the excitement. With dread, I got out of the car to assess the damage. It sounded so awful. I don't get attached to physical things, but I actually really like this car. It's still new and I am trying my best to really take care of her (Jophiel). She's the Kind Car for my Kindness...Pass It On missions, and I try to treat the car with the love that it is being use for. Before I got out, I called my husband, but he was still cleaning out the sand, so didn't hear my initial call.

When I walked to the front of the car, I was so relieved to see that there was only damage to the plastic grill. That sound must have just been the hitch of the truck gnarling that small part of my car. I was still upset, but very thankful that it wasn't worse.

I pulled my phone out to call the police when a car pulled right beside mine. Soon after another car pulled beside that one. Out of the first car emerged a lovely couple. I noticed the magnet on the side of their car immediately and it made me smile, it said "The Cake Fairy." Shelly Leonard (aka The Cake Fairy) and her husband were kind enough to stop. My legs were shaking from pure adrenaline and Shelly asked if I was ok. She was so sweet and caring. Not only did they stop to see if we were alright, Shelly actually got the license plate number for me in case I didn't! I seriously am still so overwhelmed by her kindness to a complete stranger. 

I asked Shelly if she would mind if I took her information just in case the police needed a witness. Without hesitation, she started to give me her number, while her husband popped his head back into their car to pull out her business card. When I saw that, I thought, not only is he being generous and helpful, I could see that he was honoring his wife for this beautiful business she created. That touched me too. Having someone support you in your passion is such a gift, and I was witness to it in that moment.

I didn't talk as much with the gentleman in the second car, but he let me know that the truck was a Ford F150 Platinum. I am very grateful to him too. There is such beauty in knowing that there are people who are willing to stop and help just because. It wasn't for a reward or for something for any of them, it was just because that's who they are. There are just incredibly wonderful people in this world. The intention of today's blog isn't about the accident, or the runaway truck, it is really about gratitude for such kindness given. It is easy to focus on the bad, but the more important piece is the goodness.

After they left, the police and my husband arrived and I reported everything necessary. I chatted with Shelly afterwards via text and she continued to be kind and willing to help if needed. Of course I looked up her Facebook page to see all of her incredible creations. You can see the love (and talent!) she puts into what she does from cookies to cupcakes, cake pops, cakes and more. She is able to create a design for any age, occasion or theme including weddings, showers, birthdays, and holidays. She told me "I love what I do and I am so grateful for my customers. The saying, 'You'll never work a day in your life if you do what you love' definitely applies to me. Not only am I passionate about creating cakes, but I'm passionate about my family so my business allows me the freedom to spend my time and energy with them." Well, her passion sure shows! The more I read about what she does and who she is, I can see why she stopped that day. Shelly has a beautiful heart and shares her heart with her family, her cakes, and everyone she meets. She has had serious challenges and profound loss in her life, but chooses to help others including donating a birthday cake monthly to children who are living at the Strong Foundation

Thank you Shelly for your kindness and compassion. I wish you continued success in your beautiful business and all the best to you and your family always.

Visit The Cake Fairy on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shellythecakefairy/ or email her at shellythecakefairy@gmail.com .

For curiosity sake, I can tell you after reporting it to police and my insurance company, the reason why the truck rushed off was because it wasn't registered to the driver. It was purchased 8 months ago at an auction from a commercial leasing company. They didn't register the car in their name, the plates were from the original owner, so they couldn't have had insurance either. It doesn't justify leaving the scene of an accident, but it does explain it. 

In Gratitude & Love,

Kerri Mulhern

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