It is with absolute gratitude and giddy excitement that I sit down to write these words to introduce you to a project my soul has been dreaming up for several years now.
Mindful Migraine; the original name of my Instagram page, turned lifestyle blog, turned passion for writing and sharing my journey — was a path I never expected for myself.
However, in my early 20’s, life began to throw curve ball after curve ball in my direction, and the plans I’d had for my healthy body, post-grad, began to slip through my fingers.
I became absorbed in the terrifying reality of existing in a body experiencing daily chronic pain that was unresponsive to typical medical interventions.
I was living with undiagnosed lyme disease, chronic migraine, gastroparesis and a host of other conditions related to these diagnoses — at the exact same time I was pushing myself to the brink of absolute physical and emotional deterioration in pursuit “getting my life on track” and entering the “real world” of “adulting”, as I’d always expected I would after college.
When my health declined so dramatically to the point that multiple members of my medical team urged me to take medical leave from my first full-time position so I could apply to Mayo Clinic to be evaluated there, the reality I had been trying to outrun caught up with me and I fell into a swirling, shame filled, groundless free-fall.
As my world began to move farther and farther from the “norms” my peers were living (and I so desperately felt should be achieving), I stumbled into the lonely terrain of chronic illness. Other than my grandfather who lived with MS, I didn’t know of anyone in my peer group who had traversed this desolate path. I felt like a disappointment and failure. I didn’t know how to wrap my head around the self-image I’d always aspired to, that of being a successful go-getter — and reconcile that with my new reality; a 20-something, too sick to work, to weak to even leave the house, maintain a social life or complete basic daily tasks that used to be effortless.
I felt a crushing isolation and intense confusion as I tried harder and harder to get “better” but continued to experience worsening symptoms. It felt like someone had snatched my life away from me.
Inside of that isolation, pain and fear, a small doorway cracked open and illuminated a sliver of light and hope. I felt a nudge from within to start an instagram page, and to name it @mindfulmigraine. My plan was to use it as a vision board to collect inspiration for my most difficult moments, and to try and connect with others my age going through a similar experience.
What I didn’t know then, was that in that exact moment, my soul was pulling me toward a path where I would find healing, well-being, community, support, love and acceptance.
I never could have known that in finding the courage to share my story, I would discover a voice within me that finds deep purpose and passion in helping others transform their experience of life’s challenges and navigate even the most devastating of circumstances with tender, unconditional grace and love.
As I continued to share on @mindfulmigraine, I promised myself that I would share honestly about the “trudge” section of my health journey. Some days, I’d feel such discouragement scrolling through my feed and seeing “full circle” healing stories, people who had moved from sickness to wellness and desperately wished for that to be my story too.
As happy as I was for others — it was easy to fall into a spiral of negative thinking. Wondering what I was doing wrong? Why my healing wasn’t progressing as quickly? What in the world I needed to do to finally “succeed” at “getting better”?
In sharing the vulnerable, raw truths of the “trudge” aspect of dealing with a stubborn and mystifying illness — I started to become more honest with myself than ever before.
I faced the hard truth that my “self-love” routine barely scraped the surface of “self-like” most days.
I committed to practicing mindfulness and, over time, saw clearly the reactive, panicked state I was spending the majority of my time living in. I took a firm, gentle look at which things in my day-to-day life were within my control, and which things weren’t — and I realized how much resistance and energy I was burning up fighting circumstances I didn’t have the power to change. I began to befriend my emotions, approaching joy and excitement with the same curiosity and compassion as fear and hopelessness.
A mindful approach to living with migraine, was, and is still, daily work.
But it is part of the work, not all of the work.
In endeavoring to navigate migraine with more mindfulness and presence, I have widened my perspective and intention to navigate my entire existence with those qualities as well.
To bring intention and kindness to my relationships. To become more skilled at witnessing my emotions without being swept into their currents; to respond with agility instead of reactivity. To walk through my days with unshakeable, resilient joy in my heart. To train my brain to seek out the good, more than it sees the “bad”.
And so, as this purpose and passion came into sharper view, so did expanding the name of this blog and my social media handles.
My entire being filled with warmth and excitement when I decided that I was going to embrace the new name “Mindful Natalie” and step more fully into who I am, and what I came here to do.
I can’t help but smile every single time I allow myself to dream fearlessly about what will come from this new space. It is one that will grow alongside me through all of my seasons. I am grateful to have the opportunity to continue sharing, growing and connecting in this way with all of you and to be able to do it in a way that lights up my soul so deeply.
In short, this “new me”, is really just a more complete “me”.
And I am so excited to be here.
I share each step along my road to wellness and healing and hope that in doing so I can inspire you along your own path. Thank you so much for being here.