Unrealized Dreams of a Chronic Fatigue Sufferer

Unrealized dreamAnyone else out there a dreamer?

I have so many big plans, and I’ve always been very conscious of making my life a good story. I’m “closing in on 30”, as my dad puts it. But, I have a countless number of goals. My head is always spinning with ideas – a centrifuge with no output.

When I grow up, I want to make a difference.

I want to be an adventurer.

I want to be an artist.

I want to be an author.

Six years ago, I could act on my dreams – on the plans that God had for me then. I’ve travelled. I wrote a little book. But now, everything is a blur because I have an invisible illness. My mind is a cloud, and I’m endlessly searching through that cloud for some release from brain fog so that I can get on with my life. I wake up each morning wanting to be normal again. Some days when I feel better, I find hope. I feel like I might be normal again. So I start dreaming.

I dream of keeping a meaningful blog going.

I desire to be an important part of our church.

I dream of being a speaker at a women’s retreat. At a youth camp.

I hope to open a women’s center. Soon.

I dream of running a café.

I yearn for the opportunity to teach underprivileged students.

I dream of being healthy enough to go hiking whenever my husband wants.

I dream a lot of things. And some aspects of what I dream get done. But, I need more help than I can say to do them. I need encouragement. I need grace from friends, family, and church members. And I feel ineffably thankful when I receive any affirmation at all. It keeps me going.

I want to be well. I don’t want to have CFS/ME anymore.

I want to be more than a dreamer.

I want to be an active character in my own life story.

Resolve Well: Soul


It is well,

It is well

with my soul.

The word “well” is one of those words that has many definitions. As a noun, dictionary.com defines the word as “a hole drilled or bored into the earth to obtain water, petroleum, natural gas, brine, or sulfur”. As a verb, “to rise, spring, or gush, as water from the earth or some other source”. The adverb “well” is defined as “in a good or satisfactory manner”. It can be used as an interjection or in idioms. And as an adjective, the word is defined as “in good health; sound in body and mind; satisfactory, pleasing, or good”. I’ve made the word “wellness” to mean, in my mind, something a little deeper than the word “healthy”. I want to be satisfied with my body, mind, and soul. But, I mainly want to be satisfied spiritually, soulfully. There is a depth that I crave which comes from inside of me. I want soul wellness this year.

Soul wellness is, to me, the easiest to attain and by far the most satisfying. It is the easiest because I believe in a God that gives me peace when I ask and direction when I call to him. It is the most satisfying because it is everlasting. One day my body will be rotting in the ground. I only have to take care of that part of me for a little while. I believe that my mind will one day be uncluttered and filled with freedom and truth.

I want to say every day that, “It is well with my soul”. That I am satisfied with whatever is going on in my life because there is a part of me that is eternal. What are ways that you can take care of that most important part of you this year?

Here is my list:


1)      Pray well.

  1. Pray more for other people – family, friends, and my church.
  2. Pray for help and guidance on my wellness journey.
  3. Pray for my husband and my marriage.

2)      Read well.

  1. Chronological Bible Reading.
  2. Combine Bible reading with art.
  3. Good literature.

3)      Listen well.

  1. Spend time listening to God’s soul.
  2. Listen to music that lifts my soul.
  3. Spend time doing art and listening to art’s stories.

Whether your focus is taking care of your body, your mind, or your soul this year, I hope you’ll join me in resolving well. Let me know what you’re doing to make your life better in 2017!



Resolve Well: Mind

Mind WellnessIt’s Wednesday! Still the first week of 2017, so if you’ve messed up on your diet, don’t you worry your pretty little head, ok? There’s still heaps of time to get it right! We’re talking about resolving well this year. No short term resolutions here. We want to make our lives better day by day, year by year. Monday, we looked at body wellness. Today, let’s talk about mind wellness.

The mind is something we don’t always thing about giving a facelift – but it is equally important for us to look after our thoughts, our dreams, and our brain’s health. Imagine if we applied anti-aging skincare to our mind – or if we touched up the blemishes of our brain with some foundation, brightening certain areas with eye shadow or mascara.

Take a minute to think about what you could be doing to contribute to wellness inside that head of yours.

For my mind to work, I need to have time with people as well as time alone. I need to make sure there isn’t clutter in my house because I know that clutters my brain, in a sense. I need to trade pessimism and lies that sneak into my thoughts for positive thinking and truth. Eating well and focusing on body wellness helps me with this. When I eat well and have a good amount of activity, I feel better in my mind. It’s easier to control my thoughts and change them into good thoughts.

Here are my personal focus points for mind wellness:


1)      Commune well.

  1. Have people over and enjoy playing hostess.
  2. Be involved in my church community.
  3. Treasure my “friend” time, and expand my friend circle.
  4. Find something to do in my community (art course, volunteer work, etc).

2)      Work well.

  1. De-clutter the house.
  2. Set up “my space” at a desk.
  3. Work at organization.

3)      Think well.

  1. Enjoy my times alone, setting aside time to refocus and meditate.
  2. Less Netflix, more writing.
  3. Switch negative thoughts for positive thinking, focusing on truth.

Mind Wellness GoalsThat’s it. I want to simplify my mind. There’s just too much clutter up there. Focusing on the world’s problems (or my own problems) won’t help me or others. I want to start clearing up those pimples on my brain, treating the problem. Here’s to mind wellness in 2017!


Arbonne & Wellness: Why I Do Arbonne

arbonneandwellnessI have signed up to be an Arbonne Independent Consultant after about ten years of tossing the idea over in my mind. There’s so much stigma about house parties and “pyramid schemes” – and I care too much about what people think of me to do something like this, generally. So, I could only sell a product that I love and believe in. I have loved and believed in Arbonne’s message and their products for such a long time. They are my very favourite skincare brand and what I would choose to put on my skin over any other company.

For the past five years, I have decided that I reallllly wanted to do Arbonne. It’s a great fit for me because I often can’t work normal hours, and I definitely can’t work every day right now. But, Arbonne hadn’t come to New Zealand. I would check every few months. When I checked last October, I was stoked to see that the company had branched out to our little country!

There are really just three reasons I’ve started as an Arbonne Independent Consultant, though there are far more reasons others have, including the great benefits program and opportunities for stay at home moms to work from home. For me, personally, I give you…

Three Reasons I Choose to Sell Arbonne


1)      To help my husband.


My husband is the best. We started dating just a little bit before my body crashed and I started my journey as a victim of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. One of the first reasons I knew I wanted to stay with him is that he told me I would never have to work if I couldn’t or if I didn’t want to.


So, obviously, I want to do everything I can to help such a wonderful, generous man. The money I make with Arbonne will, hopefully, help pay for little things – like bills, groceries, and medical expenses. I want to make his job as my husband easier by lightening his load.


I always pushed away ideas about money, but it’s true. Money is the root of all evils – some of which are stress and anxiety. We want our marriage to have as little stress on it as possible because we want a good marriage. And so… Arbonne.


2)      To take care of myself.


Part of taking care of myself is looking after my body. It looks different for me than for other people.happybirthday-2


My family, Mark, and I have spent a lot of money getting me to a place where I could work in the first place. Some of this was getting rid of toxins, cutting out sugar, dairy, and lowering my gluten intake. I was careful what I was putting in my body and what I put on my body – no cheap makeup with nasty ingredients like mineral oil, parabens, acetone, phthalates, chemical fragrances, petroleum, yucky animal fat, harmful chemicals, aluminum, mercury, etc. I even had/have special deodorant and toothpaste. I needed refined sugar-free foods, and dairy-free drinks – and now I’m having to watch my PH balance and my soy intake so that includes an extra set of stuff to watch out for.


It’s nice to have a brand that I trust not to put any of ingredients that harm me into their products. Arbonne is cruelty-free, certified vegan, gluten-free, and botanically based, so I never have to worry about there being something in their products that will be detrimental to my health. And, for someone like me that has to look at the ingredients in everything, that’s HUGE.


Because of this, my body can maintain a natural detox as long as I’m careful of the other food I put inside of me. Arbonne helps me take care of myself. And I need all the help I can get.


3)      To help others.


Obviously, when you find something beneficial to you, you want others to have it. So I sell Arbonne and help clients find the cheapest possible way of buying the most premium level of products. Arbonne is a generous company, and I want to be a generous person. I don’t want to work for a company that makes me feel like just a saleswoman.


I want to help teens struggling with acne by introducing them to the “Clear Future” skincare range.


I want to show mothers and grandmothers the incredible “RE-9 Advanced” anti-aging skincare collection – because looking tired and feeling tired can have a solution. I use these products now and they help me feel like I glow on the outside as much as I am glowing on the inside.


I want to tell college students about the FC5 Hydrating Cleanser & Freshener (a face wash and toner in one) so that they can feel energized and beautiful during test weeks. I used this line of products all through college.


I want women to pamper themselves occasionally by using the “Seasource Detox Spa” line at home.


I want all women to know that makeup needs to show your natural beauty! Arbonne “CC Cream”, “Got You Covered Mineral Foundation”, and/or “Perfecting Liquid Foundation” protect your face while showing your true beauty. I don’t want to feel caked-up and fake. I want people to see me, just without the redness caused by environment and allergies.


I want men and women to use the Nutrition line of products because they help me feel clean from the inside out. The protein powder is incredible tasting and helps me feel nourished and satisfied.


There are many, many ways to help others. Arbonne is just one of them for me – and one that is worthwhile because it helps me help myself first, and then spreads out from there to help others.

Like most men, my husband has been quite wary of this new business plan. We live in a very, very expensive city, where we live in a house with other people and have a one-person income for two people. So I wanted something I could do to help him out, working the hours I felt well.

His question keeps coming up: “Do you want this to be a hobby or a job?”

And I see his point. And I think his point reflects how much I love Arbonne and the Arbonne Opportunity. You see, I want it to be both. I want to wear the products and be an Arbonne consumer. But I love it so much that I want other people to use it. The products, filled with pure, safe, and beneficial ingredients, make me feel good. And feeling good, most of the time, a commodity. I just want that commodity every day. And I want others to have that same feeling I experience when I use the skincare products, put on the makeup, or eat the nutrition bars and drink the protein shakes. I’m not a greedy person. I don’t know how to make money and I don’t really know how to manage money, which is bad. But if I can make a little money sharing something I love with others, then that’s a good thing.

Resolve Well: Body

matthew-1AH! It’s the first day of the year!!! Have you joined the gym, yet? Have you lost those ten pounds?! Too soon? Well, you’re not working hard enough, yet.

Haha, just kidding. Remember this year that your resolutions take time. Your body doesn’t magically change and get rid of all that pie you ate at Christmas or all that wine you drank last night.

This year, we don’t just want to make the same ‘ole New Year’s Resolutions. We want to resolve well. We want lifestyle changes to start now and perfect for the rest of our lives, adding to them, revising and editing every New Year because we get this amazing opportunity for a fresh start. We want holistic change – body, mind, and soul.

As I’ve already told you, I have a plan. It took me a couple of weeks to develop, but right now I feel like I’m on top of this year. Today, I’ll share with you my “Resolve Well: Body” plan. I hope it’s pretty simple because both you and me tend to over-complicate life.

My motto for 2017 is “Be well”. I will repeat it as often as I need to. So, everything I do, I want to connect to that. So, under the BODY category of wellness, I have three goals:

Three Goals for Body Wellness


1)      Eat well.


Eating well is a very, very difficult thing for most of us, I would venture to say. It’s a complex task these days because we have so many options – and the easiest option is not the healthiest. I want to make my “food resolutions” to be simple. So, for me, to eat well means…


  • Eat often. 4-5x a day, depending on how late I wake up 😉
  • Focus on getting lots of protein, vegetables, and healthy fats.
  • Make healthy snacks to have in my bag when I get hungry!


2)      Do well.


Being active is almost as hard as eating well. If you’re like me, it’s soooooo hard to exercise! And when I can exercise, I just want to do something else (anything else, really). I reckon we have a very bad view of exercise (probably comes from middle school athletics). Exercise doesn’t have to be jogging or lifting weights. Though, if you enjoy that, then great! A couple of weeks ago, my husband said I could join a gym because he remembered I enjoyed it last I joined one. I chose one that has lots of classes – like yoga and pilates – because I like the classes. But more importantly, the gym I chose has a HOT POOL! And hot pools are way up there with my favourite things – like sloths and coffee. So when I go to the gym, I can listen to my favourite music or a book on tape to keep my mind away from how boring the treadmill is… and then I can wash off and go relax in the sauna or the spa.


Both my husband and I enjoy nature. So camping and hiking gets me outdoors and gets me quality time with my husband (contributing to mind wellness at the same time!). We also just got a kayak for Christmas! Talk about an arm workout! Being out on the sea or in the harbor is therapy on a different level (contributing to spirit wellness!). What?! I can multitask with wellness?! That’s awesome!!!


  • Gym 3-4x/week.
  • Be outside (hike, kayak, picnic).
  • Hydrate with activity.


3)      Clean well.


Confession. I hate showers. I don’t remember a time that I enjoyed them. Mom would wake me up and tell me I’d feel better if I showered. No. It’s soooo much work! You have to shampoo and rinse and condition and rinse and shave your legs and armpits with shaving cream and then use soap and then rinse out the conditioner hoping the knots in your hair come untangled and then you have to get out and be ineffably cold until your hair dries, which is a longer process with curly hair because it has to air dry after putting gel or mousse or both in it. I have to actually psych myself up to shower and that takes energy. Energy is a commodity. There have been times in the past five years that I haven’t been able to shower because I couldn’t get out of bed. If you have or know someone who has CFS/ME, you’ll know what I’m talking about. There have been other times when I had to choose between getting out of the house and showering because I had to decide which output of energy was most important that day.


Because this is my year of wellness, I want to dream big. And if I’m going to dream big, I need to set goals. Here they are:


  • Take all my medicine every day.
  • Use great products – like Arbonne, Origins, or New Zealand Eco products.
  • Keep my gut healthy so that my body will be follow suit.

I’ve signed up to be an Arbonne Independent Consultant, so I have a whole range of Nutrition, Skincare, Makeup, and Toiletries at my fingertips. I’m using these products for all of January, but most of what I’ve purchased will last me all year.


Whelp, there ya have it. I’ll leave you with a list of resources here to help you along with your “well” journey.

My Arbonne Page – www.ashleyruthstirling.arbonne.com

A Little Sanctuary Pinterest Board – Adrenal Fatigue/CFS

Arbonne & Wellness: Why I Do Arbonne Post

30 of Health Living & Beyond PDF – Arbonne International


Resolve Well: New Year’s 2017

Every year, we are given this amazing opportunity. We are given a fresh start. No, not everything is wiped clean. We still have to deal with the decisions we made last year. But the way the world is wired – that we have seasons and change and time and weeks and years – we get some fresh starts.

We’ve marketed this particular fresh start as New Year’s Resolutions. We resolve to be healthier, stronger, and just better than we were the year before.

And this is an admirable thing. Humans should always resolve to be better than the imperfect creatures that we are. It’s part of what makes us human and different. Goal-setting. Goal-reaching. Failing and getting back up again.

I want this year to be the year that I get well. I’ve been sick for such a long time, with varying degrees of chronic fatigue syndrome for five years, two months and counting.

I know that I don’t have much control over this illness, but I do know that I have to set goals and continue to strive for them in order to keep my mind and my soul healthy. My body might give out, but my optimism and my desire to get better should not. I can’t push myself the way other people can, but I can take care of my body and strive for wellness.

So I’ve come up with a plan through this brain fog I’ve had lately.

How to Decide on New Year's Resolutions

I resolve to strive for wellness: body, mind, and soul.

In effect, I want to take care of myself. Which is the hardest thing for me to do. Ironically, it is the only thing I have to do if I want to do anything else.

You can read my long story here in Pan Pilgrimage, a book I wrote while trying to figure out life after college. I discover the importance of taking care of me and why that is important to God’s plan for all of us.

Goals need specifics, so feel free to do this with me. Answer the question for you and your wellness:


1. What will help me achieve wellness in my body?

2. What will help me achieve wellness in my mind?

3. What will help me achieve wellness in my soul?

Keep your answers positive. I started writing down things like: 1) Don’t eat sugar. 2) Don’t think negative thoughts. But, then I was like, negativity is really bad for the mind, so I’d better switch it around. I need sooo many more positives than negatives to keep my mind healthy and well.

My goals became more like: 1) Make fun snacks like hummus and crackers for outings. 2) Be positive. I’ll share some with you next week!

For more on Body Wellness, click here!

I have keywords for the year. Spend time praying and have your own key words – maybe part of a verse that has stuck out to you in the past few days or weeks. I’m using “less noise”, “be well”, and “joy” right now.

Here’s to our new journey – our new year. Here’s to a fresh start.

Here’s to being well.