Essential Tremor Tips

If you have Essential Tremors, you probably have a few tips and tricks up your shaky sleeve, but I thought I’d share some of mine.

So, I’ve been posting about my health journey to inspire others to begin their own and I’d love to help you reach your health goals if you’d like someone (a coach) in your corner who’s been there.

Part of doing that means taking some selfies to post and show how my life has changed (and it has SOOOOO MUCH). Selfies are kind of hard when your hands shake but I have found a work around.

My first tip is to hold the thing requiring the most dexterity in your hand that is affected the least. For me, that’s my right hand and happily, I’m right handed. 😀

However, if I needed to do something with my right hand, I had a terrible time trying to hold the camera still and press the button so I enlisted the help of the 10 second delay. After setting the delay, you click the button to take the picture and wait the designated ten seconds. Just make sure you’re not shaking or it might turn out like this:

One way I was able to get a good picture with my left hand was to hold my arm as close to my body as possible, thereby giving it something to rest on. Since Essential Tremor is an action tremor and not a resting tremor, this works pretty well.

Ok. On to other tips I’ve found useful.

I’ve noticed that typing on a normal sized keyboard like on my laptop is a bit tricky, but not quite as difficult as typing on my iPhone or my iPad’s screen. However, if you get yourself a purple stylus, you increase your dexterity quite a lot. I guess it kind of fools your brain into thinking your finger is further away from its target thereby not increasing the rate of tremor.

The last tip I have is to use weighted utensils. I’ve been known to toss a salad on the floor and all over the counter so my daughter and son in law bought me a set of weighted utensils. Having the weight is a bit difficult to get used to at first, but it does weigh down your hand so it shakes less and keeps the olive on the spoon or fork from rolling off into your lap. Ask me how I know.

Got any Essential Tremor tips? Share.

Does your wedding dress still fit?

Mine does!

So our 34th wedding anniversary was on January 24th. After losing 36 lbs last year, I decided to take the dress out of the box to see if it still fit! I was about 103 when I first wore this dress and I’m about 111 now. I wasn’t entirely sure this was going to work, but after 34 years, I thought I’d give it a whirl!

To my utter amazement, I could get into it though I do fill it out just a tad differently than I first did. However, it’s not entirely a bad thing. 😀

Please excuse all the wrinkles (in the dress that is!), it has been through 34 years, survived eleven moves, and three states! And so have I!! ;D

My Silly Selfie Situation

Life Beyond Surviving was created to help those dealing with chronic illness or other chronic issues to deal with trials more productively by pointing them back to the joy that is often hidden inside the struggles. Part of seeing the light INside your tunnel is being able to see your difficulties as funny. Case in point:

This started off serious and quickly deteriorated into a giggle fit! So, I’ve had this outfit hanging up on the back of my closet to fit back into when I reached my goal weight. I’ve lost 36 lbs and found I could finally fit back into my jeans and size small purple flannel shirt.

I was trying to take a selfie—but things didn’t go according to plan. I have no real experience taking selfies so I stuck my iphone in my left hand so I could gesture with my right. I’m right handed and my left hand is afflicted with more of the Essential Tremors than my right. Gesturing with my left hand might have yielded some awkward results.

The following is what happened in chronological order.

By the end of this little activity, I was laughing so hard I was almost on the floor. I decided to post them as is and everyone on Facebook found it hilarious.

Clearly JoJo needs some selfie tips! Got any to share?

2021 Update on my weight loss/chronic illness journey

When I started my weight loss process, I was 152 lbs. For my 5′ nuthin’ frame and child sized appendages, that’s a LOT! I tried every diet known to mankind with zero results and I couldn’t do too much exercise being so tired I had to rest after taking a shower!

My mom said she plateaued before she was able to lose all her menopause weight and I found I had plateaued at 148 or so. That’s where I was for some time when (as you may remember) I had asked my doctor, who is trained in nutrition, what I should do. She suggested I limit myself to 1200 calories/day and was already at 900-1000 just eating what I usually ate. So, THAT didn’t help.

That’s when I got a health coach. She helped me tweak my eating and taught me how and what to eat for optimal weight loss (tailored to my own weird body along the way) and I was finally able to lose the weight.

My original goal was to reach my pre menopause weight of 115, but when I got there, I decided to see if I could try to get down a bit more. I’m currently maintaining a weight of about 112! I literally NEVER thought I’d see that number again on a scale I was standing on! But here I am!

I went from a size 8 to a size 2! My blood pressure went back down to my normal reading of just a tiny bit below the normal reading from being almost too high for my doctor’s comfort!

I went from taking three naps a day to NONE! And from having to rest after taking a shower and having to sit on a chair to blow dry my hair to not have a problem at all with this kind of task!

Turns out that not carrying around an extra 34 lbs makes a HUGE difference in my energy level! I had NO IDEA it would make that much of a difference. NONE! But it did!

Some other little odd victories:
1. I fit back into my daughter’s size 10/12 children’s t-shirt!

2. My engagement ring on my right ring finger spins around and the diamond is pointing to my palm most of the time. Something I had forgotten happened all the time in the winter. It’s sized correctly. It’s just that my knuckles are much thicker than the space under it for the ring. So it swings.

3. My wedding ring, which was always just a tad too big in the winter, again flies off at times.

One of the most difficult things about being this thin again is that it’s almost impossible to find size two pants in extra short! But what a lovely problem to have!

Overall, I’d have to say that I’m so excited to enter 2021 with less of me than I entered 2020 with! It not only makes me feel good to see myself in the mirror, but it makes me feel GOOD because I’m so much less fatigued!

Does Suffering Give Us Super Powers?

There is a line in the movie, Split, where the Beast says, “the broken are more evolved” and he spares the girl’s life because he tells her, “your heart is pure.

This got me thinking about how I believe there is strength in suffering. Struggles, trials, and suffering are abundant in this life. If we think of our struggles as JUST difficulties to get through or to avoid, we miss the lessons and strength they can give us–even here in this fallen world.

The psychiatrist in the movie says that she believes those with this disorder are stronger than others and she illustrates by saying some are blind, but one of their personalities is able to see. The Beast goes through certain things in the movie and doesn’t get hurt when he most certainly should have.

Of course, this is a movie and not real life. However, I’ve found that the different kind of strength spoken of in this movie is spoken of in the Bible and reflected in my own lifetime of experiences with chronic illness and other difficult situations.

I’ve shared this before, but it bears repeating here. I once had a mammogram technician ask me if I’d been through a lot of struggle in my life. I admitted I had and asked her why. She told me that she’d noticed that people who have been through a lot in their lives are much less vocal about the difficulties with the whole mammogram experience, are more empathetic, and tend to be more compassionate .

The movie, Split, shows us that suffering gives you super powers and I maintain it does! Just not the kind in the movie. And my belief is backed by scripture as I’ll get into in a minute. My purpose for sharing this is to help those of you who struggle with chronic issues, especially those who can’t see a purpose in it, so that you might have a change of perspective from victim (or just a survivor) to a more heroic picture of someone who moves beyond surviving to inspire and lift up others.

Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Here are some ways in which the Bible tells us we gain by suffering:

Empathy: 1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

1 Peter 4:10  “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

Strength of character: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5

Appreciation for Joy (and ability to find joy and humor in dark places): Galations 6:3 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Perseverance: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1:2-4

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12

I talked a little about this in the beginning of this blog post, but

Why is it that God allows some of us to struggle so with things? I believe these scriptures answer that quite eloquently:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” – 1 Peter 5:10

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

I believe that, ultimately, our sinful worldly existence will end and we’ll be with the Lord forever. Until then, our mission is to share the hope that is in Him and live by Galatians 5:14 “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.‘”

If we truly love others as we love ourselves, we will have some super powers of understanding if we allow all our struggles and trials to strengthen us.

…And I’m Still Writing!

Have you ever heard of people who were, say, an artist who lost her sight? Or a singer who lost his voice? Or an athlete who lost the use of his legs?

Sometimes, that talent or skill God gave you is tested or challenged by the difficulties here on earth. Sometimes that test isn’t something that can be overcome as much as changed in form.

That football player can find purpose in coaching young kids who don’t have a father figure in their home. That singer can find her music in a piano. That artist can find expression in the artistry that is dance. And sometimes that disability can be overcome to allow the artist to continue. That is what God has allowed me to do with my writing.

When I was a child, I loved writing. I wrote all the time, but I never let anyone read what I wrote for fear it wasn’t good enough. Truth be told, it wasn’t but I was only about nine when I started. With more encouragement, I might have begun to share my writing to reach more people much earlier in life. But, I did keep writing and I got better and more public with it each year.

I have often had to prolong my writing due to fatigue from various chronic illnesses, but it didn’t stop me from writing. It only delayed the finished products a bit, but I kept writing.

Later on when brain fog from insomnia made it hard to put two sentences together, I began writing one liners I call JoJoisms. One of my Facebook memories reminded me that:

JoJoism #493 “Being a writer with brain fog is easier when you write one liners. You only need to focus for a sentence or two!” JoJoisms: Revealing Life’s Truths…as I think of ‘em!

When I started writing my communication materials for Art of Eloquence, I had no idea how to get my books traditionally published so I decided to publish them on my own website! And then when I wasn’t able to print them myself, I found a local printer who only worked with large companies and talked them into taking me on at their same rates even though I was not printing nearly the amount they were used to dealing with. And I was still writing!

Self publishing meant I had to create my own website even though I was the quintessential NON Techie! It took me a while and many, MANY hours of a frustrating learning curve, but I taught myself how to create websites and update them as I needed. And I was still writing!

In my writing for Art of Eloquence, I was asked to speak at several online and offline events. I’ve been shouted down for my beliefs and what I write. I was even told by a public school administrator that she would buy my materials for the entire school district if I’d only, “take the God parts out.” I refused and was forced to work harder and longer to sell my materials mostly to Christian homeschoolers, but I was still writing!

After I broke my hand in a car accident, I had to retrain myself to type because my middle finger now crosses over my ring finger as I make a fist. Unfortunately, writing requires muscle memory and I had to retrain myself to put my middle finger a bit further right when I type. It took me about a year, but I’m still writing!

As I got older my fingers began aching as I typed. I learned I had arthritis and neuropathy compounded by fibro, but I powered through and took breaks when I needed to. And I was still writing!

The last several years has seen an increase in censorship of Christian conservatives as social media began shutting us down. I had a whole year when my Facebook fan pages were all effectively shut down, but I kept on writing on my personal wall and on my blogs. After I regained control of my pages, I am now sharing those posts on my respective fan pages again anyway!

Four years ago, I was granted a miracle in that I was a cancer survivor before even my surgeons knew I could have cancer. It was a rare and aggressive kind, but God allowed me to survive and I’m still writing!

A couple years ago, my hands began shaking more than just when I was hungry. I was diagnosed with Essential Tremors which makes typing, writing, and reading what I typed or wrote even harder. And I’m still writing!

When God gives you a passion for something, a talent for something, and then life throws you a curve ball, sometimes you pivot and find another way to satisfy your desire for that type of expression. And sometimes He gives you the perseverance and determination to find new ways to keep going.

That’s what the Lord did for me…And I’m still writing!

Christmas Makeover!

We had a special kind of fun this Christmas! Check this out!

So, after I lost a good portion of my menopause weight, my husband decided to give it a try.

He’s been overweight just about all his life. He’s tried a lot of things over the years, but nothing really worked long enough to make much difference and, as he got older, he had some trouble doing a lot of the exercises that had at least helped him when he was young.

I helped him to lose 56 pounds! Doesn’t he look fabulous?! I’ve known him for 39 years (since college) and this is the first time I’ve EVER seen him this thin!!!

So, we decided to have some fun on Christmas Day and recreated a picture of him from many years ago! (Last picture) 🥰

We gave ourselves the gift of health and fitness this Christmas. 🎄Our blood pressure is down and we have more energy. (Yes, even chronic illness me!)

A Pandemic Weight Loss Story

As is fitting for the end of 2020, I’m going out of this crazy year in true Life Beyond Surviving/JoJoisms style. So, here’s a funny story to help you ring in the new year:

Covid19 has added several terms we’d probably prefer never to hear again. However, as I read through some posts the other day, I realized that several of them could be related to weight loss and it would make for a funny story. 😂

Since I lost 33 lbs during this pandemic, I thought I’d found a creative way to tell my story, but Facebook only showed it to like 12 people. So, I’m sharing it elsewhere including here on my blog. Have a giggle on me!

A Pandemic Weight Loss Story

It was March of 2020. I’d been sheltering in place for several years at that point due to an outbreak of chronic illness. I had experienced an epidemic of weight gain since the underlying condition of menopause and it had spread to just about every part of me. The transmission rate was alarming and I was very antibody!

I remember sheltering in place during the incubation period when I happened to look in the mirror and just about needed a ventilator! It was then that I made a decision that it was essential, even while safe at home, to flatten the curve!

“We’re all in this together!” I declared to my community spread! For several months, I was in close contact with my health coach as I quarantined my unhealthy weight until my thighs began social distancing.

My symptoms have steadily decreased, my energy has improved and I’ve lived happily thin ever after!

Two Babes in a Manger

My pastor shared this story on Sunday. I tried to verify it, but some say it’s a true story. Others say it can’t be confirmed. The story is the same everywhere I looked, but the names of the missionaries are never revealed. It’s a great story either way so I’m going to share it because it has a great message.


Two Babes in a Manger

In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics (based on biblical principles) in the Russian public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments and a large orphanage. About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run program were in the orphanage. They relate the following story in their own words:


It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear, for the first time, the traditional story of Christmas. We told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger. Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp
every word.


Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. No colored paper was available in the city. Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel (cut from a worn-out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia), were used for the baby’s blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States.


The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help. All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat. He looked to be about 6-years-old and had finished his project. As I looked at the little boy’s manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger.


Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously.
For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately — until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger. Then Misha started to ad-lib.


He made up his own ending to the story as he said, “And when Mary laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn’t, because I didn’t have a gift to give him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift.”


So I asked Jesus, ‘If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?’ And Jesus told me, ‘If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.’ So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him’ — for always.”


As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him — for always.

And the Americans? They had learned the lesson they had come there to teach – that it is not what you have in your life, but who you have in your life that really counts. We should all give thanks for the people that “keep us” — in life — and for all of God’s many blessings to us: freedom from want, life, love, togetherness, and for the enduring love of Jesus Christ, the one person who keeps us warm and safe for always.