Radical self-care for activists in the time of Trump

I’m guilty! Lately, I have found myself spending hours online, reading, posting, tweeting. One night this week, I started working on actions for my activist group at 6:00pm. At 11:30pm (after I told myself I would go do some yoga stretches and go to bed at 10:00), I was still clicking between Facebook and Twitter, looking to see what fresh hell I had missed.

I’m concerned about the future of healthcare, for myself and my clients with chronic conditions. I’m concerned about the future of science and the research to find a cure for Parkinson’s and other diseases. I’m concerned about the future of education for my 10 month old granddaughter and others. I’m concerned about how trade barriers will affect my daughter and son-in-law and his parents who are farmers. I’m concerned about justice for my black and brown friends. I’m concerned about the lack of prosecution of sexual assault cases, especially with a self-admitted sexual-assaulter-in-chief. I’m concerned about families, like the ones I knew growing up in New Mexico and Texas, facing deportation when they are just trying to provide for their family. I’m concerned about my friends who are Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian who will be targeted for harassment and worse. I feel there is so much out of my control.

As I’m writing this, I know I need to finish and get onto my treadmill before I head out to work to take care of others. It’s hard. I have so much to say. I also know I’ve been experiencing more neck and shoulder pain, which is helped by exercise, yoga, and deep breathing. I have been experiencing more anxiety which is helped by the same methods. So I’m logging off. I can work on changing the things I can change. I can continue to help others. However, I have to take my own advice about caring for yourself so you can better take care of others.

I hope the blog below helps. Peace and hope to you all. ❤

Valerie Aurora's blog

[Content notes: disordered eating, exercise]

Like many of you, I’m struggling to take care of myself in the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. election. My friends and I are having stomach pain, trouble sleeping, difficulty staying focused on work, and many more signs of fear and stress. To add to it, as activists many of us feel a sense of urgency and obligation to act now, to push ourselves to our limits in an attempt to avert the coming disaster. I find myself thinking irrational thoughts, like “Maybe I should start sleeping less so I can write more. Do I really need to keep doing my physical therapy? Why bother keeping tax records when I’m worried about mass deportations?” Then my rational mind points out that it’s hard to write if I’m tired, or in pain, or having my tax returns audited.

This post is a collection of tips and…

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Are Body Positivity and Fitness Compatible? — BEAUTY REDEFINED

If you want to improve your body image, but you have trouble prioritizing regular exercise … join the club! Lexie and I (BR co-directors) decided this week to renew our dedication to fitness. Not the “getting a bikini body” or “get your body back” kind of fitness, but the improving strength and capability and “using our bodies as…

via Are Body Positivity and Fitness Compatible? — BEAUTY REDEFINED

We Can’t Unsee Your Ugliness Dani Mathers…Here’s Why


Although I’ve been ranting about this woman, Dani Mathers, and her actions, which hopefully will result in charges, on my personal Facebook page, I have to share my thoughts here as well.

This is NEVER ok. I don’t care if she claims she meant to just send it to a friend. Mean girls like Dani don’t understand how difficult it is for some people to have the courage to exercise in public, especially at a gym filled with women like Dani. This woman may be going through health issues such as cancer and exercise has been prescribed to her. She may be an exhausted working mom taking an hour to re-energize herself before she heads home after a full day of work. She may be struggling with depression and anxiety. She could be an unappreciated caregiver of a spouse or parent with Alzheimers. I could think of a endless list of reasons why she’s there. The bottom line is SHE’S THERE TAKING CARE OF HERSELF. She doesn’t deserve, nor does anyone else, this bullying. 

Women like Dani are why I hated junior high gym class, really junior high in general!  Women like this are also why I dedicated my Fitness career to helping those NOT like Dani. This article made me think about a woman that I consoled years ago when I worked at the YMCA. She was in her late 40s, overweight, and struggling with severe depression along with other chronic conditions. She had contacted me about personal training. 

As I was talking to her in my office, she kept looking nervously around the fitness room behind us. I asked her if she was OK and she began to cry. She told me how afraid she was to exercise in front of these people who were so fit. I told her that because it was 3:30 on a weekday afternoon, they gym was occupied with mostly high school kids. She commented how fit they were, which I replied, “They’re 16/17 years old girls. They don’t have full time jobs yet, they haven’t been pregnant and given birth to a child, they haven’t gone through menopause, or struggled with health issues. Please don’t compare yourself to them or any other woman in the gym. You’re here for you.” She smiled and we went on to discuss days and times for her to come where she wouldn’t initially feel intimidated. She left my office with a hug and a smile.

I think about her often, especially when I meet with other women who may have the same feelings she had that day. I think about her when I see rude, obnoxious behavior in a gym. I think about her and all of the women and men like her when I read a story like this. This model, Dani doesn’t have compassion for others.  She and women like her either can’t empathize, or they cover their own insecurities by making fun of others. They’re the typical bully, the mean girls, the ones I still don’t have time for even today. Unfortunately, they’re everywhere. They’re at your upscale gym or at the local rec center. They’re at your kids soccer game or dance class or at the PTA meeting. 

Don’t let these mean girls and bullies win. Be body proud, take care of yourself, go for a jog, a bike ride, or take a yoga class. These people will smother in their own ugliness. Let your beauty, the real beauty, shine through.

Medications for PD- the good & the bad : by Dr. De Leon

Thank you defeatParkinsons for this great post!


as we are in the beginning of Parkinson’s awareness month, I want to talk about the importance of self advocacy. However, this needs to be always done in conjunction with a team of medical professionals including ancillary profesionals like PT, OT,  ST, social workers, exercise team, dietitians, and counselors to get the best results.

This is never more important to now as we approach middle and enstages of PD…particularly when we begin to have dyskinesias…the biggest problem I see as a doctor is that patients often self medicate which usually leads to more dyskenesias, side effects, and increase risk for falls and hospitalization from a multitude of problems. Sometimes it may seem contra-intuitive to decrease medications when we feel Poorly…thus we need an expert to guide us. The challenge of maintaining  a well balance life with a balanced amount of medications is increasing in complexity thanks to so many new…

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Silly Stress

This past weekend, the University of Iowa Hawkeyes played for the Big 10 Championship against Michigan State.  I won’t get into the fact that I am not a football fan, nor the reasons why, which date back to my days growing up in Texas where football is right up there with religion and players practically are seen as sitting at the right hand of God.

Here in Iowa, we don’t have professional sports and our college teams, especially the Hawkeyes, are placed on a very high pedestal.  This has always bothered me. Not just the culture of football, which again I won’t get into the fact of players charged with drug and rape offenses with no more than a slap on the wrist. The fact is, these players are kids. They are 18, 19, 20 year-olds who aren’t even at the peak of brain development. Yet, we hold them to the same standard that we do a 32 year old NFL player who is making millions of dollars a year.

Now to my subject of stress.  I admit I watched the game.  It was a very close and evenly matched game. The University of Iowa came into the championship game with a perfect record, following previous seasons that would have most likely cost the Athletic Director and the head coach (who happens to be the highest paid state employee, but again I won’t get into that) their jobs if this season wouldn’t have turned around.  Iowa lost in the last few seconds after several very determined attempts by Michigan State to score a touchdown.  When the game was over and the television cameras showed the tear-streaked faces of the Iowa players, my thought again was, “these are just kids”.  It took me back to the days when my now grown daughter played high school softball and the heartbreak and tears after a tough loss.  It broke my heart to see her cry.  It is a character builder, these sports.  They teach us that sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.  It hurts to lose, but when we lose, life goes on and we work for the next opportunity.

The day after the Big Ten Championship loss, there was an air of sadness in Iowa City.  People looked depressed, heartbroken. Many people I talked to mentioned the knots in their stomach, the stress, or how sad they felt when the Hawkeyes lost.  I understand the disappointment when our team loses, but we are letting a game, played by 18, 19, 20 year old college student athletes, affect our health and well-being?  I sure hope not!

I admit that I have lost sleep the past few weeks about things out of my control.  The bombings in Paris, the attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, the slaughter at a company holiday gathering in California, the knife attack in London, so many more that never made the news headlines.  I think about the husbands, wives, daughters, sons, mothers, and fathers who will never come home again.  I think about the hesitation that many feel about even going to the mall this holiday season, fearing someone with a gun and a grudge will be there to take their anger out on innocent people.

Although I feel empathy for the Iowa players after their difficult loss to Michigan State, it isn’t like the loss felt by the victims’ families after tragic events.  There will be another game.  As fans, we will continue to cheer on the team.  Football will be over and hopefully these players have prepared for their real life careers.  Life goes on and we work for the next opportunity.  There is no next opportunity for the victims of senseless violence, whether it is isolated gun violence or a terrorist attack.  That puts a knot in my stomach and saddens me.  That is a loss that cannot be recovered in the next season. Yes, life still goes on and we can’t let it affect our daily lives.  Although I think in a way, it still does. That is not “silly” stress.