Turning Straw Into Gold

Life through a Buddhist lens

Educating Loved Ones about Your Health During the Holidays

When the holidays arrive, we find ourselves expected to participate in a range of activities. The increase in activity exacerbates our physical symptoms, while coping with sadness, frustration, and maybe even guilt about our physical limitations gives rise to emotional pain. Read More

Using props to make my condition visible

Thank you, dear Toni, for your wise advice and insights - particularly re those who might never really understand.
My walking gets slower and slower, unpredictably. This becomes more of an issue for strangers at this busy time of the year when so many people are tired and frazzled.
When I have to go out to the shops, which involves crossing roads as well, I sometimes use my walking stick even when I don't really need it. That way, strangers have been 'signalled' that this pedestrian might be slow. I notice there's a much greater level of kindness and understanding from them, rather than nasty looks, screeching tires, yelled abuse etc. One dear elderly woman even blew me a kiss!

Hello Desney

Thank you so much for your kind comment. I have done that too -- used a cane when I don't need it. It's amazing how well people treated me. Little tricks of the trade I guess we could say. Warmly, Toni

Dearest Toni, another

Dearest Toni, another wonderful article as always.. great and helpful information.. I do completely understand what its like to have to walk out in the middle of dinner and just go lie down, when i first got ill before we knew what it was i had to do that one christmas.. everyone was fine with it because we always have dinner at home so that year it was just me,tom, his mom, his daughter, and that yr his two cousins and their kids came.. but they were ok they never even noticed i was gone, i told tom i was going to lie down and he knew what was wrong.. that was i think 6 yrs ago.. since then no one comes to dinner except this one older gentleman that for all intense purposes lives with us but he travels so much he lives out of his van because he is a fair vendor so hes always on the road looking for "shows'.. but he will be here for christmas as usual and he is completely understanding if i need to leave the table to lay down or something..tom and his daughter does most of the cooking, i help with what i can from my rocking chair at the table because of my oxygen.. but we have very quite, quaint dinners anymore with the good china and all, and we just love the peacefullness of it... sometimes my daughter and her girlfriend will come down or my youngest son will come up.. my daughter came up for thanksgiving this yr and she wouldn't let me get up from the table she waited on me hand and foot, i was having a bad day despite doing my damdest not to..but it was a great day and i'm sure christmas will be too..
have a happy holidays with you and yours.. much love and metta to all..
love, tina


Tina, your story inspired me... great example of the power of acceptance. Toni's post is outstanding, and I'm now experiencing the truth of the need to pace myself. After 3 weeks of more energy than usual, the setback has arrived. I'm practicing acceptance too, enjoying the peace and solitude of resting at home and eating more carefully. Blessings to all!

Dear Judith, thank you.. I

Dear Judith, thank you.. I hate when you get those good times then bam the bad ones hit ya like a brick wall again.. grrrr.. had more than my share of them in my life.. hope you are taking care of yourself now and getting your much deserved rest.. Blessings to you too... :)

Thank you so much Tina

I'm so glad that you found the information helpful. I'm glad you have quiet dinners. So do we. Just one friend is coming for Christmas dinner. I hope you have a lovely holiday. Love to you, Toni

Thanks Again, Toni and Others!

Great ideas here! Toni, excellent reminders for me to take care of myself. My brother's birthday is on Xmas and I'm in charge of his cake, which I can make ahead. I love to do it and I make a special, almost no carb cake because he's diabetic. But the frosting needs to be made 'last minute'. Last year I was so tired I couldn't stir it. My brother ended up making his own frosting (which he didn't mind at all) but I felt so guilty about, that I broke down into a puddle of tears and everyone got upset because I was so upset. This year I vow to have a whole new outlook on things. I know I may be too tired to participate as much as I'd like, and so be it. My family never gets upset, I put it all on myself.

Also, Desney, GREAT idea about the cane! I'll use mine at the train station so that it will be clear why I'm walking slowly to get to the train and the porters will not be waiting so impatiently for me, waiving me forward as if I'm just dawdling along for no reason. Brilliant idea!

And Tina, I've always loved how you and Tom have such a loving and supportive relationship. Such wonderful understanding you both have of each others needs. You are both so lucky :)

Mary, thank you and Happy

Mary, thank you and Happy Birthday to your brother.. he is very fortunate to have you to do that all for him.. and the cake sounds yummy.. you will have to send me the recipe, Tom is a diabetic and we watch our carbs because i have been borderline for 20+ yrs.. don't be so hard on yourself, it sounds like your family is a very understanding family of your situation and very compassionate of your needs... so you rest and take care of your self as much as you need to this holiday season.. don't over do it.. {{{BIG HUG}}}
love, Tina

Tina, I sent the recipe to

Tina, I sent the recipe to you via Facebook :)

Thanks Mary

I'm so glad you found it helpful. It's wonderful that you make a cake for your brother. I can make a pie for Thanksgiving because I do it a little bit at a time over several days.

Did you see that I told Desney that I've used a cane myself!

All my love,

Toni, I did see your comments

Toni, I did see your comments to Desney - We are such a creative bunch! It's great that we learn such good care of ourselves and can make our lives just a bit easier!



Thanks Bonnie

I know…I still, too, want to be in on everything. That's why I sometimes eavesdrop from my bedroom (remember my "Confession" article?!). Have a lovely holiday. Warmest wishes, Toni

So helpful!

This is brilliant Toni, as always. I think this time of year brings more pressure than any other (and maybe all the others put together). So, your deep insights and extremely practical, down-to-earth advice is invaluable. Thank you for this and thank you for being you :-). love rose

Thank you Rose

Yes, this time of year brings more pressure than any other. I know we'll both try to follow our Bruce Campbell advice and pace pace pace! Love to you, Toni

Late Xmas present to Toni

Just a note from me-getting better even after a bit of relapse and no I do not fully know why but want to say thanks for being there. May never be fully well which is harder to face given my face on the candy store window but best to you Toni-keep up what you do- hug.

This is good news from you Maggie

I'm so glad you're doing better. Thanks for your supportive words and all my best to you.


I think this can be used for

I think this can be used for any limitations not just physical ones. Many people have mental conditions that make it hard to be in crowds for extended periods of time. I have social anxiety and I don't feel myself in crowds.I constantly worry about doing and saying the wrong thing the wrong way. I go over in my head many times what I am going to say and how I am going to say it, which makes me worry more, which makes me think more and I feel like crawling out of my skin. It's a horrible feeling and comes off as me being bitchy when I finally decide to say or do something.Then everyone gets mad and it gets worse and I end up just wanting to leave.

Hello Heather

Yes, I agree that what I've written can be used for any limitations. Thank you so much for pointing that out. I think your comment will be of great help to others.

All my best to you and take good care of yourself,



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Toni Bernhard, J.D., is a former law professor at University of California at Davis. She wrote the award-winning How to Be Sick and, recently, How to Wake Up.


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