Reprinted & Adapted with Permission of, an excerpt of its Summer/Fall 2006 Newsletter
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EGGing Each Other On - Incitement to Insight. 

Written by Elly Brosius with Toni Marshall

Surprisingly powerful medicine was found with the habit of writing a list of 5 things to be thankful for. Debilitating illness became easier to live with! "Counting your blessings" is commonly practiced in many spiritual traditions, but I wasn't doing it. I was skeptical it could make any difference. At the time, no new drug, diet change or exercise appealed to me. Gratitude journaling was one more thing to work into my day, however, it required no exhausting trips, no one with whom to coordinate, and little expense. Regardless of outcome, I counted on learning something. 

Frustration, anger, and grief were using more of my energy than I realized. Underneath a pleasant facade, I wasn't as positive as I gave myself credit for. So called "bad days", the ones with extra symptoms or nothing that goes well, made it difficult to write things to be thankful for, but I persisted. Cultivating gratitude helped me accept my whole self. Writing grateful statements loosened the grip draining emotions had on me, freeing my spirit. My symptoms were still present, but handling life became easier. My language changed; I replaced "bad" with "difficult" when describing awful days. This led to my becoming more enjoyable company. Subsequently, I attracted more help and understanding. A more grateful frame of mind seemed to attract fresh ideas about treatment and draw new people into my life. I was happier more of the time. I found more meaning in suffering. Within a few months, I unexpectedly moved to a nicer home. Within a few years, I was ready for, and found, new medicine. 

Finding anything positive in devastating illness is challenging. After a long period of stressful illness, our thoughts, body sensations, and emotions may feel disconnected and at cross purposes. In order to help myself and others practice gratitude, I started a free discussion forum called Elly's Gratitude Group (EGG). Participants include people with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, orthostatic intolerance, MVP Syndrome and vulvodynia, gain experience identifying blessings by framing thoughts, feelings, and situations more constructively. What is seen within a picture is always influenced by its frame. Though it is valuable and necessary to discuss symptoms, treatments, and disability information at regular illness group meetings, many members crave something else.

EGG invites holistic consideration of mind/thinking, body/feeling, and soul/seeking as an avenue to move toward wellness. The goal is to increase, rather than diminish, energy by initiating and practicing new ways of self-talk as well as new ways of talking with each other. Members encourage each other to flip complaining or self-deprecating statements into neutral or uplifting ones, to pay attention to what's working well without diminishing the number, severity, or complexity of anyone's medical difficulties. 

Finding something positive coexisting with devastating illness takes practice! Being familiar with the shorthand language of life with our conditions, we get right to it. Egging each other on from incitement to insight, EGG provides a shell-ter where one is free to admit feeling scrambled, poached, cracked, or deviled. Surprisingly, incubating a gratitude attitude with companions is strong, fun medicine.

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