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January 5, 2017

Six Years


I look back, and my heart cries over that twenty-three-year-old woman crying on the couch, drowning in the fuzzy, answerless diagnosis of Fibromyalgia and the helpless helplessness of a life doomed to pain, exhaustion, and misery. 

"Fibromyalgia" literally means "muscle pain." That's just a symptom. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome--that's just a symptom. How on earth did I not know that those diagnoses essentially meant nothing, that there had to be infections and viruses and toxins in my body manifesting in my multitudes of symptoms? How did I not know what is no-brainer knowledge to me now? 

Because that kind of thing is a secret. 


That's not how good little people think. We have all grown up in a society that has conditioned us to playing the role of the helpless victim when we need to be taught to play the role of the ruthless advocate, the capable hero in a battle we have every reason and advantage to win. It's just that those we have so dangerously come to trust the most won't tell us how.

That woman who had no idea her diagnoses were just names of symptoms, that she was sick for a reason, that there was healing in her future cried a lot. She lost years to a bogus diagnosis and trying all the ways to help that everyone said to try. And then she found out what was really wrong with her body and learned in the process that thousands and thousands of suffering people are so suffering for many of the same reasons. And that's why that girl who kept crying on the couch back then can't shut up about it all now. Because she learned secrets that flipped her upside-down life rightside-up again and better than it ever was before. And all the other people crying on their couches, drowning in a fog of bogus diagnoses and the helpless helplessness of a life doomed to unending misery need to know:

Healing is yours for the taking if you want it.


I cry over that girl now not so much because she was suffering but more so because she didn't even know she didn't know what was wrong. I thought I had the answer and was simply doing the best I could, the best that anyone could do in such a situation. But I was dead wrong--miraculously, hindsight-is-20/20-gut-wrenchingly wrong.


When I was a teenager, I had this distinct feeling that I would be sick one day. As bizarre as it sounds, you could say I almost saw it coming. But while I had the impression I would be sick in the somewhat distant future, I had no idea at all I would or could later be well one day--and on the way transformed to a completely different person.

Sometimes I have moments of seeing social media posts of mine or hearing my words to others on health and wellness from afar and do a mental double take. Because I distinctly remember Health class back in 2nd/3rd grade and beyond. It was dry, dull, and pointless, made up of food pyramids and admonitions to exercise. (Considering health textbooks are fueled by mainstream views, it's no wonder they didn't exactly light a fire in me to truly care, but I digress.) I had no motivation to care about my health, as most healthy people don't. And well into my twenties, "health" was this abstract, unimportant idea floating in the air, something we all know our whole lives to be important but most of us not really caring to know why. And "eating healthy" held an even less appealing connotation: lots of greens and vegetables with no flavor but filled with deprivation and hunger. If anyone really didn't care about health, it was me.

Funny how you have to lose something to learn what the fuss was about.

If I could change what that girl lying on the couch six years ago is sobbing over, I wouldn't. I wouldn't snap my fingers and make her healthy if I could. Because she would continue to be exactly the same as she was before: floating along in blissful, pill-popping, gluten-filled, sugar-coated ignorance until some other illness caught up with her.

I would not change the what. But I would change the how--I would tell her the truth, the truth that took me years to discover, that I never dreamed existed:

Healing is yours for the taking if you want it. 

 

December 6, 2016

🎉 Katya Valera is FIVE! 🎉


Well, she will be on Friday, December 9th! 🎉


I started Katya Valera on a whim about a year after I got sick, with a name that wasn't even close to Katya Valera, and I can't believe it's been five years.

While I'm still sick (but getting better), Katya Valera is still with me and going stronger than I ever (and, I modestly think, better than ever), and I am so grateful! This little business has been the happiest creative outlet for me while I'm unable to go get a "real job" (though let me tell you, I work, as I put it, "an awful lot for a sick person..."), and I would want to keep it going even if I were healthy.

Of course at this huge milestone, I couldn't go without a massive celebration, so that's what I'm doing! There are FIVE huge events happening all week long in my shop/on Instagram leading up to the big day, and trust me: you don't want to miss any of them!

First up is a giveaway of my most popular piece. I first made this necklace in 2012, and it sold at a jewelry party. I was so bummed it was gone so soon that I decided to make another to list on Etsy, and I've been making and relisting it ever since! 


I more recently added bronze and gold versions to the shop, and you can see them all in the shop right here. And! You can enter to win your choice of the three

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNnfbRqgJdZ/?taken-by=katyavalerajewelry

The giveaway is going on on Instagram and on Facebook, so be sure to enter both places for extra entries! It ends on December 9th--of course--at midnight EST.

The second of the five big events is a special OOAK IG Sale of 11 brand-new, one-of-a-kind pieces not in the shop. They're all posted onInstagram and are priced at at least 15% off! Be sure to take a look, because the sale ends tonight, December 6th, at midnight EST!

https://www.instagram.com/katyavalerajewelry/

And the next event ... I can't tell you about, silly! You'll have to keep an eye out on Instagram and Facebook for it tomorrow! Plus, there's still two more big events after that--so be sure to follow along so you don't miss out on the madness! (Because trust me, what's still coming is definitely some more madness.)
 
And as if this week weren't already special enough, this shop (and my other shop too) is featured in the most special gift guide at MoreThan Lyme

http://www.morethanlyme.org/stories/2016/11/29/the-more-than-lyme-holiday-gift-guide
I was so touched to be included with so many other business-running Lymies, and the intro is the most beautiful, accurate description of what we do that I've ever heard. Be sure to check it out and maybe take advantage of a coupon code you may find in there! 

Thank you so much to everyone who has shopped and followed Katya Valera over the years. I am so thankful she's still going and hope you'll continue to #shopsmall and follow along in the future. Happy celebrating! :)



November 17, 2016

Prints and Gift Sets: More Ways to Encourage + Giveaway!

This has been a long time coming--back in August with the official launch of the Streetlights at Midnight shop I said all the printables would soon be available as prints. And two months is soon in chronic illness language! :) So here we are: 5x7" tangible prints of all the quote printables in the shop are now available!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/481800353/inspirational-quote-tribal-motivation?ref=shop_home_active_23

https://www.etsy.com/listing/466403708/inspirational-encouragement-quote-print?ref=shop_home_active_29

https://www.etsy.com/listing/484366375/do-the-best-you-can-inspirational-quote?ref=shop_home_active_20

https://www.etsy.com/listing/468297792/faith-light-of-the-world-inspirational?ref=shop_home_active_15

https://www.etsy.com/listing/484180699/happy-and-blessed-ampersand-christian?ref=shop_home_active_7

Plus, this development brought some new designs with it too!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/487691651/so-much-hope-romans-1513-inspirational?ref=shop_home_active_2

https://www.etsy.com/listing/466407848/inspirational-encouraging-life-quote?ref=shop_home_active_27

https://www.etsy.com/listing/487689149/the-best-you-can-is-perfect?ref=shop_home_active_2

https://www.etsy.com/listing/473025424/keep-doing-what-youre-doing?ref=shop_home_active_4

https://www.etsy.com/listing/487692609/just-trust-psalm-628-inspirational-quote?ref=shop_home_active_1

These are just a handful (pretty literally!) of the many designs now available, covering the broad categories of faith, life, and love. Of course all of these are available as both prints and printables, and several are also available as greeting cards!

In addition to this exciting new facet of the shop, I've now also added themed three-print gift sets!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/489416305/encouragement-prints-gift-set-of-3?ref=shop_home_active_9

https://www.etsy.com/listing/489417673/christian-faith-bible-verses-prints-gift?ref=shop_home_active_6

https://www.etsy.com/listing/475918420/modern-life-christian-inspirational?ref=shop_home_active_4

https://www.etsy.com/listing/489418747/college-student-quote-prints-gift-set-of?ref=shop_home_active_3

There are eleven sets available, ranging from chronic illness-focused to a new student/graduation theme, and any would make a wonderful encouraging gift. Plus, bonus: you get the three at a discount!

AND NOW! To celebrate the long-awaited arrival of prints and gift sets (and help a lucky someone get a start on their Christmas shopping), I'm having a giveaway of one print set over on the Streetlights at Midnight Instagram page and also the Facebook page! So please take a minute to enter for your choice of one of the eleven print gift sets--you can enter at both or either places, and the giveaway ends Sunday night. So don't miss it, and be sure to share it with your friends!

And while you're waiting to hear if you're the winner ;) be sure to check out all the new prints (and printables and cards!) in the shop here and all the unique print gift sets here. Happy shopping!



November 14, 2016

Please Listen

My husband was awakened by me crying last night. Do you want to know why I was crying? Because sickness is hard. Even though I am getting better, I am still sick, and it is still hard. And you know what one of the hardest parts of being in such a place is?

Watching scads of people around me getting sick and doing nothing about it.


Okay, some think they're doing something about it. They're trying to eat more salads and drink less pop. Or they're trying to exercise a couple days a week. Or they're taking whatever pill is the latest bandaid their all-knowing doctor has chosen for whatever symptom(s) is the most annoying. Or they're doing nothing at all but expecting God to up and heal them and save them the trouble.

Or they actually are doing nothing about it. Because at the end of the day, health is not really that big of a deal. Definitely not worth such drastic measures as giving up the foods or habits they can't live without or making inconvenient lifestyle changes.

And this leaves me in tears.


Any of you reading this who know me at all, in person or online, know I'm sick. You've gathered I rarely leave the apartment and I frequently don't make it to church. You know I have that whole Etsy shop thing but I don't have a real job and supposedly am not able to get one. You know I've mentioned how making dinner and doing the dishes on the same day doesn't always happen, and when it does it's my big accomplishment for the day.

You know I am suffering. And you maybe don't know but surely can guess that the accumulation of all of the above does result in a kind of misery. I am getting better, and I know and trust that God is using this suffering for something bigger than I can see. But in the mundane everyday and in the face of the gifts I was given and am currently unable to use, in a marriage where I constantly struggle with how much I think I should be able to contribute and how little I actually can, in the grand scheme of seemingly everyone else's daily productivity and success in any area of life and my own pitiful contrasting amount, you could say I am a kind of miserable. Not because I am depressed, not because I don't have faith, but because chronic. illness. is. freaking. hard.

So I have to ask, how do you think sickness of this level starts?

It starts a little at a time. One infection. One gene mutation. One virus that lodges itself in you. One food allergy. One accident. All of those things? They happen. That is life. There are germs, there are sicknesses, there are gene mutations, there are accidents. But add them all together over the course of even just a childhood, and they can team up to wreak havoc on your body and take you down. Slowly.

Until one day your body has all it can take. And you? You become me. You are left with a B.A. you cannot use. Children you cannot take care of. A job you cannot get out of bed to get to. Gifts with no ability to use them. Dreams that seemed hard to reach while healthy but that are now laughable.

Am I trying to scare you? Yeah, I am. Because I'm starting to think that's the only way, besides prayer, I might get anyone's attention.


Here in my kind of misery, my tears, I am wishing, hoping, thinking surely all of you who are aware of my suffering and either seemingly healthy or just beginning to witness a decline would take me as an example. That you would think, "Gosh, I better nip this _____ in the bud now so I don't get as bad off as Kacie." But I have seen no one do anything that indicated such a thought process. I have seen the opposite.

Can you please do that, for me? Can you do me a favor and care about your own health, for your own good? Can you make my suffering worthwhile, use my body's breakdown as an example to you of what could happen and do everything in your power to prevent that?

Prior to the day my body had all it could take, I did not know any better. I knew none of this, so even in maddening retrospect, there is nothing I could have done to start truly taking care of my body and to find the treatment I am doing sooner than I did. And I did not know how valuable health was because I hadn't yet experienced the loss of it.


I now sit here, on the far side of health, seeing in all its blazing glory how valuable what I have lost is. How miraculous it is to be able to go to sleep when it's dark, get up in the morning, get yourself ready, go to work or take care of your kids all day. Go buy groceries, make dinner, and do the dishes. Dust and vacuum the house and clean the bathroom. Make plans for the weekend or your birthday or Thanksgiving like it's nothing. Because when you have health, that's what it is to you: nothing.

But when you lose it, you realize it was everything.


In my tears, from the bottom of my heart, I am begging you: make my suffering worth it. Take my broken body as an example. Remember this post, remember my words, remember my tears when you are crushed under yet another migraine. When no amount of salads are making you lose the weight. When your stomach is unexplainably upset yet again. When your cholesterol just won't go down. When you keep finding yourself anxious for no reason. When mysterious skin rashes just keep coming. When your brain isn't quite as sharp as it used to be. When you find yourself having to nap every chance you get. When your body aches and screams through another day of work.

Remember me. Realize what you stand to lose if you don't try to win now. Find out the root reason your body is rebelling in the way it is rebelling. It's just trying to get your attention, just like I am.

Please listen.

{If you need someone to point you in the right direction of health and cheer you on as you reach for it, I'm here. Please feel free to contact me.}


November 10, 2016

Introducing: the New KV Wishbox

In October I mentioned that this winding-down year still holds a lot more excitement at Katya Valera. First, as announced a few weeks ago, came the brand new fabric birthstone line featuring six personalized designs. (Which you should totally check out if you haven't!)

And now it's time for the next exciting announcement: the new development of KV Wishbox! While Katya Valera's box used to be seasonal, it's now a monthly subscription box and it works a bit more simply.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/KatyaValera?ref=listing-shop2-all-items-count&section_id=18340880

When choosing a Wishbox subscription (yep, there are options to fit every preference!) you get to wish for three things:

1- Subscription length: one month (great for just giving it a try!), three months, or six months.
2- Jewelry type: earrings, necklaces, or both.
3- Metal family: gold (can include shiny gold, matte gold, bronze, copper, etc.), silver (can include shiny silver, antiqued silver, gunmetal, black, etc.), or both.

And you get exactly what you wish for!

Each Wishbox goes out the first week of every month, and the cut-off for each box is the 20th of the previous month. So be sure to order by November 20th for your first box to go out the first week of December. Buuut since it's that time of year and any of the above options would make a wonderful Christmas gift, please feel free to let me know if you would rather your gift subscription start in January! :)


https://www.etsy.com/shop/KatyaValera?ref=listing-shop2-all-items-count&section_id=18340880

You'll receive one piece per box per month, and you get to keep every piece of jewelry you receive! Each piece will be a surprise and can be a brand new design not in the shop, a one-of-a-kind piece, a variation on a design currently in the shop, a piece currently in the shop, or a past piece. You never know!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/KatyaValera?ref=listing-shop2-all-items-count&section_id=18340880

Sound like fun for yourself or a special someone? Find the best subscription option for you right here in the shop.

And yes, there's still one more huge hurrah before the end of 2016: Katya Valera's 5th anniversary celebration! And we're really gonna celebrate--you don't want to miss the craziness that's in store! So be sure to follow along on Facebook and Instagram and keep an eye out the beginning of December!