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October 24, 2017

New Me = New Blog

Now that there has been a huge change in my life, I've decided it's time for a new blog. You can now follow me over at The Hope Is Real, where I'll be sharing help, truth, and most of all hope, on topics from health to faith.

Thank you to everyone who has followed or read this blog at any point. It will remain, as I want its overflowing, years'-worth of posts to continue to be a resource to anyone who needs them (and I may even link to them sometimes if need be). I also plan to recycle a few of the posts from this blog that I feel really need to see the light of day again.

But now, The Hope Is Real. See the first post, which explains more about the blog's name and purpose, here.

August 22, 2017

The Signify Collection: Intentional Jewelry for the You That You Choose

Have you ever wondered where the name "Katya Valera" came from? This name actually has a lot of significance: it literally means "Healthy Kacie." 

Wait ... how? 

Well, in college I took two years of Russian and absolutely loved it, and I gained the nickname "Katya" from that class. And "Valera" means "healthy." 

So back in 2012 when this little business was even littler, it took on this name as an act of defiance in a sense: I was definitely not "Healthy Kacie" as I was pursuing this home-based business in the midst of chronic illness. But I would. be. healthy. Despite everything. 

Fast forward 5 1/2 years, and guess what? I am. I AM Katya Valera. 

As I shared last week, I am finding victory in my quest for health through God's gift of neuroplasticity, and I cannot keep this gift to myself. I want to share this tool for a better life with everyone so that they too can identify the changes they desire and make them happen.

I want to help YOU reach a place of victory through Katya Valera, through the pieces you find here, and specifically through this new collection, whether you are living with illness or not.

Let me tell you about this collection a bit more personally:


I am supremely excited that The Signify Collection is finally live in the shop--you can see all eight necklaces right here, and I hope you will take a look and see if a piece resonates with you and the changes you'd like to see in your life.

Calm. Confident. Energetic. Grateful. Healthy. Positive. Strong. Successful. It is all possible!

August 14, 2017

I Am Healthy: Where I Am Now and How I Got Here

This post has been nearly seven years coming. And it's still happening sooner than I thought it would.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you've probably noticed that things have drastically changed for me. But in case you've missed that, here's the short version:

I'm healthy, you guys! 


My life has transformed since March 20th (we'll get to that date in a minute), and I am now healthier than I was before I got sick in fall 2010.

I have gone from only being able to go to Sunday morning church about once or twice every couple months to my new default being every Sunday. I am now able to regularly do those mundane things I've gathered apparently every housewife loathes but that I've been longing to do since I got married: the dishes, the cooking, the cleaning.

Last month Daniel and I went to the beach with his family for a couple days. If you've been following my posts for a while, you may remember this post, which recounted how I spent most of our last such trip two years ago in our room. Not mentioned in that post was that of the two short times I went to the ocean, Daniel carried me back across the sand to the main road. Because walking on sand is hard, but especially when you're sick. But this time? There was no such carrying. And I played catch with Daniel and two of  my sisters-in-law for a looong time and ran briefly on the shore just because I could.

From our anniversary <3

So how did I get to this point? How did I go from a chronically ill, completely incapacitated person (circa 2012) to an improved, still-suffering hermit (circa 2016) to a new, thriving me (circa now)?

Well, the short answer is God. But here's the human tools He brought into my life for this purpose.


Back at the beginning of the year, I learned about a program that is based on the principle of neuroplasticity: the brain's ability to change itself. That program was the Dynamic Neural Retraining System (DNRS) which you can learn all about on its website here. The founder of DNRS did not make up this principle of neuroplasticity; neuroplasticity is just fact, like gravity. This particular program is an incredibly helpful framework to help you harness this brain capability specifically toward health.

When I first heard about DNRS, I looked it up briefly and just kept it in the back of my mind. But it kept resurfacing. I finally talked to a couple people who had done the program or were considering it, I read about it, I watched testimonials, and I really started considering it.

Now, I was at a point in my health journey that I had been improving steadily for two years of holistic treatments--just very slowly. I had in no way even begun to give up on those treatments, because they were working, and my periodic blood work continued to prove those changes, again and again. We were interested in this program for two reasons: that awesome blood work still was not quite translating into how I was doing day to day, and this program seemed to encompass a realm of health I had never even touched before.

With my holistic doctor's blessing, Daniel and I finally decided to order DNRS, even though it honestly seemed too simple or too good to be true. All of these people in the testimonials went from states far worse off than even mine and absolutely transformed to healthy, thriving, best-versions-of-themselves-ever. But still, it just made sense.

This program has two versions: an in-person workshop (which I did not do because no dates were anywhere near me) and an at-home DVD workshop. I started the program on March 20, 2017, the first day of spring. And that date will always go down as the day my life changed.

I started the DVDs, designed to take about four days, which explain neuroplasticity, how our brains are constantly changing regardless of our age, and that we can change our brains ourselves to our benefit. This program is based on the understanding that many illnesses are the result of a limbic system impairment caused by a traumatic brain injury. Now, I know when we hear "traumatic brain injury," we generally think of a car accident or a concussion or something obvious like that. But we can sustain traumatic brain injuries from anything severe like an illness, a chemical exposure, or a highly emotional event. And when a serious event results in a brain injury, it can send your brain's neural pathways--how your brain and therefore your body functions--into chaos, otherwise known as trauma loops. And those trauma loops can manifest in any number of ways: pain, anxiety, depression, food allergies, chemical sensitivities, POTS, PTSD, chronic fatigue, detoxification issues, unresolved infections and viruses, on and on and on. Basically, a state of chronic illness, with your body stuck in fight or flight mode, something I suspected I was stuck in before I even learned about this program. So basically, in the case of a limbic system impairment, it's possible for your blood work to come out great but the improvements to not quite translate to your day-to-day life because your brain is stuck in emergency mode.

And when the above happens, your brain literally becomes stuck in the rut of sickness-induced and sickness-fueling pathways--through no fault of your own.

This program helps you literally rewire your brain pathways from those pathways of illness to pathways of health, freeing your body of the state it's stuck in to transform it to the best that your body can be. 

It took me about a week to get through those DVDs (it was a lot of info!). Then came the hard part.

The next part of the program is six months of practice: allotting a set amount of time every day to actively rewiring your brain, along with constantly putting into practice all the things taught through the DVDs. This is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Because our brains like to take the paths of least resistance, and the pathways associated with years of sickness die hard and die slow. The neural pathways your brain is used to using are like a well-worn path in a thick forest. It's been traveled thousands of times, and your thoughts follow it on default. Rewiring your brain is like choosing a new path in the woods, overgrown and covered with trees, and taking that route. It's not easy, not even on the fifth or tenth time you go through it. But taking that path over and over will in time wear it down to an easy, default path, this time a path to health and well-being.

Your brain is capable of that, and you are capable of making that happen.


With that said, I would describe the first few days of this program as an uncomfortable relief. It was a relief because I was falling out of those old pathways of suffering, but it was uncomfortable because that is simply the nature of change.

However, I noticed a change in me the first night. A very subtle something had shifted.

Just a couple weeks into the program, I had my first jewelry fair since starting DNRS. There were soo many smells, like the Scentsy booth and people smoking and people's perfumes, and it was soo loud. All those things normally would have driven me to a physiological fog. And yet, while I was not completely unaffected by the strong smells and sounds going on, I was okay. I found myself having a lengthy, enthusiastic conversation with a new acquaintance and saw myself from afar for a split second, realizing how ... normal ... I was. And I could have cried.

In May, two months into the program, Daniel and I celebrated our 5th anniversary for a week at the beach. And that trip was unbelievable. We went to so many new places, like shopping and restaurants, we played on the beach, walked--and ran--on the beach at night, and rode the SkyWheel, a gigantic, enclosed Ferris wheel that came with a warning sign to not ride it if you're claustrophobic or have a chronic illness. I showed it! ;) That week I was a totally different person than I was at our last anniversary beach trip four years before, and even than I was, as you saw at the beginning of this post, with my in-laws two years ago.

And the improvements keep coming.

I am now almost to five months since I started this six-month program. I understandably still have improvements to come, and the longer I go, the more I realize that what I'm learning about neuroplasticity is a life-long change and not a set of months to be checked off. Sure, the changes will become easier as time goes on, but being conscious of my words and thoughts and making sure they are encouraging healthy brain pathways and not fueling the old pathways resulting from sickness will be a constant practice.

One huge thing I am constantly reminded of in this experience with neuroplasticity is that God made our brains this way


And His admonitions on the subject of neuroplasticity were right there in the Bible, right under our noses, all along. There isn't room in this post to expound on them all, but Romans 12:2 is a great place to start. Neuroplasticity isn't some fruity notion somebody dreamed up to make people feel better. This is a remarkable gift God equipped our bodies with, that so many people don't even know is there.

From the beginning of Creation, He knew He made our brains this way. And from the time I got sick He knew that this was going to be the missing puzzle piece to my health and that my life would change through this knowledge and this practice in ways I never could have expected.

I know many of you reading this aren't even sure what all symptoms I lived with for years before this, so I would ask that you please take a look at this post to see what my life used to be like. I realize this post is already a mile long, and I still have not said everything I wish to say on this topic, so I will try to condense some of the changes I have experienced over just five months here:

- The Lyme Disease (Babesia and Bartonella) have not shown up in my regular Field Control Therapy testing in months. Which means either it is now gone or is not affecting me. I'm claiming it is gone. :) (Yes, I have continued the FCT while doing DNRS, as there are still some toxins to eliminate and organs to support, though those needs are continuing to lessen!)
- My reactions to harsh sensory input are greatly lessened. Previously loud music or appliances popping (our fridge has problems) or multiple sounds going at once (like a neighbor's music going at the same time as construction outside) would result in headache, nausea, or basically physical panic. Now it's like the sensitivity dial has been turned down much closer to normal level.
- Similarly, I can carry on a conversation with someone while there are other loud noises going on around me, such as other people talking. This used to be a great struggle.
- I am happier. I'm now often experiencing this phenomenon called "happy tears." I wasn't familiar with those before.
- I am now much more positive. I didn't think I was a negative person before, but ... let's all laugh at that now. ;)
- I have actually uttered the words "I feel so good" more than once. That sentence was not really in my vocabulary before.
- I can handle phone calls like a boss. ;) Previously, situations such as phone calls, the prospect of making phone calls, having serious conversations, or seeing confrontational comments on social media would send my body into fight or flight mode, complete with racing heart, adrenaline rush, and shaking. My brain had wired such situations to such reactions. Now I have to stop and realize how easily I have been making phone calls. (I'm trying to find a good dentist right now, so currently making phone calls is practically my job.)
- I can now relax much easier than before.
- I can now focus on one thing at a time more easily than before, as opposed to always having to multi-task.
- I am mentally and physically calmer.
- I am in much less pain.
- I am stronger. For example, I can now open bottles that normally I had to have Daniel open. (And, no, I'm not exercising my arms. ;)
- I actually have this thing called energy. And stamina. Definitely didn't have those before. I realized the other day that when I get ready to go somewhere, my battery isn't running on low by the time we leave the house. I'm fine. 
- I don't have to lie down after taking a shower.
- I'm walking better than before. (Hadn't realized my walk was lacking until now.)
- Even my chiropractor could tell a difference in my body--and was amazed by my improvements to the point of tearing up--the first time I went after starting the program.
- My thoughts are clearer and I lose my train of thought much less.
- I sleep deeper and fall back asleep easier if I am startled awake.
- My actual dreams have changed. Previously, I basically had like six dreams I just rotated. Once I started this program, it's like I got a whole new set of dreams and now I dream brand new dreams all the time. It is such a relief.
- I'm able to eat foods I wasn't before.
- Daniel says my "aura" is different. :)
- My hug is different. I saw family in July for the first time since starting the program and quickly realized I was actually hugging them tightly—easily and spontaneously. Normally my hugs are light, bordering on air hugs. Do you know how much healing had to take place for something as mundane and involuntary as a hug to be transformed?
- I am just doing so much now. I was already doing a lot for a sick person with "no job" before while running two small businesses, but I have cranked up the productivity dial on both shops, while also being able to be a housewife. Plus, Daniel and I are finally now getting to explore our area, now that we've lived here for three years. I actually could consider getting a "real job" in the future.

"Wait, so how is all this happening because of changing your brain?" When your brain is working properly, the rest of your body will follow. 


It's getting to the point that I don't even notice some of these changes now. I'm reading through my notes of improvements over the past few months to write that list above, and so many of them that were a huge deal are basically my normal now, to the point I almost forgot how big they were. And that is crazy. Thankfully, I already knew that when I got better I would forget, so I'm glad I made this list a few years ago. I may get used to the new normal, but I will never truly forget. And I wouldn't want to.

This is the story that God has chosen for me. And it's far more mind-blowing and beautiful than I ever imagined. I can now see how God orchestrated that I would learn about this amazing gift at just the right time in my life, and every bit of the glory goes to Him.

I want to share the hope for healing--and a better life for everyone--found in God's gift of neuroplasticity with everyone I can. 


And I'll be sharing the first development in my quest to do that in just a few days! In the meantime, you can see peeks of what that is on Instagram and on Facebook.

If this whole idea of neuroplasticity is brand new to you (as it was to me!) I would highly suggest watching this video (please excuse the dated music--neuroplasticity isn't brand new!) and exploring the DNRS website.

I know how I have suffered. I know so many others are still suffering. And it kills me to see that suffering and know that it could be greatly helped. If you are living with any unresolved chronic health issue, large or small, from anxiety to MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity) to chronic pain to PTSD to food allergies, I am truly begging you to open your mind to neuroplasticity and specifically consider DNRS. And I am more than happy to do my best to answer any questions you may have; email me!

There is hope for healing. And it is so much closer than we ever dreamed.

June 22, 2017

When Life Goes Dark

What do you do when you find yourself suddenly in the dark? The lights go out and you're caught off guard. You're home alone, your phone is dead, and you're left to find your way around based on what you know about your home. Of course you rely on your memory of where things are: where they were in the light before it was dark. You rely on your knowledge of what was true when there was plenty of light to see by. 

So you stumble to your bedroom and feel for your bed, not worrying that maybe it's suddenly disappeared. And you lie down because it's safe and reliable, not afraid that it won't catch you this time even though it has every other time before. You also probably weren't worrying that it might have disappeared between the time you felt it and the moment you fell onto it simply because you can't see it.

You know that everything that was there in your home in the light—your clothes, your books, your prized possessions, everything—is still there even though you can't see them now. You have the proof of past experiences to boost your confidence, you know without even thinking about it that no one has broken in and taken your things since the lights went out, and you have faith that they have gone nowhere even though you can't see them right now.

You're also not wondering if, now that everything's dark, maybe you just imagined your clothes and books and prized possessions. You're not thinking that maybe you never even had a house to begin with. And you're definitely not thinking that maybe there never was this thing called "light."

We know better. We know nothing has really changed and that all darkness is temporary.

So why do we fear the worst about God when we come to a place of darkness? 

We have the knowledge that He was there in the light, we have the proof of past experiences of Him to boost our confidence, and we know no one and nothing is capable of hiding Him or much less taking Him away from us. And yet when life reaches a dark valley, our human instinct is fear and worry. Fear and worry that God has forsaken us, that He's mad at us, that He's preoccupied with other more important people or better Christians, or maybe that He simply doesn't care. That He has abandoned us in this place of suffering. Or maybe that He was never there at all.

And we find ourselves in this position of fear because darkness leaves us without simple proof of what we once knew so easily; it's easy to assume the best and trust what you cannot see with your own eyes when there's plenty of light to see everything else by. But darkness brings us face-to-face with the one supremely vital key for overcoming that fear: faith—believing in what you cannot see but what you know to be true. Even if at this point the darkness is so deep and the pain and suffering is so loud that you can neither feel nor hear the God you knew in the light.

Why do we do this? Why do we never doubt our beds' or possessions' continuing, unchanging existence when we cannot see them but err on the side of doubt when it comes to God? I think it's, simply, we all know that the value of possessions cannot be compared with the value of relationship with our God. And in the dark, we fear the loss of the most important thing in the world the most. We are mere humans with a tie to the God of the universe, and at the slightest hint that that tie could be threatened, we lose all sense of what we know is true out of fear of what is not.

And, as we are but human, that is understandable, in theory. But the theory is obliterated with one darkness-shrinking, fear-conquering, worry-soothing promise: 

And "never" has only the one meaning.

April 26, 2017

Rising Above Lyme | New Collaboration Line at Katya Valera

It's been a while since I've had big news to share about Katya Valera, and now for the first time, I have a collaboration to announce!

My dear fellow Lymie friend Kami Lingren of Living Grace created the phrase "Rising Above Lyme" last year and offered it on tshirts. Being the unpredictable creative that I am, the idea of making Rising Above Lyme jewelry lightning-striked through my brain one day, and I characteristically jumped right in and contacted her with my idea. She, thankfully, loved the idea, and thus began a good couple months of planning and work!

I ended up coming up with four necklace designs, each with their own customization options (expounded on below) and each also coming with an explanation of the RAL phrase, making them equally perfect to purchase for yourself or give as a gift.

Kami created the Rising Above Lyme phrase to inspire others on their own healing journey that their story doesn't have to center around a diagnosis.

"Rising Above" happens from our couches, our homes, and our interactions with others in that we simply say, "I will breathe in this moment. I will face another day. I will cherish this laughter, soak in that sunset, embrace another healing heart." For it's together, with linked arms, that we RISE.

Let's get to know each design!


The large frame necklace has three pattern options (the middle is my favorite because it's juicy ... like a lime ... and while I do not love Lyme, I do love lime, so...). Kami designed each of them!


You have your choice of either a silver or bronze frame on chain or a soft green cord. Plus, you can choose the length, so you're covered whether you prefer short or long necklaces.


There's also a teeny-tiny version!


The options are the same for this one, and it is offered at either 16" or 18". Of course if you'd prefer a different length, I can happily accommodate that on request.



While the first two necklaces are more obvious designs, this necklace is a symbolic take on the phrase, which makes it extra suited for those who wish to show support for a loved one living with Lyme with a more understated style.


The necklace features a sterling bar atop a frosted lime green glass bead, and they hang from your choice of silver plated or sterling silver chain at the length that you choose.


And here's what it looks like on a real, live person ... that happens to be Kami herself! :)


The fourth style is also very understated and elegant, making it extra versatile.


A vintage, lime wedge-style pendant is set in a silver frame that hangs from your choice of silver plated or sterling silver chain at the length that you choose. So dainty!


You can see all of the necklaces in my shop right here. Any of these necklaces would make a wonderful gift for anyone you know living with Lyme, made by two people who really get it. While Kami and I are both continuing to heal from Lyme, we will always remember the struggles of our hardest days and wish to help those who are similarly suffering.

To top off the excitement of this release, Kami and I are hosting an Instagram giveaway of the bar necklace and the winner's choice of a shirt from her brand new Living Grace shop! Be sure to check out her shop here for some awesome Rising Above Lyme shirts and tanks (plus another new design!), and be sure to enter the giveaway before it ends Friday night! 💚