This week’s interview is with Natalie Sayre of Mindful Migraine. I first found Natalie’s blog when I was about 6 months into my chronic migraine journey and she was a little light and inspiration that my soul didn’t know it needed. Natalie’s messaging and mindset resonated with me so deeply. Following her health journey on social media has been inspiring, as well as helped me connect with others going through chronic illness.
Through her online voice she shares her real life, mindfulness tools, inspiration, humor, and talks with authenticity and vulnerability. She has been a constant source of support in this online community of chronic illness warriors.
With her recent diagnosis of lyme disease — she is fighting multiple chronic illnesses, and I’m grateful to have her share more about her health journey, so let’s dive in!
Hello Natalie, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your wellness journey?
Hi all, my name is Natalie, and I am the face behind @mindfulmigraine and the MMblog! I write and share on social media about wellness while living with chronic illness.
My early twenties have been riddled with debilitating pain and crumbling health, and I have found hope and inspiration by sharing my story and connecting with others in the same position. My health challenges have forced me to slow down, re-evaluate how I want to live my life and find ways to cope with things I cannot control. I have decided that in the face of chronic illness, I still want to find ways to show up for all the good the world has to offer.
I’ve found more peace and calm through mindfulness than any other treatment (so far) and love sharing about the power shifting your mindset can have while living with chronic illness.
What does healing look like to you?
“Healing” is a word that continues to evolve in meaning for me. Five years ago, I likely would have answered that healing is getting sick; and then getting better. But today, healing relates to so much more than being “sick” or “better”. Healing is about taking actionable steps to work towards wellness, both physical and emotional, in whatever your current circumstances are.
To me, emotional healing is an inseparable aspect of physical healing; and addressing both of those things together has become an absolute non-negotiable part of my process. My healing practices range from taking deep belly breaths throughout the day and short walks outside, to being my own advocate in doctors’ appointments, to learning how to say no without guilt, to finding effective ways to manage my pain…and so much more. Healing is all encompassing yet full of space and compassion and patience, a path that we walk as we find our happiest and most balanced selves.
Walk me through the process of how you find inspiration and decide what to talk about on Instagram.
Instagram has become one of the most sacred and special outlets of my life, and I truly look forward every single day to connecting with my #instafam – drawing so much courage and strength from the community that has formed around a page I started without any expectation. Each post comes authentically from whatever I am dealing with on that day. Some nights, I have an idea of what I want to post and say the next day, only wake up with a flare and feel completely unauthentic about posting whatever I had thought about just the night before.
I follow so many other accounts that lift me up and inspire me, that I have a deep library of saved images to scroll through and choose from to repost that fit just about any mood or circumstance.
In the past few months I’ve also had so much fun creating more original content (illustrations, graphics, images with words, photography) and sharing “real life” photos from my world. I never imagined doing so (and to be honest was very uncomfortable and at first!), but pushing past that fear has opened up the door for even more authentic connection and sharing.
I try to share from a relatable and authentic place, drawing insight from my experiences and hopefully adding value, inspiration and humor to the feeds of those who decide to follow along.
I’m a gratitude junkie. Can you share three things you’re grateful for right now?
I’m a self-proclaimed gratitude junkie too! Gratitude has been completely transformational for me, and truly allowed me to see my life and circumstances through a new lens. Cultivating the habit of seeing what is working, more than what isn’t has eased the pain of hard days and months and helped me to notice the light that pours through even through the tiniest sliver in a dark dark room. Three things I’m grateful for right now:
- My family and support system. So grateful to have people who care about what I am going through and who check on me and listen with an open heart. People who are willing to say, “this is overwhelming and confusing, and I might not have the answers, but I will hold your hand and sit with you while we wait to find them, as long as it takes”. The few people in my life who I can count on in this way bring me so much comfort, and I love them without any bounds.
- My home and a cozy restorative space to rest. I spend a lot of time at home, and one of my healing practices has been creating a space full of things that bring me joy, calm me down and help me relax. Soft lighting, clean clutter free rooms, cozy blankets, blackout curtains, photos of good moments in frames all over the place, candles and so much more. I love my little nest and am grateful for it every single day (even when I am confined in it due to health issues).
- My body, and all it does do for me. It’s so easy to focus on the problems my body presents. But every day, it does so much for me, that when I pause, I truly am grateful for. I’m grateful for legs that can carry me on walks, ears that can listen to audiobooks and podcasts, hands that can write letters to people I love, lungs that allow me to take big deep cleansing breaths, eyes that let me see sunsets and a brain that allows me to think and grow even if I’m stuck in bed.
What does your self-care routine look like?
My self-care routine changes every day and every week, as my symptoms are extremely variable. Some of the things I consistently do are gentle stretching, mindful breathing, meditation, walks with my dog, cooking nourishing food and practicing positive self-talk. On a daily basis, I carve out some time for mindful reflection. Whether that is meditation with the Calm app, doing mindful movement with the Yoga Wake Up app, putting one hand on my heart and the other on my belly first thing when I wake up and taking three deep breaths, dancing in my apartment and appreciating being alive or writing a gratitude list. These things are non-negotiable for me, and without them I feel ungrounded and my emotions can easily take over my thinking. Some days I devote a lot of time to these practices, and other days it’s just a few moments. On a larger scale, I have a practice of setting monthly intentions that fuels me and inspires me. I also listen to uplifting podcasts and audiobooks that help me cultivate the type of mindset I want to support the type of life I am trying to create. I try to have a list every day of at least a few things I have done to bring joy and peace into my world, no matter how small.
Is there anything you’re working on that you’re excited to tell us about?
I have some big plans for 2019 to grow and expand the MM blog and brand! Some ideas are still pre-heating in the idea oven, and others are in motion. But I am so excited for what this year has in store and to continue spreading awareness and encouraging those living with chronic illness that it is possible to live a life rooted in wellness despite facing health challenges.
Tell me your favorite…
Breathe deeply and courageously, and take one step after the other, because beyond the darkness, there is always light — Tamara Levitt, Calm app
Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow’. — Mary Anne Radmacher
Just do the next right thing one thing at a time. That’ll take you all the way home. — Glennon Doyle
I love and accept myself exactly as I am.
May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you feel safe. May you live with ease.
As I say yes to life, life says yes to me.
You Can Heal Your Life, Lousie Hay
Becoming, Michelle Obama
Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle
So hard to pick! A few favorites: The Balanced Blonde; Soul on Fire, Not by Accident, From the Heart; Conversations with Yoga Girl, Anna Faris Is Unqualified, Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, Terrible; Thanks for Asking, Serial
Mantra Wellness Magazine + Real Simple Magazine
Get Social with MM!
A message from Natalie: Please follow along and become part of our #instafam over on Instagram, and check out my website for more detailed blogs, resources and more. Thanks for reading!
This interview is part of Holistiq’s Wellness Warrior series – a celebration of those battling and surviving chronic illness with mindfulness, strength and encouragement to others.