Embracing Conscious Living with a Disability

By Kristina Rhoades

To me, conscious living is about awareness and intention. It's the awareness that we have tremendous control over our own lives and the understanding that we are intimately connected to the world around us. Embracing these truths inspires us to make more intentional decisions when it comes to our personal health and happiness, our relationships and how we treat others, and even the way in which we impact the planet.

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Living consciously involves a lot of self-reflection and willingness to grow, even when it may get a little uncomfortable. I actually believe it's essential to our success and survival as individuals—and as the collective human race. It gives us the ability to make changes and solve problems.

For me, conscious living also puts me in the driver's seat of my life.

It motivates me to take responsibility for what I put in my body, for the thoughts that I think and to reduce the waste I contribute to the environment. It reminds me to live with love and compassion for myself and all things.

Making the Lifestyle Switch to a Healthier Environment

I've had a spinal cord injury since I was under a year old. By the time I was in my 20's, excessive antibiotic consumption had taken their toll on my gut and I struggled with chronic UTI's, shoulder pain and muscle spasms. Unhappy with the traditional treatments for my ailments and not willing to continue feeling bad, I embarked on my holistic wellness journey.

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I started by surrounding myself with knowledge and a team of people that were committed to my well-being. I sought out alternative health practitioners, including an acupuncturist, naturopath and personal trainer who supported me in my mission. They helped me identify areas in my life where I could make healthier decisions, including diet, fitness and reducing toxins and chemicals in my home and lifestyle. I began working with a life coach and learned to meditate and practice mindfulness.

In no time, I started feeling better—and I haven't stopped learning since. It's liberating to take this kind of control over your life.

Kristina Discovered Scary Chemicals in Her Home Products and Medical Supplies

I was shocked at how many foods and products in my home were loaded with toxins, chemicals, preservatives and just plain harmful substances. And while, as a society, I feel we're becoming more educated to look for these things in our food and drinks, we may not realize that the yucky stuff is also often found in products including soaps, lotions, make-up, perfume, cleaning products, candles and air-fresheners, and even feminine products and medical supplies!

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That's right, I learned that even the catheters I had been using all of my life contained chemicals that I had already been avoiding for years.

But, that's now a thing of the past. Thankfully, I discovered catheters made by Cure Medical—they aren't made with scary chemicals like DEHP, BPA or natural rubber latex. Now, with Cure, I can rest assured that I'm using medical products that I feel are best for my body.

In case you don't know, DEHP (Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate) is a chemical commonly used in traditional catheter manufacturing. The chemical is a plastic softener that is often used in the manufacturing process to make PVC more flexible.

For the last 15 years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned healthcare providers to use alternatives to DEHP-containing devices too. And since 1987, the state of California has listed DEHP on their Proposition 65 registry as a chemical known to cause cancer and known to cause reproductive harm in men.

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The health risk from DEHP is severe enough that the federal government has also removed and banned it from being used in children's toys due to the chemical's ability to be absorbed through the mouth and skin.  Learn more about the risks of DEHP here.

Did you know the incidence rate of bladder cancer in people who have spinal cord injury (SCI) is 16 to 28 times higher than that of the general population?

That's according to a research study published by model SCI center Craig Rehabilitation Hospital, and it's one of the main reasons why I choose not to use medical products that contain known carcinogens. Nearly all of us in the SCI community know someone who has had to fight bladder cancer, and I believe it's important to educate each other on ways to stay well.

Kristina Rhoades Shares Why She Chooses a Cure

I think it's also important to point out that when we use products with toxins, they're not just bad for us. At some point, we have to dispose of them, so we're putting those chemicals right back into the earth via landfills and our water supply. A huge part of living consciously is honoring our responsibility to future generations to care for this planet.

Luckily, there are healthier, more sustainable alternatives to all of these concerns. There is a movement happening around natural health and more products are available every day. High-quality essential oils, for example, can be a fantastic natural option for fragrance and supporting things like digestion, sleep, healthy skin, immune system and emotional well-being.

Kristina Rhoades Coaches Others on the Path for Conscious Living

I started "life coaching" in middle school when I became certified as a peer-counselor. My unique life experience had equipped me with some valuable tools to help people overcome challenges and improve courage and self-confidence. I was passionate, even then, about helping people through struggle by supporting their personal growth. By high school, I had been certified in suicide intervention, domestic violence counseling and later, I became a peer mentor at a disability resource center.

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What I found is that everyone is facing the same inner challenges, with or without a disability. People move through this life carrying a whole lot of fear, shame and blame—and the longer they're there, the more toxic they become. Sometimes, another person's nonjudgmental perspective is just what we need to recognize these things and begin to let go. From others, we can often discover beneficial therapies and learn to be kinder to ourselves. This is where a life coach comes in.

Once I experienced the vast, life-changing benefits of meditation, alternative wellness therapies and spiritual exploration—I knew that sharing it was all a part of my purpose to empower others. This was what all the experience and training and challenges had prepared me for.

A New Kind of Wellness Retreat – Accessible for All

My purpose finally became so strong that, about a year ago, my family and I took a huge leap of faith to pursue our dream of starting a totally accessible wellness center, Flower of Life. We left our homes and jobs and support system in Georgia to move to a brand-new community in the New Mexico desert—without knowing a single soul in the entire state.

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Flower of Life will offer services and facilitate retreats centered around holistic wellness therapies, meditation, activities for personal exploration and creativity, as well as animal therapy and connection to the natural world. The first retreat, an empowerment event for women in wheelchairs, will be in collaboration with PushLiving and will take place in Truth or Consequences, NM, this fall. More details to come soon!


How to Learn More about Conscious Living:

Meet Cure Medical Advocate Kristina Rhoades at the Los Angeles Abilities Expo in Booth #537!
If you or someone you know is interested in life coaching in the areas of personal and spiritual development, goal setting, law of attraction, leadership, holistic wellness or coping with injury, Kristina offers a free half hour session for introductions. To find out how you can support the Flower of Life retreat or stay informed about the fall event, visit Kristina's website at www.kristinarhoades.com or connect on Facebook (www.facebook.com/wellwithkristina) or Instagram (www.instagram.com/wellwithkristina).
Note: The information in this article is not to be construed as medical advice. Contact your physician for questions related to your personal health needs.


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