Tonja and Duke modeling at a photography event this year. Thanks to Sara Leven for creating this fun picture!!!

From a Grateful Heart


I had a phenomenal day this past weekend. Duke and I hiked a bunch doing a family photo shoot at a beautiful private hiking area. I broke a sweat, which is something that I never am able to do.  The family had a great experience, and they will have amazing images!

It went great, I carried my NEW Monopod and camera all on my own, Jasøn and Arden carried the rest of the gear, loaded and unloaded and moved us to several locations for the family who had hired us.

We got home crawled into bed and rested for an hour before heading to our art show. Where Duke and I were on our feet, chatting, talking and socializing, we even took a good walk that evening. Thanks Helen for hosting, it was grand!

I didn’t sit to rest once, like I have had to do before regularly.

The weather shifted last night and the glory ended with a lovely migraine. But I couldn’t be happier!

Things that have contributed to my being able to do more: Isagenix® nutrition which I have used for the past five years, (this is not a commercial, but this started me on and has kept me on the path of becoming well). Thank you Joyce!!

Going Gluten Free about 4 years ago, and trying to root out other potential food problems last year I also went completely dairy free, I have been lactose free for about 20 years and soda free for 15, I have also tried going nut free, alcohol free (I don’t drink that much anyway), chocolate free, these things didn’t give me any benefit so they are back in.

This January I was feeling so horrible lethargic etc, the past year wasn’t a good experiment, so I needed to make this next change even bigger. I went Grain Free, Starch Free, and Sugar Free. I had to get the inflammation under control and my insides were a painful mess. It is basically a ketogenic diet, one that is common for seizure sufferers.  When you take foods out of your diet you need to also increase your vitamins and minerals.

Cleansing has also been key for me.  Last year I did it rarely, I still did my shakes once a day, but didn’t cleanse much, which was a mistake.  Since January that has gone on my to do list.  Now 7 months later I am seeing the fruits of my efforts unfold.  It takes a lot to detox a body that doesn’t deal with food, stress, and environmental factors well.  Another reason not to give up.  Most people give up when they aren’t seeing the results that they want as fast as they want..  Sometimes it is the slow and steady who win.  You are the weakest, most vulnerable and desperate the closer you are to the top of the mountain, don’t stop!  The peak is glorious, and going down is a thrill!

Everything I eat now is either a non starchy vegetable, or a meat. Fruit is kept to a minimum as well which means it is rarely eaten, tonight I made homemade strawberry almond milk with coconut manna ice cream.

I was so worried about how I felt in January, and I knew I had to really suck it up and be committed to more change. No it isn’t fun. But yesterday was!

The latest thing that has been helping is DoTerra Essential Oils, if someone would have told me that they could numb my pain areas I wouldn’t have believed them.

Lidocane patches didn’t touch it, tens couldn’t relive it.. go figure! This is why I always listen to friends and family who have ideas. I do take strong medications, I still do. But the oils have been a nice addition to my arsenal. Thank you Anna!!

My friends have led me to get properly diagnosed by the doctors. Thanks to Roseanne, I learned about gluten. Ruth told me about Ehlers Danlos, Lisa told me about MTHFR which confirmed my having to be gluten free.. the list goes on.

My doctors are fabulous, they support me, they listen, and they don’t ever look at me like they don’t believe me or even when my diagnosis couldn’t be confirmed until years later, they still realized I was on the right track even though their tests couldn’t confirm anything.

Without YOUR help! Getting around on my feet would have never happened! It is because of your donations, your realizing that I needed help and was worth your time and your money that I am able to be doing these things. You made yesterday possible! Duke has been the greatest independence gift! He loves helping me!! I love his help! So THANK YOU each of you who made this possible.

I have learned that three of the people who helped me get Duke have passed away, in their passing it makes me feel even more committed to living. Their graciousness lifts me up daily.

Domesti-Pup’s folks what more can I say but AWE!  I am in AWE of what you each do!  You are all angels training amazing Service Dogs!  To the Inmate Jonny who was able to expertly train Duke in 6 months, you’ve done something incredible for my life!  To Rebecca and Merri for testing Duke and selecting him.  Merri and Michele for training the inmates who train the dogs and training me, and to Michelle for going down the path and creating Domesti-Pups!  There are more of you I know!  I was trying to list all of your names, I don’t want you to be left out, but to make Duke possible for me it took an army.  Not only did I get Duke, but Jason Duke and I got another family!

My Domesti-Pups class mates, have inspired me taught me and accept me.  Which means the world.

Jason of course is always my hero, picking up all of the pieces, carrying and cleaning and just being fabulous at loving me.

Thank you to each of you for loving me believing in me and giving me the tools I need to become successful and live my best life.

I wanted to write this because, change is hard. I am not smarter or more powerful or stronger than anyone else. I am an average person who keeps her ears open and her heart open to receive the blessings being offered.

What does make me different is I love LIVING! Surviving has never been enough for me. Yes! I take risks. I push myself to do my very best, and I always try even when I fail. I pick myself up and get back at it.

I want you to know that if you never jump into the pool, fully commit, and hold yourself accountable that your life is not all that it could be. Whatever you do, give it your all, even when you have nothing left! I believe in you!

I’ll try to keep posting more updates.  I’ve gotten so much busier with my photography, for which I am truly grateful, it does mean that I don’t post as often but it doesn’t diminish the journey I have been on.  I realize that my life is quite the story.

Duke well, after yesterday, he’s been sleeping non stop.  Poor guy.  He really had a great time!  Tim even helped throw the ball for him when we ditched our art show for the dog park, and he walked clear to the other side where Duke decided to leave his pile and he cleaned it up.

I am so blessed.

For those of you who are going through challenges, my advise to you is to start telling your story, start becoming transparent, and start listening.  Because I listened to my friends, and I was willing to change my life is becoming extra ordinary.  I am differently abled and giving new meaning to disability.  Hiding what is going on for you creates a barrier, of course some families and friends will never get it. They just can’t see through their own pain.  But many people will want to stick by your side they are the best of the best!

I’d love to help you if you have questions, please contact me.  My friends helped me find my way. They shared things that may help me and always provide me with honesty and have my best interests at heart.

May your journey be courageous!

Tonja and Duke

Have you been to my photography site?  I just added a new post to my Blog Gallery!

I do have an Isagenix ordering website and a DoTerra one as well.  I love helping people too.  (yes I get a commission) Which is nice for me, but most importantly I get to help people be healthier, a fact that I truly appreciate from my friends who help me!  So just contact me.  I also think ketogenic eating is a golden opportunity.  The most important thing is to evaluate your situation and start moving in a direction that has potential.  Modern food is not designed for health I have found.  At least not my good health.

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