JRA.... Journal of a Radical Arthritis Chick

Here I give advice, speak of my experiences and give information to those who want to better understand Rheumatoid Arthritis. I am NOT a medical professional, and you should always seek advice from a doctor.

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Location: MA, United States

Hello everyone! I am 28 years old and was diagnosed with JRA (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis) when I was just 3 years old. I've had my battles with this disease over the years, and have decided to create a blog. I want to share my stories and adivce with other RA chicks, or anyone interested, to raise awareness and get insight from others. Feel free to comment/question me about anything. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Stones in Harmony -- Beautiful Jewelry by a Beautiful Woman

Elizabeth Wald is a beautiful courageous woman who suffers from RA, but she doesn't let that stop her!  She has created her own business making beautiful, custom jewelry for RA sufferers, or anyone who enjoys great, well-crafted bracelets, earrings or necklaces. A generous portion of her proceeds go directly to RA Chicks, the Arthritis Foundation and the Arthritis National Research Foundation. Her business is Stones In Harmony, please be sure to visit her website, or you can find her on Facebook.   She made me this beautiful bracelet, that I wear everyday.

I was able to have a wonderful chat with Lizzy - as she likes to be called by her friends - "but never LIZ" she adds, over the phone to discuss RA, her jewelry business and what it all means to her.  I am very grateful for her for giving me this wonderful opportunity, and help spread the word of RA awareness more! I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did. 

Here is the exclusive interview with Elizabeth:

Lizzy, When did you start Stones in Harmony, and what made you want to do this? 
I launched the actual business in 2008.  I was doing fitness training at the time. One year prior, when on vacation in Maine. I walked into a store with Native American jewelry, I found it to be very beautiful and soothing.  But the man working there picked up something was wrong.  I started crying and crying and realized I just couldn't take the physical pain anymore.  I got really inspired by the stones from the ocean.  I was in denial, I felt I needed this work to make me feel productive in society. And I knew what I had to do.  I knew this wasn't right. I was fighting something, the urge to become creative again.  The whole experience was fantastic.  I realized when I got back from Maine I had all these stones from the beach. I saw the beauty in them. 

You suffer from RA, how long ago were you diagnosed, and how does that affect your business?
I think I've had it all my life, looking back.  Pain started to be something that was a part of me.  Then it got so severe I knew I had to get help and see a doctor.  I was misdiagnosed 17 times.  I went to all these hand doctors because it started in my hands.  My hands were full of fluid and the doctor saw that it was not normal, and sent me to see a Rheumatologist. All the blood tests came back positive.  I was started on Enbrel and 4 days later felt better!

What do you mean, "you felt better"?
Basically I could turn the key in the door again, I could do military push ups on my hands instead of knuckles, and I didn't feel this intense pain all over my body.

How did you incorporate your RA to your jewelry?

I was at home, I was in a a lot of pain, I lost a lot of friendships because I wasn't well enough to go out anymore.  I adapted pretty well to being home bound.  I couldn't get enough of the stones and the colors. I felt like a kid in a candy store!  I'm sitting here at home, and nobody knows why, they think I'm mental or it's all in my head. I wasn't going to let this disease be in my head. I wanted to spill it out in any way that I could to the community.  If I'm at home, I thought at least I could put words and letters into my jewelry designs to raise awareness out there.  

How do you use your tools, while making the jewelry? 
I have taught the tools to do the work for me.  If I don't use my hands everyday they will freeze up.  Keep moving, don't freeze physically or emotionally. Keep moving. You can modify exercises to your fitness routine, and your lifestyle. The worst thing to do is sit on the couch and watch television all day.  Just get out and move and oxygenate. Go take a walk around the block and come back...that's it, all you have to do for the first day.  Then try a little more tomorrow.

You've been doing this for sometime, I saw your article in Health Monitor Magazine, how did you get involved with that? (you can read the article here)

The magazine called me from a story I must have submitted to them, but in my Fibro Fog, could not remember which one!  I would say that my most exciting opportunity this year, was getting my word out there to the world.  The reason why, is because I'm getting phone calls from women who are so alone and are in despair.  I then refer them to the FaceBook page RA Chicks, and it makes them so happy!  When I get a phone call or email, I always ask if they have support, and unanimously the answer is no. I refer them to RA Chicks and they have formed friendships that way.  It's important for women to know about this great site.  

Yes, I agree RA Chicks has been such a great a sense of relief, comfort, and has helped me form wonderful friendships!  Why did you get involved with RA Chicks?

This site, I want people to go here because once you're here, you'll never be alone again.  At all hours of the day and night, you'll have someone to talk to. Why did I get involved in this awareness jewelry?... because the woman that read about me get inspired to not let RA stop them in their tracks.  That's really what this is all about... raising awareness is key, but raising awareness that you're not alone is golden.  In this forum you can laugh until you cry, or cry until you laugh.  This is just so amazing to me to go on and see friends that I referred, comment and post.  Just to know that they don't have to go through what we went through for years of being alone is like striking gold, or hitting oil, whatever you want to call it. 

Where did the name Stones in Harmony, come from?

All of the gemstones I use for RA awareness have been documented over thousands of years to work as anti-rheumatic healing stones.  Aside from the colors purple and blue, the colors of RA and other RA diseases, these gemstones also have the  ability to boost the immune system and cleanse the organs of the body. Amazonite for example, is a calming and soothing gemstone to promote relaxation. Turquoise is known to be one of the strongest healing stones throughout history, boosting the immune system and ailing the pains of rheumatic disease.  It's not just the words, but the colors and the stones for what they are designated that helped me formulate this concept.  That's what the stones in harmony are... gemstones which in one way or another, have been used for thousands and thousands of years to bring the body back to harmony.  

What is something you'd like to see for the future of Stones in Harmony?

My dream is to be able to spread a global level of awareness.  I also want people to use the key words in the jewelry like RA and  Fibro.  I want the community to raise global awareness. World Arthritis Day, for example, needs to be promoted more.  All countries need to be involved in this awareness campaign. What I want to see, is for people to get inspired.  I want to inspire people, who now have a life change because they lost their job.  I would like my company to take part in all of the good things that can happen with people with RA, and let them know that it is not the end of your life.  It can actually be a brand new opportunity for your life.  Like with your writing, Mallory,... for them to draw on their internal talents and they utilize them with passion and love.  Give themselves something to wake up to.  I want to inspire people to write, to paint, to play the piano,  to do all of those things. Even if they are in pain... I want people to take a walk, to keep moving.  I want people to think, "yea okay this sucks, but this is an opportunity I didn't know I had". I want everyone to feel like that.

Lizzy, you are an inspiration.  Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to chat with me.  I agree we all need to keep moving, and to find our hidden talents and go forth with them.  I've taken my writing to a whole new level, and also have started my own photography business.  I have been out of work for a year, and was feeling lonely and depressed, that I was wasting my life away.  I've been given this opportunity to go forth with my talents and make something out of my life.  It brings me joy and happiness, and I only hope that others are inspired to do the same.  


Blogger Daisygirl said...

An amazing article about an inspiring woman! I agree that when our life circumstances change, we must not let them 'take away' our life; rather allow us to discover those talents we have the opportunity to discover! Elizabeth unique creations and your writing are two perfect examples of talents you now explore that not only bring you joy, they provide awareness to RA. Systemic pain, chronic nausea, crushing fatigue cannot be seen. The women with this disease, including myself, become 'pros' at putting on the 'happy face' with hair combed, makeup on, a brighter pair of earrings and a big smile, all the while our bodies are sobbing inside. We're on chemotherapy, but don't look like the typical cancer patient. If there’s an early meeting, we must get up 4 hours prior to leaving the house. We have trouble turning the key to start the car. I can't hold a coffee mug; I use a tea cup. Getting ready, I drop nearly every brush, eye shadow & mascara at least once. I have to decide ro wear pants or a jacket with buttons that day, based on how well my fingers work. Getting ready each morning is far from routine. After work, friends want to go to a movie and all you can think about is how many steps it is to your bed. RA does and will change your life. And now, through FB page RA Chicks, there are over 6,000 people, from all over the world who share their experiences, their successes, their frustrations and most importantly...their understanding. What to frustrates us all the most - That people just don't 'get it' because we don't look sick. In some cases due to severe medication side effects , I have lost 30 pounds so I have co-workers and friends tell how 'great I look'. In some ways, from the outside, I do look better than I have in 20 years. From the inside, I feel like my knees, feel and hands have been crushed or on fire, I have chronic nausea and insomnia and work at trying to keep a balanced emotional state. We cry at the drop of a hat and we're laugh the next minute. Living with RA is a challenge at best, though the key word is LIVING. We choose to LIVE with it and will. All the while, we will be discovering those hidden talents being brought to the surface, while we HATE RA for how we feel, in some ways we can be thankful for what it has helped us discover. The next step, as Elizabeth stated is to increase awareness. I wear a custom-made Stones in Harmony bracelet, every day. It's delicate and simple, made of pearls and crystals is a perfect 'conversation starter.' It was my first step in acceptance of my disease, 'claiming it' and not letting it claim me and professing my commitment to educate others, as well as offer support and encouragement to those with the same and/or similar autoimmune diseases. I will be starting an Arthritis/Autoimmune Disease Support Group at my family resource center next month. I’ve been the Executive Director for 15 years and away from 'direct services'. It's time step up to the podium and welcome RA into our lives as we all learn to LIVE with it and share that journey with others that 'get it.' We will help to educate our communities, our states and our nation, one group at a time. The Facebook Page, RA Chicks has connected 6,000 people from all over the world. The year 2011 is the year we will bring RA Awareness to the forefront and thank you for your part in making that happen. Information, support, publicity, shared experiences and stories are all key to make this happen. Remember, we LIVE with RA and we HOPE~ Hold On & Pray Expectantly. Mallory, thank you for a beautifully written article on Elizabeth Wald. She is an inspiration to many and I consider it an honor to be her friend, although several thousand miles separate us, we are simply a keyboard away from sharing good news, creating new projects and lifting each other up. All the things that friends do for each other and we share the common goal: Raising RA Awareness.
Warm regards ~ Daisygirl

December 19, 2010 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger maybeitsmallory said...

Thank you Daisy girl for taking the time to read this blog! I was so happy when Lizzy said she'd let me write a blog on her, and her beautiful work. She's such an inspiration to us all. I agree whole-heartedly with everything you have said. I hope 2011 is a great year for RA Awareness, it'd be so thrilling to finally see something be done about this. I can only hope that I can help in anyway that I can to do so. I get so sick of people telling me I look great, because I put a smile on my face and make myself look presentable (while taking so long to do so) and feeling like absoloute crap on the inside. We do learn to LIVE with our RA, otherwise, we're letting RA control and take over our lives. We need to keep moving, do things that make us happy, and take control of our lives for our selves. Here's to a Happy New Year for raising RA Awareness!!!

December 19, 2010 at 12:10 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth Wald said...

Daisy Girl, I had never noticed this comment and apologize for never having responded. Worse, I don't know your real name so I can't remember who you are. Thank you so much for your kind words and now, six years later I am reading about your award, 2016 twobrigthlights editor's choice Awards winner. Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!! I knew it! Daisy Girl, kindly let me know who you are as I know you and thank you again. ~Lizzy

February 24, 2016 at 3:09 AM  
Anonymous Elizabeth Wald said...

Ladies, you are all my inspiration because you are strong, kind and supportive women. I am now in Remission form RA. All because I believed. Hugs to all ~Lizzy xoxoxoxo

September 29, 2016 at 9:18 AM  

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