Note: For the fullest experience, I recommend listening to the podcast, as the audio version always contains additional comments and tangents not found in the blog post version.

CSW 171: My Painful Wake-Up CallPeople who know me often tell me that I have a lot of energy.

“You’re like the Energizer Bunny!” they say. “How do you get so much done?”

But that’s what it looks like from the outside.

And that’s when things are normal.

And things have definitely not been normal lately.

What you don’t know is that for the past month, with I believe three exceptions, I have had a migraine, or at least the start of migraine symptoms, every single day.

Now, I should clarify what that means. My migraines typically are not of the out-to-the-world-for-24-hours-vomiting-and-having-to-go-to-the-ER variety. Thank goodness.

My husband gets those.

I’m generally more functional at first, and then “just” in pain and somewhat nauseated… if I catch it early enough.

(If I don’t, then life is hell for 24+ hours.)

But I’m definitely not fully functional, I’m miserable. And I’ve spent many hours this past month lying on the couch, trying to nap off a migraine. Instead of being productive!

I also woke up with a migraine once (those are the worst).

And basically, I’ve been living in a constant state of anxiety, wondering when the next migraine is going to strike. 

Because they’ve been striking daily!

Now, when I’m working at home, this is seriously annoying, but on most days it’s not a total disaster if I have to take the afternoon off. I mean, it’s not ideal, but it’s not going to cause serious damage to my business, unless I’m running a webinar or something.

(As I happened to be doing twice yesterday — I was hosting sample ClutterBusting sessions for the re-opening of my Creative Sandbox Community! Which, btw, is open to new members through Friday morning only. We’re kicking off with three weeks of clutterbusting, to make space to create! Go to to join.)

However, if I’m leading a corporate training or workshop, or giving a speech, you can see how getting a migraine would be seriously devastating.

I simply cannot have the threat of a migraine hanging over me like that.

And daily migraines? That just has to stop!

Now, I didn’t call the doctor, because in my experience, I haven’t been so thrilled with the MD approach to migraines. It’s just limited.

Drugs. (I’m already on drugs.)

Other drugs. (Check!)

Stronger drugs.

And oh, yeah — when all else fails, we can try Botox!

Um, no thank you. Did you know that paralyzing the muscles that enable you to create expressions on your face also prevent you from feeling the emotions that those expressions express?

Like empathy. According to some studies, as quoted in this Psychology Today article, women who have been Botoxed lose the ability to feel empathy!

[In one study,] when subjects consciously imitated angry or sad expressions they saw in photographs, Botoxed subjects showed less brain scan activity in key regions for emotion than a comparison un-Botoxed group.

I don’t want to cut off my ability to feel empathy!

So, anyway, I got desperate.

And it turns out that I happen to know a Master Herbalist, Lisa Akers, because we are both in a mastermind group inside CoCommercial, an online social network for small business owners.

I’d been interested in working with Lisa for awhile, because I know her, and also because she’s a full-time spaceship builder (aka a real-life rocket scientist!) in addition to being an herbalist, so she brings to her work a scientific approach and an amazing ability to connect dots.

I filled out a form to do a Wellness Launchpad Session with her, and she had me fill out a lengthy questionnaire, watch a short video, and read some materials.

Then she got back to me with her recommendations.

The upshot?

I have a sensitive brain.

This I already knew from reading The Migraine Brain, by Carolyn Bernstein, M.D. (aff link, or click here for a non affiliate link) many years ago. (Highly recommended!)

Basically, lots of things can act as migraine triggers, and each migraine sufferer has a certain tolerance level. Like a bucket, that can only hold so much. When your bucket gets full to overflowing, that’s when you get a migraine.

It’s not like there’s one silver bullet that you can fix things, it’s a matter of doing several things to lighten the trigger load on your sensitive brain.

So Lisa had several suggestions.

The first of which honestly really pissed me off!

She thinks — and I agree with her — that these daily headaches are actually rebound headaches. That my brain is hyper sensitized to all the abortive drugs and prophylactic drugs I’ve been taking (out of desperation), and it’s rebounding, by creating more headaches.

So the first thing to do is to interrupt that cycle. And her recommendation is to rest my brain.

By not using it.

As in no screens. No reading. No CREATING!!!!

Basically just allowing myself to exist for a day. Or a half day. Or even a couple of hours, for goodness sake.

And my reaction was basically, “Oh, stuff it!”

Except the more explicit version of that…



That’s like torture for me!

But a MONTH of migraines is really a wake-up call.

I mean, if anything is a wake-up call, a month of migraines is it.


That very evening, after swearing at Lisa in a Marco Polo message (I’m ashamed to say), I tried resting my brain.

I didn’t look at my phone.

When my husband tried to show me funny videos, I told him I was trying to avoid screentime.

I even moved the salt and pepper shaker away from me, so I wouldn’t read the text on the labels!

It was hard.

But you know what? It was also kind of nice.

I could feel that my brain appreciated it.

And although it may very well have been a coincidence, I did not get a migraine the next day!!! 

I did get one the day after that, but hey, one day at a time.

And although I’d like to report that I’ve had multiple days of long chunks of no screen time and no reading and lots of resting my brain, alas, I’ve been in the middle of re-opening the Creative Sandbox Community, with two webinars and so much computer work I want to scream.

So no such luck.


What I can say is that my experience the other day was a good reminder of what part of me already knew: I need “brain rest time.”

I have not been giving myself that. At all. And I need it.

As Lisa said, it doesn’t have to be lying in bed (although it can be). It can be hiking. Or biking. Climbing. Active things.

Or napping on the couch with my kitty. That works, too.

And in general, avoiding screens feels better on my brain, which isn’t the exactly prescription Lisa gave me, but it’s good to notice.

So I’m sharing all of this with you, because all of this is really my Golden Formula, right?

Self-awareness + self-compassion = the key to everything good.

When we don’t have the self-awareness, and the self-compassion to apply what our awareness tells us, then bad things happen.

Like a month of daily migraines.

And that’s when we need a wake-up call. Like my irritating-but-necessary suggestions from Lisa.

So before things get bad in your own life, take a look around. What needs to change? What can you improve?

What’s the thing that’s niggling at you?

Honestly, it’s been niggling at me for a long time that I really ought to limit my screen time, take more breaks.

But it took a month of migraines for me to actually do something about it.

Something Cool

Lisa Akers’ free resources! Sign up on her mailing list, and get access to a page that’s overflowing with tools, resources, webinars & videos, assessments, discounted supplements & herbal products, and more.



Calling all Silicon Valley Artists, Writers, Crafters, and Those Who Wish They Were! Join me for Creative Sandbox Playday in Palo Alto, CA on Sunday, August 5th!


Creative Sandbox Playday hosted by Melissa Dinwiddie

It’s basically like the “day camp version” of my Creative Sandbox Retreat, which I’ve been running for coming up on 6 years now. Where the retreat is 5 days and 4 nights, the playday is a half day.

And it’s only $25!

We’ll scare the gremlins away, laugh, and create in community.

Work on a creative project of your own, start a new one, or play with my art supplies. We’ll play in the Creative Sandbox together and have FUN!



Listeners Wanted!

Has the Creative Sandbox Way™ podcast made a difference in your life? Would you like to be featured on the podcast?

I love sharing listener stories, so if you have a story of how listening to the podcast has changed your life for the better in some way — big or small — I want to feature you in a Listener Spotlight.

Here’s how it works:

1. Just log into iTunes/the Apple Podcast Player and leave a rating and review. (If you don’t know how to do that, you’ll find step-by-step instructions at

2. Then copy and paste what you wrote in your review into an email, and send it to me, along with why you want to be featured in a Listener Spotlight. How has the podcast made a difference in your life? You can email me at

That’s it!

If I pick you for a Listener Spotlight, we’ll have a relaxed, fun conversation, and the recording of our conversation will be part of a future episode! How cool is that?

Want a creative kick start?
Check out my book!

The Creative Sandbox Way: Your Path to a Full-Color Life, by Melissa Dinwiddie

What would change for you if you could totally revel in the joy of creating? You CAN, with The Creative Sandbox Way!

You’ll learn:

  • Melissa’s 10 fool-proof guideposts that have helped thousands get joyfully creating.
  • 5 reasons why creative play is good for you, AND for the world (it’s neuroscience, baby!)
  • Why “I’m not creative” is always a lie, and how to bust it.
  • How to turn creative blocks into friends.

AND you’ll get creating right in the book itself. 

ChrisGuillebeau“It’s one part field guide, one part creative practice—and I loved it. The Creative Sandbox Way is an adventure packaged as a book.”

~Chris Guillebeau
NYT best-selling author of The Happiness of Pursuit and The $100 Startup

Buy The Creative Sandbox Way by Melissa Dinwiddie - checkout with Amazon


Hear ye, hear ye! This is to serve as official notice that all links to anything for sale, be it books or courses, are likely to be affiliate links. What this means is that if you click through said links and make a purchase, although it won’t affect the price that you pay, a few coins will jangle into my coffers, enabling me to buy a packet of hard gluten-free biscuits to feed myself and my husband for another day, or perhaps a pen with which to create some artwork. Or perhaps they will contribute toward paying a fraction of my web hosting bill, so that this blog and podcast can continue to exist. Thank you kindly for your attention.

Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining me this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

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Now go get creating!

xo, Melissa <3

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