Health Update-Summer 2018

 

Twice a year or so, I write an update about my health.  This post is largely for me, to look back at later, and see the progress, remember that each decision I made for my health and putting myself first was worth it.  And it’s also for many of you, who have been following my story for awhile now.

So far, this summer is going very well.  I had some pretty severe symptoms when the weather changed, due to hay fever, however, using some Chinese medicine principles, I’m able to address the sneezing, itching eyes, eye pain, and fatigue.

At this point last year, I was having severe reactions to mold both at my workplace, apartment, & church.  And each reaction just made the next reaction worse.  I was unable to detox and the brain fog that I felt was horrible.

So this year, I am glad that I’m not moving, that I’m not switching jobs and starting a business–that in general, my body is able to detox so much better and the environments that I am in are pretty clean.

And the few days where I’ve had a reaction, and I know that I’ve had a mold exposure or my allergies are bad–I have the option to hop in the sauna or take an epsom salt bath–even sometimes both.

When I met with my doctor on Friday, there wasn’t much to say except, “I’m doing really well.”  We tweaked a few things on my treatment plan, and yet the main question that remained is, “What percentage are you at–from absolute worst to feeling as good as you can?”

85%.  We talked about how I desire even greater stamina, even greater focus and mental cognition.  But I’m almost there.

It’s been quite the journey.  And I’m very glad that I’m doing fairly well during my hardest season of the year.

Thanks to everyone for encouraging my journey in doing what I’ve needed to do to heal: from switching doctors, to IV’s, to supplements, to yoga, to acupuncture, to massage, to therapy, to meditation, to qigong, to diet and reintroducing foods back in, and the list could go on.

It’s been quite the journey.  And having a strong support system has been key in my healing.  Thank you.

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Musings on Spring

 

Last fall I felt guilty moving to Westfield, Indiana.

My health was deteriorating quickly, and a friend looked me in the eyes, about to give really good advice to someone like me who struggles with environmental illness.

“You need to move north.”

North meant the suburbs.  Moving north because the buildings are newer and have less mold meant that I have the privilege to do so.  And so I moved.

For several months, I asked the question, “Why Westfield?”

The answers did not come quickly.  In fact, the glimpses are still coming, more and more every day.

It took moving to the suburbs after 10 years of living in various cities (Chicago, Memphis & Indy), to realize how much of my identity was wrapped up in a negation.  I was a white person who didn’t live in the suburbs.

How our identities form is so extremely nuanced and complex.  It’s crazy how many beliefs take hold without even realizing it.

Well, now I live in the suburbs.  And after living here for 8 months, I’ve experienced culture shock, and also a love of the quiet, of parks that surround me.  It’s been a place of rest in the midst of starting my life over in terms of work, home, and faith community.

It’s been a place where re-imagining has taken place.

It’s been a place to take deep breaths.

It’s been a place to become a pedestrian again.

It’s been a place to dig into intentionality.

It’s been a place that has brought back beautiful place memories of my childhood.

It’s been a place to lean into the history of the land.  I live on the land taken from the Miami people, and “founded” by Quaker abolitionists.  I’m learning to feel that deep complexity in my body, and not run from the pain that surfaces.

I’ve been asking deep questions about my work.  About sustainability in a healing profession.  And I’m discovering that working with majority white students gives me a unique opportunity.  Together, we are developing a language and a conversation around limitations, which to me, seems more and more central to our liberation.

I’m learning how to provide a safe space for my students to come into contact with their own resistance with reading, with writing, with their learning difference.  Being a dyslexia and autism tutor is just a container for students to fail in a safe way, and together we build this stamina that failure does not define them, that it’s okay to take risks, that they don’t have to lean into their perfectionism.  That what makes my students so amazing is that they are learning to hold their weaknesses lightly.  They can mess up & laugh about it.

And as a recovering perfectionist, I learn from them every day!

In order for me to hold that space, I’ve needed to dig into my own healing, even deeper.  My work is lovely, and it can wear me out.

I’ve leaned into my qigong practice, my breathwork practice, my writing, finishing out EMDR with my therapist.  I’ve leaned into new friendships and old ones.  I fall away from my practices, and then need to come back to them.

As summer arrived suddenly in Indiana, I found myself reacting viscerally to all kinds of allergies.  I quickly felt very overcommitted and ungrounded.

Spring was a season of deep growth & transformation–and I entered into early summer enthusiastically, yet in doing a lot of outward work, and neglecting my spiritual practices.  I needed to return to my breath & to the earth, where Spirit is so present, if I would just pay attention and bring intention.

Spring brought about some deep “yeses.”  As I spent time at my computer working almost the whole day Saturday, I also was able to reflect on the year, as I sent next year’s calendar to my families.

My business survived the first year!  And I made money!

I joined the Episcopal church, 8 minutes from my apartment.  It’s environmentally friendly to my allergies.  The sanctuary is all tile!  There’s other reasons for joining, that I’ve already written about.  And I’ve joined the anti-racism team.  I will soon be trained to be a Lay Eucharistic Minister, serving communion to those who cannot leave their home.  As someone who has been confined to my bed, there’s no greater gift, than to find a reciprocal way to give back to those who have visited me.

I committed to finishing up my second year of spiritual direction training.  Who knows where this will lead, but I’m excited and the timing is right!

As I’ve said yes to my spiritual practice of qigong, my energy reserve just continues to build in my body, to the point where my food allergies are starting to disappear.  I’m no longer needing most of my medication.  I’m healing in deep ways every single day.  I had no idea this was possible, even though several people told me it was–I was just too skeptical to believe it at the time.

I helped to create a resource list for chronic fatigue advocacy in Indiana, and am learning to dive into conversations about the need for awareness and funding around chronic illness AND also ground inward and know that true healing is always inward, that no one doctor is the “savior.”  Validation is important, and healing from the trauma around not being believed even more important.

Spring has brought a deep yes, to be in contact with the Westfield police department about the over-policing I have witnessed working at the library, as students of color would walk over from the middle school and high school.

Spring has brought a school shooting 13 minutes from my home.  It’s meant texting my families who live in Noblesville, and checking in to make sure they are okay.  It’s been watching middle school students in a very conservative county protest the gun shop that opened that day after a school shooting in their hometown, and say, “Yes, this!”

Spring means walking to the tiny farmer’s market, and smiling.  It means talking to local business owners and sensing a spirit of camaraderie, not competition.  It means talking to the local bee farmer about honey & allergies, and how bees raise the vibration of the planet.  It means to committing to visit the bee farm, to draw closer to the Earth in my own vicinity.

As we draw near to the Summer Solstice, may there be abundance.  May their be joy and rootedness and hope.  May nature teach us about patience.  For everything there is a time.

 

Lists & Affirmations

It’s funny when I have lots of ideas of what to post, and what feels most pressing is just to talk about the ordinary.  For the ordinary describes the whole.  The ordinary describes the mystery & all the inconsistencies of my life.

Walks & talks with friends old & new.

Waking up late & rushing to work.

Babysitting Cash, my roommate’s dog.  Visiting a few different parks.

Not setting an alarm & letting the sun wake me up.

Inconsistently practicing qi gong this week to Motown.  Great combo, by the way!

Drinking pomegranate tea in the morning.

Finishing up the semester with my students & giving assessments throughout most of the day.

Doing breath work with a friend over a lunch break.

Binging on NY style pizza & cookie dough while watching 13 Reasons Why.

Going on adventures & driving to new places on mornings off.

Indulging in my desire to rest & read.

Planning a summer vacation for myself.

Listening to my fatigue & choosing not to do much this weekend.

Having good days & having days where my allergies flare & my brain feels like mush.

I’ve written a lot this winter & spring.  So much is healing and shifting.  Fatigue and energy come and go.  I’m adding in new foods & taking red meat out of my diet.  I’m finishing out the first two semesters of teaching with my own business.  And I’m leaning into summer, with all its abundance and ordinary-ness.

I’m leaning into my own abundance, my own flexibility and spontaneity.  I’m catching myself when I shame myself for things I can’t do.  I’m practicing coming back to the present moment, being thankful for this body, this breath, even the fatigue, when it lingers longer than I want it to.

I’m reminding myself of how much better I’m doing than last summer.  I’m lingering in the gratefulness that this summer, I will not be moving or starting a new job.  I can trust my body; I can trust what it’s telling me, even if I don’t want to hear it.  I know that intense allergies are a sign of imbalance–yet I don’t have to let that discourage me, or lead me down a path of feeling powerless.

I can trust my body’s subtle signals that remind me that I must rest more than a lot of people do.  I can rest in the fact that my lack of “production” does not make me less valuable.  I can trust my own self-care and reach out for help or say no.  I can just be…things are important and urgent, and I can still just be.

I’m looking to nature to understand what summer is.  It’s indulgent.  It’s restful.  It simply enjoys its fullness and its transformation.

I’m watching for when I overdue it, for when summer’s nice weather is an excuse to push harder and to do more.  I want to come back to my fullness and simply enjoy what is.  This moment where I can just be.

When Spirit Slows Time Down

 

Last Friday night, my mom and I spent some time together, and then I dropped her off at home–and met some neighbors that were talking to my dad in the front yard.

Within a minute, I knew there was this deep connection, and as I listened to stories, I quickly knew why.

Health journeys.  Unbelief from doctors, friends, family.  Youthful optimism, yet shouldering a huge weight.  Wanting someone just to “get it.”

As I looked at this high school girl–who appeared healthy and athletic–I could still see fear of the unknown behind her eyes.  Doctors’ appointments.  Lacrosse tournaments.  End of the year exams.  Exhaustion.  The “What-if?” questions. The wisdom beyond her years that hard times bring.

My parents had already shared with this family some of my story, my symptoms, how it started in high school, how no one really knew what was wrong.

She told me about going to see a cardiologist next week and doing a tilt table test.  I said, “I’ve done that.  It’s kinda weird.”  She wanted to know all the details and what to expect.

She told me about finally passing out in front of the doctor, and being so relieved that the doctor saw this happen, so that now he would believe her.

I made a quick comment about gender bias in medicine.

I went on to tell her my fainting symptoms and heart palpitations in high school–and that I was a female athlete, who could still compete fairly well under pressure, even with my health issues.

And then I stopped, and took a pause.  ‘I’m here, and I also know that helpful advice or stories, or research can often be unhelpful.  Just know that we have similar symptoms & I know a ton, yet I also know that each body is unique and complex.  I can listen or I can share, or I can do both.  Whatever is most helpful to you at any given time.”

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As we were talking, time slowed down.  I thought back to the hundreds of times I heard, “Well, there must be some reason you are going through this–your illness will be immensely helpful to others some day.”

Of course, on one level, these people were right.

And yet, as a kid, with this statement cloaked in a conservative Christian framework, I couldn’t help but feel like the “only purpose” of my illness was to help other people.  That people already had chosen my purpose for me–even though the illness wasn’t theirs.  I felt like my story, my wandering, my questioning, anger and pain, was quickly given a purpose without the journey.  This statement also felt inauthentic–and it was.

Largely because my illness is/was for me.  For my own healing.  To come home to myself.  Without my inner work, how I engage in showing up for others is more destructive than helpful.  And growing up, I didn’t really have models of someone being vulnerable in their grief, moving through their grief and engaging the world in a new way.

And as I fell down and got back up-I learned that to a large extent, grief is personal.  No one could know the inner landscape of my soul, as I sought to heal.  However, a community could come alongside and hold space.

Ironically though, this was a moment, where I could come back to a phrase that felt so trite at the time, “Your illness will be extremely valuable to others one day’ and knew deep in my body, that this was what they meant.

I’ve journeyed along with others and their illnesses for several years now.  Several of my friends have a long and complex health story.  And yet this girl, reminded me so much of myself.  Same age when my symptoms were surfacing.  Same age when I finally decided to quit the track team.  Crazy tests at secluded wings of the hospital.

Spirit had meaning infused into every detail of that evening.  The fact that the history walking tour that my mom and I were doing went longer than I thought. The fact that my mom had surgery and so I was driving her home.  That we pulled into the driveway as this family was in my parents’ front yard.

I don’t want to overlook those small details.

I’m sure dozens of stories will be shared in the future.  I will listen, share my wisdom, most importantly hold space.  I will show up, having done my inner work, and will keep doing my inner work.  It’s not about helping; it’s about being together, and gleaning from our collective wisdom.

Here’s to more stories shared.  For space to laugh, cry & connect.  For others to not feel so alone.

Health & Ancestry

 

This past Easter weekend, when at my parents’ home, I took some time to look through a book, detailing the Storrs’ ancestry.  As I flipped through its contents reading name after name–some themes began to emerge.

Doctors.  Lawyers.  Clergy.  Yale.

I saw the status that comes with these roles, the “rulers” of society.  There was no mention of the land they took, or the indigenous peoples they colonized or killed with their diseases.  No longer mentioning their names.  With their power, they got to tell the story, and leave out their shadow, what put them in a monstrous light.

I wonder if my ancestors wondered about how their domination would affect their ancestors.  Did they even question how their lifestyle, their beliefs and practices was affecting them?

As I flipped through a multi-hundred page book, I didn’t see many healers mentioned.  There were a select few who held anti-slavery views and aligned their life with their beliefs.

Richard Salter Storrs, Charles Backus Storrs, George Storrs.

One woman in particular caught my attention: Lucinda Howe Storrs.

She was described as having a rare strength and tenderness, keeping a detailed diary, and attending to the concerns of the soul.  Maybe what we would call a mystic today.

I’m glad I know a few names of people in my lineage who had the courage to say, “This isn’t right.  We must be in this world in a new way, even though we carry with us this history of oppression.  And we must carry our spirituality with us into this work.”

And yet, I have the drivenness and perfectionism and domination in my body of my ancestors.  And I have this strong intuitive part of myself that has felt this dissonance, as I have sought to wander my way into the truth.

I wonder if ancestral trauma plays a considerable role in my chronic illness.  Because my healing journey isn’t just about me–it’s about the effects on other people because I’m healing.  It’s about strongly saying, “The dysfunction stops here.  The silence.  The lies.  The lop-sided incorrect view of history.  The ending where white people always win.”

During my breath work practice over the past several months, this strong, yet simple message has come through: “You are here to heal.  Healing yourself is also about healing your family line.”

To be honest, I don’t really know what this means.  And yet I’m learning that I don’t need to.  Showing up to myself, to my practice, to people–this is all I need to know.

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As a sensitive person, my body reacts strongly to the changing of the seasons.  This has always been true–I’m just now tuning into this.  As the warmer weather made known that it was here to stay in Indiana, this message came too: “It’s time to slow down and write.”

It’s time to stop worrying and wondering how all the pieces are going to come together and just live.  To be in touch with my longings and desires and live out of these-no matter how that looks each day.

It’s time for me to lean more deeply into natural law and the symbolism of nature.  Summer is abundance!

For so many years summer has felt like deprivation.  But summer gives greatly.  Part of healing is healing my relationship with nature.

So this summer, I am going to receive in abundance.

The sun.  The beach. Parks.  The flowers.  Rest.  Naps.  Books.  Sunsets.  Concerts in the park. Sitting by the apartment pool.  Getting in the pool and swimming.  Friends. Walks.  Wine tasting.  BBQ.

There is such a strong perfectionism in my DNA, that I must rest.

As I dig into my ancestral roots, I’m discovering deeper purposes for my illness.  I needed to wake up to this deeper work.  As a highly driven perfectionist, I needed something as severe as my illness to wake me up.  To stop and rest.  A chance to breathe deeply and learn to come home to myself.

To understand where my impulses come from.  To tap back into my deeply spiritual nature that doesn’t need an organization structure to fuel it.  To realize that at my essence, I am worthy-and I express this worthiness best in the world by being a healer and a writer.

Instead of just viewing my illness as a curse, and needing to fix it, I’m seeing glimpses of its greater purpose.

And I know deeply in my body that my healing is for myself and for everyone else.

I didn’t use to believe this.  I had internalized that my self-care was selfish, that my healing journey was navel-gazing, that it was just another stint of my perfectionism.

I had never before considered that at my core, I am a healer-and in order to be one, I needed to focus on my own.  And by engaging this process, I am actually stepping into who I really am.

That this process was quite literally saving my life.  Because I was and am coming home to myself.

Surely, many of my ancestors did not want to be doctors, lawyers & clergy.  Surely something ached in many of them for something more (although nothing is inherently bad about these professions!).  Surely clinging to all that power and ignoring their shadow, wiping out entire peoples & stories, cultures, and rituals, while they “started” a country with “law and order.”

That psychological heaviness is deep.  And I’m sure it weighed on generation after generation.  And it weighs on me.

Maybe I needed to go through an intense powerlessness of chronic illness to know that in giving up power is where I find life.  That in mutual friendships, I find delight.  That there’s something mysterious at play.  That joy and sadness can co-exist and must for the creativity to surface.

Healing starts with me–in all of my privilege, in all of my pain.  I will keep on healing.

Magic of Right Now

 

When my EMDR therapist and I had the conversation that I was close to being done with therapy, we revisited the question, she asked me in our very first session.

“How do you know when you are done?”

“I more fully accept myself,” is what I had said.

But then I asked her, “How is it supposed to feel in your body?”

“Like you are flying.”

That’s all she had to say, and I smiled.  I wanted to feel like that.  I know I wouldn’t feel that way all the time, but I did want a glimpse of it.

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May has usually been the month I start to get a little nervous.  I love the warmer weather and being outside, however historically it’s the time my allergies set in and the mold from the humid weather starts to make itself known in Indiana.

It’s the month where I want to be inside and rest because I’m so exhausted, yet my body wants to be outside.  I want to revel in the abundance of nature with everyone else without having to worry how my body feels so much of the time.

Spiritually, my body has experienced so much dissonance during summer, especially over the last few years.  It has been so difficult to embrace being and abundance when my body has been highly reactive, exhausted, and fatigued.

I do realize that it’s perfectly fine to be experiencing something different than the symbolism of a specific season, and yet because of my environmental illness, I felt like I was teaching my body to avoid the goodness that is nature–and I didn’t like this habit that was forming.

It didn’t seem like I had any other choice though, so I felt powerless.  I felt highly reactive, frustrated, and sad.  Going through the same cycle again and again.  Health deteriorating.  Needing to move.  Needing to switch jobs.

Last summer, I had reached my limit.  I didn’t want to keep doing this.  I learned what I could from my exhausted state, living at my parents’ and at a friends’ for weeks at a time, packing my apartment, and trying to figure out how to detox, even though I was reacting to mold.  I had so much help in starting my tutoring business and moving to the northern suburbs of Indy.

Yet, I felt like I was holding years and years of exhaustion in my body.  My grief and powerlessness felt overwhelming & my flashbacks came back with abandon.

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In my last session with my therapist, we went over my intake form and how I had told her about my sleep patterns: that I often woke up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep through the night due to mold exposure during the day.

This doesn’t happen anymore.  “What connection do you see?” she asked me. I told her how EMDR has helped resolve my grief; it has been part of my work around moving stuck energy in the body.  This has helped to calm down my immune system and I’m reacting less to mold in an environment.  I’m sleeping through the night.  I continue to detox in a variety of ways, including running an air purifier at night.

This summer, I’m excited.  I don’t expect my health to be perfect; I think that’s unrealistic.  But I do expect myself to delight in being outside, simply thankful that my body can handle so much more than it has in a long time.

I’m thankful that my brain doesn’t have to equate summer, mold, extreme brain fog, and being unable to be a part of a 10 minute conversation.  I’m glad that I’ve been able to untangle my negative emotions and beliefs–so that I can simply be, and accept what is.  Today I choose to be hopeful about what summer will bring.

 

Photo by Irina Kostenich on Unsplash

At the Intersections of Asexuality, Chronic Illness, & Spirituality, Part 3

 

It was during the worst bout of my illness–that as I thought of my future, not only was it not as clear, but I had this intuitive sense, that a traditional family structure may not be for me.

Like I said, I knew that I wouldn’t become a nun, yet I would have the capacity to live out my life in that way.  But I did gravitate towards mystical writing & prose, and felt at home.  I could go inward and connect to the Divine deeply.

I wondered that as I healed if my vision for the future would change.  I felt this subtle societal pressure that as I healed, that my work needed to look a certain way and so should my relationships.  I had time to ask myself, “Where is that coming from?”

In my illness, I already had experienced middle class white people become very uncomfortable when I said that I was unemployed, and I was taking care of myself full-time.  98% of people had no idea what to do with that answer.  The next question I received was, “So what do you do with all the time you have?”–like they were jealous that I had all the time in the world.  (BTW, having able-bodied people be jealous of your sickness & “all the time you have” is a very uncomfortable situation!)

Without the systemic language at the time–I experienced people not treating me as well because of my lack of employment, that I wasn’t “productive enough.”  Living in a culture where identity is so wrapped up in work, I had internalized this too.  This is what capitalism does.  It makes human-doings, and not human beings.

After I found my second functional medicine doctor, and started healing–I was questioning my sexuality, and yet a necessary biological piece had to fall into place for me–before I could let myself accept the term asexual.

I needed my hormone levels to be in range–so that I could really be sure.  I need to be a little less clouded in my questioning and my wondering.

Throughout my illness, I’d gotten my thyroid tested, along with estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone for so many years that it was hard to really discern, “Is the lack of sexual attraction to do with my illness or is it really just my orientation?”

I remember the day I got my lab work back, and my thyroid levels were in range for the first time probably since my early teenage years.

Although I didn’t tell other people for quite some time, I whispered to myself,

“I’m an asexual.”

So much relief came from saying this out loud.  I didn’t really know how to accept this part of myself, but I wanted to, and that was the important part.

Post-EMDR

 

I finished this intense period of therapy last week.  After 2 introduction sessions, I started into EMDR.  The whole session was just talking about memories, about sensations, emotions, negative thoughts.  After awhile, I could track, even while I was speaking, how someone with my nature, is particularly prone to trauma and how trauma is experienced.

EMDR taught me so much about my sensitive, empathic nature.  How I could feel someone’s sadness or pain, almost deeper than he/she/they could?  How could I feel the energy in an environment and have it affect my energy levels?  How come grief seems to lodge in my body in the way it does?

As I went into these sessions, and my eyes went back and forth across the light bar thousands of times, I came to more fully appreciate my sensitive nature, this deep and unique part of myself.  The more my trauma cleared, the more I could see myself, this very strong, compassionate, empathic woman, for who I really am.

I came to understand how I’ve functioned in relationships that hasn’t served my best interest.  How I must understand serving others in a more nuanced way, because companioning someone in challenges comes naturally to me.  It is not a difficult task for me to try and see the world from another perspective.

So, as I kept going back to therapy, we worked on feeling more grounded, in my gut or sacral chakra.  I wanted to feel grounded in my intuition, not always second-guessing myself.  I wanted to couple my compassion with strength.

I wanted to know if I could sustain myself in a helping profession.  As the trauma cleared, I had more energy in my body to go towards my self-care instead of protecting my pain.  So, I found powerful healing practices that seemed to work with my energy–including meditation, breath work and qigong.

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A deep question that I didn’t realize I was asking until mid-way through therapy was, “Why has the Western Christian church emphasized service (and usually the service of women) at the expense of knowing oneself?”  And how have I been hurt by this reversal?”

I learned early on not to question authority.  They were always right.  Being a “sinner” was emphasized to such a degree that my lifetime of service of God really was a payback–and I was supposed to do this with joy.

Never did we talk about how serving could be a way of avoiding one’s pain.  Never did we talk about sensitive individuals and the propensity for burn-out and the martyrdom mentality.  Never did we talk about why women were encouraged to serve more than men.

There was a lot packed into my formative years and who I was “supposed to” be.  Wanting to please, I did everything I could, until I burned out, quit my job, and found out that I had an autoimmune disease that was running my life.  It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I did this in the name of God.

But I couldn’t do it anymore.  And so, the last 4 years, have been a deep unraveling.  Of knowing the Divine and myself and those around me.  Of accepting myself and my unique nature and letting that inform how I show up in the world, grounded and compassionate.

Yet, more than an unraveling is happening.  I’m reconstructing my life.  I’m now on solid, yet unknown ground, and that feels as it should be.

I say no a lot more.  I don’t sign up for things just because.  I want my outer life to reflect my inner life.  I’m no longer frantic, searching desperately for meaning.  Now, I can stand in one place, knowing that I can find meaning anywhere.

And I let myself feel that deep joy.  Because when deep internalized trauma no longer clouds my vision, I can finally see what is.  And what is, is a very beautiful gift.

 

Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

Musings on Peace

I walked through a nature preserve last week in the middle of the day.  The sun had just decided to peek out, and I took advantage of a client canceling by taking a walk outside.  I watched the robins dance in the branches, noticed the water still high by the bridge.  I celebrated the small flowers shooting up, and I found a hidden very small cemetery in the middle of the woods and just stood by it for several minutes, still and silent.

I needed that 35 minute walk.

To take a deep breath.  To check in with myself.  To simply be out in the sun.

As I’m on this journey of coming home to myself, I realize more and more how much time I need alone and in quiet.

My body needs time to acclimate to all the robust changes that have taken place over the past 6 months, all the change that continues even in this moment.

I need a moment simply to say, “I love and accept myself.”

A moment simply to smile and say, “All is well, and all will be well.”

A moment to acknowledge that I’m made to chase joy and adventure.  Sometimes I am to be still and let joy and adventure chase me.

A moment to enjoy.  Just because.

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It’s taken awhile for me to know within my body what being at peace feels like.  What it feels like for my body to feel clear, to not be holding tension in my jaw, in my shoulders.  What it feels like to really take a deep breath.

Not too long ago, by the way I lived my life, I would have defined peace as being accepted by others, and not making them too upset.  Interestingly enough, peace didn’t start with me.

I feel more peace now, linked with a curiosity and adventure, than I ever have in my life.  It’s an inner peace of acceptance.  Accepting and continuing to accept who I am, and how I am to be of service in the world.  Accepting what is mine to do, and what isn’t.

Peace has been linked with boundary setting, yes, but also by simply giving myself permission.  Knowing deeply (not just intellectually) that I am empowered to choose.  I am in control of my own body, of my own mind.  And by simply being myself, I will make some people upset.  And that it’s not my job to take on that energy.  It’s just a reflection of another person’s lack of acceptance.

So some days, I check in and ask myself, “What do I need?”

Last week it was a walk in the sun.  It was listening to my body’s deep desire of movement and quiet and nature.  And I said yes.

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As I heal and accept myself more and more, my desire for silence and solitude grows.  Some days the amount in which I feel like I need this type of space, feels unnerving.  Yet, I rest in the fact that my body knows what it needs, and I must listen.

There’s this paradox occurring.  I deeply know of my own empowerment, and yet the healing adventure is unknown.  It must be both/and.  This longing of solitude feels like a childhood longing–where time moves on without my knowledge, where my bare feet touch the grass, where I commune with nature and myself, without having to explain or defend.

There’s a gift here for me.  I have spent half of my life defending my need for medical treatment.  Defending that I am worth figuring out what was going on, and to receive adequate treatment.  I’ve also spent a good chunk of my life, hiding, staying small, and not listening to my body.   I get to rest and accept now.

And as I rest, part of healing is also realizing that my chronic illness is a story of going against my true nature–leaving my sensitivity behind–and just trying to make it in the world by being “successful.”  That was never my path, although I tried to fake it for awhile.

So, as I rest, I reclaim my sensitivity, and say “yes” to my whole self.  Just because.

 

Photo by Michael Heuser on Unsplash

Letting Energy Flow

As I keep engaging with a regular breath work practice (about 3x/week for me), I’m noticing how my thoughts are shifting.  When I first started, I had to understand everything.

Why are my fingers tingling?  Why did my hand clench up?  Why am I crying?

I had to know the answers.  My brain wanted so desperately to be in control and to create immediate meaning.

Part of learning to trust my body, and let my intuition speak, is to just trust that any sensation is just energy needing to move.  I don’t have to know why in that moment, and yet a commitment to acknowledge the sensations and emotions, and to work with them through a practice to move stuck energy is extremely helpful!

Of course, my mind still wants to know.  That doesn’t go away overnight.  The mind’s job is to think thoughts, and it surely does this!  The results of the breath work practice show up in my active life.

I’m less anxious about my health.

Why is this?  I do have more supports in place.  If I have a reaction to mold, I know what to do.  Of course, all of this helps.  And yet breath work and my work in therapy, have helped to get at the stuck trauma in my body of feeling powerless and alone.  Powerless in getting a diagnosis.  Powerless in having a doctor take me seriously.  Fearful in wondering if healing was even possible.  Fearful to dream, because I didn’t want these good things taken away.

I’m finding my voice.

I’m writing a lot more, in general.  It doesn’t take as long to put words on a page.  I know that writing for me, at this time, also means writing for other people.  So I’m writing more on my blog, and I’m also plugging away at my memoir.  Writing can be both relaxing and intimidating–and sometimes I feel this within the span of 2 minutes!  Engaging this creative process has brought deep joy.

I’m seeing change as an invitation to transformation, rather than a painful journey.

A lot has happened in the past 6 months.  A lot of unraveling.  A lot of finding the common threads throughout my life.  A lot of reading, resting, and going inward.  Yet, so traveling too, and meeting new friends.  Laughter and tears.  Fights and acceptance.  New commitments and new completions.  All a part of the journey, each showing up to teach me something new.

I know what my energy feels like.

I’ve come to understand at a much deeper level, what it feels like to be in my body as an empath.  How I need to set firmer boundaries, in some areas.  How I need to sustain myself in a helping profession when I am giving of my energy most of the day.  How dishonest it feels to take on someone’s energy, when that’s not my job.  I’m learning, and I’m growing.

I know that bits of truth can be found anywhere; and that one person, place, institution cannot hold the whole picture.

Throughout my healing journey, people, trying to be helpful, have given me advice or told me what to try next.  At some point in our lives, we all think that we “have the answer.”   It’s been beautiful to turn inward, to gain confidence, to heal and be standing on firmer ground, and to know that bits of healing are everywhere.  Healing can come from a conversation with a stranger, or watching buds bloom on the tree.  Healing can be a qigong practice or an IV.  Healing can be drinking tea or watching TV.  The important thing is to regularly ask myself, “What do I need?” and to listen to the answer.  I will need different things at different times, and so I must listen.

May you today be graced with a pause, to notice the healing in you and around you.

 

Photo by Ravi Pinisetti on Unsplash