Tag Archives: healing

vision

Br(e)aking back to basics

vision

This is what July (and beyond) looks like for me.

I told myself I would take off the month of July. Ever since January I’ve been goinggoinggoing, and I am ready to be still. Or, if not actually ready, at least aware that it’s time.

In the last five months I’ve taken an 8-week grammar course, a 6-week yoga course, a 10-week writing course, 5 weeks of guitar lessons, and 4 weeks of Wholly Shift, all of which required additional time commitments outside of class. I’ve also traveled to Chicago, the Catskills (twice), Texas, Los Angeles, and Massachusetts. All along I’ve maintained friendships, somewhere in there I turned 30, and every now and then I’ve tried to date. I’ve also worked a full-time job.

I’ve also gotten tired.

All of the learning and traveling has been totally by choice, and all of it worthwhile and mostly enjoyable. But as summer set in, a line from Dirty Dancing started to echo in my head: “She needs a break.”

And now it’s July, and I’m trying to rest. I celebrated the 4th and the long weekend that followed on a retreat with my writing group, which was certainly restful, aside from the part where I spent many hours typing thousands of words and battling the discomfort that accompanied them.

(I know, I know. My job is to show up at the page and produce, not to judge the process or the output. It’s hard for me.)

So, a week into July, I’ve still been seeking stillness. Lucky for me, a new chapter of Wholly Shift started yesterday, and last night’s session was rocket fuel for my rejuvenation.

With the guidance of universal intelligence (via Laura Hames Franklin), I released worry and doubt and gave myself permission to see things I’ve never seen before. Then in a state of meditation I summoned a vision for my future. Then I put it on paper.

What showed up were open hands, clear of eczema (a lifelong struggle that has recently resurfaced), holding infinite wealth and radiance. What came to me were words: my palms are pure and powerful. Self-acceptance. No judgement. Trusting abundance.

Receiving innate wisdom is rewarding in itself, but my delight elevated when Laura asked a super practical question. What are three tangible things I can do every day to get closer to my vision?

I wasn’t sure what might directly bring about infinite wealth and radiance, but I had a few ideas about releasing chronic inflammation, doubt, and judgment. And boy, were they basic.

Today I am avoiding refined sugar, dairy, and gluten. I will meditate for nine minutes, and I will drink three big bottles of water.

Simple, simple, simple, if not always easy. All three actions are doable, nourishing, and satisfying. Exactly what I need to help me slow down, to take a break, to breathe deeply. To rest.

water bottle

My water bottle is my new BFF. Bottoms up!

 

Temptation, trying, failing, trying

Mini Napoleon by sweetfixNYC

I ate my own Napoleon(s) too fast to photograph. They looked like this though. But with more filling.

Sugar is not my friend.

I know this, I know this, I KNOW THIS, and if I have any doubts whatsoever, I need only touch my tender, itchy skin.

And yet this afternoon I ate a cannoli, half a Napoleon, something that looked like a ball of meringue but was crunchy amaretto instead, two coconut cookies with rasberry jam, and finally, another Napoleon.

I am not writing about this occurrence in order to guilt trip shame myself. I’m just confused, and I want to understand.

Nearly ten months ago I found out that if I stopped eating sugar, dairy, and gluten, my chronically itchy skin would stop causing me pain. At the time I made this discovery, I was in a great deal of discomfort.

eczema evidence

This is what my chest and shoulder looked like.

I’ve had eczema most of my life. When I was a child it was severe, but after I hit adolescence the rash faded to an annoyance. A persistent patch here and there, but nothing I couldn’t easily endure or ignore. And then came last summer. Suddenly, at age twenty-nine, I was overcome with an outbreak that rivaled the eruptions of my childhood.

The itching was relentless, and my scratching as destructive as it was unstoppable. Nighttime was torture. I tried wearing gloves, wearing socks over gloves, wrapping fabric and bandages mummy-style over my hands–anything to keep me from tearing up my skin as I slept. Nothing worked. Each morning I woke to freshly clawed wounds; no matter how short I cut my nails or how hard I tried to confine them, my unconscious hands found a way to do damage.

Then I stopped being able to sleep. Instead, I’d sit up for hours, scratching and worrying, experiencing flashbacks of long, lonely nights and futile frustration. In a way, I was grateful to be reliving my youth. I hadn’t realized how bad things had been, and connecting to the suffering of my younger self allowed me to show up with compassion, to heal distress that had not been acknowledged. It made me want to take action as an adult, to help her/me in a way I couldn’t before.

Having long ago maxed out the (in)effectiveness of steroid creams, I decided to try something different. I visited a friend who is a healer, and I surrendered my inflamed self into her care. Entirely desperate, I was willing to try whatever she suggested.

I immediately changed my diet. No sugar, no dairy, no gluten. No coffee, no chocolate. No chicken, no shrimp. No onions, no garlic, no spices; nothing raw, nothing frozen. I ate eggs, cucumbers, walnuts, apples. Salmon, quinoa, and kale. Hot lemon water in the morning, berries once a day, steamed arugula as much as I could manage.

I got better. The new diet, and my friend’s unique approach to acupuncture, was working. Two weeks into the treatment plan, I slept through the night for the first time. A month after that, my skin had almost completely cleared.

eczema improvement

Six weeks of solid self-care paid off.

And then I started to slip. A bowl of lobster bisque at a wedding. Some gluten-free gingersnaps at Thanksgiving. A few buttermilk bacon pecan pralines at a holiday party. As the new year progressed, I coasted along a gradual slope of occasional indulgence…that turned into a freefall.

Coffee became a daily habit. A couple weeks ago I had a Twix bar for lunch two days in a row, followed by a Friday breakfast of bagels and cream cheese and a Saturday night milk shake with a generous helping of cookies. I had a friend in town, and when we got groceries, I encouraged her to put shortbread biscuits with chocolate medallions in the cart and added ice cream sandwiches. When she asked about my restricted diet, I waved her off.

I knew I was pushing my limits, eating whatever and dismissing the consequences. I figured I’d get back on track eventually, but I was waiting for a sign.

I thought the sign would be jeans that were too tight, or a belly unfit for a bathing suit. And I’m sure those indicators are en route. But what showed up first were welts. All along my torso, my chest, and under my arms. Not quite as bad as last summer, but close enough to remind me where I’ve been. The itching is back too. I woke up scratching the other night.

“Food is either medicine or poison,” my friend told me last fall, and I know that she is right. I’m back to hot lemon water in the mornings, and steering clear of coffee and chocolate and everything else I’m not supposed to have. Last night I baked sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free muffins.

And today I ate a truckload of Italian pastries.

People change at the pace of pain. I’ve heard that before, and it seems to be true for me. Apparently I’m hurting enough to buy better groceries, but not so much that I can pass up free sweets.

I pray for patience and compassion; there is no place for shame. It is too easy to say, “What were you thinking, eating those desserts! You know better—and it’s not like you had one cookie. Have you no self-control? Do you not care that you’re harming your health?”

It is a little harder, but not hard, to say, “Oh hon, oh dear. I feel sad that you did that, but I understand. Sugar is not your friend, but I know how it pretends. I know it was very tough to resist that unexpected temptation. Yes, you lost control, and I know you feel bad. But you are making progress. Next time can be different.”

I ate a lot of sugar this afternoon, but I also passed up pizza at lunchtime, and instead splurged on carrot-celery-apple-ginger-beet juice to go with my arugula and walnuts and eggs. I am making progress. Next time can be different.

Shifting through the mud

walking in mud

Mud is dirty, icky, and gleefully squishy.

“I give myself permission to walk through the mud.”

That was the first of (approximately) one trillion insights offered to me during tonight’s Wholly Shift session, and it immediately resonated.

I would rather not get dirty. I take pride in keeping clean. However, dirty is part of the deal when I choose to grow and transform (or simply stay alive), and so instead of avoiding the mud, I might as well walk through it.

Sure, mud is messy, but I’ll get to a river or shower soon enough, or it’ll dry up and dust away. However it happens, the dirty never stays.

The clean doesn’t either, of course, which was another lesson the universe wanted to teach tonight. Just like washing our hair—the cycle of fresh and clean, to greasy limp, to wet and clean again—life is a flow. I might as well go with it.

And I don’t have to flow alone. Mud walking is slow going–it’s slippery, and requires awareness and careful attention. (Not unlike walking through snow.) Sometimes it’s yuck, yuck, yuck.

But it’s also affirming. Because when you’re walking in mud, you KNOW it. There’s no mistaking the terrain for smooth sidewalks or grassy meadows. Every squishy step is invigorating in its own way–there’s no doubting you are dirty and ALIVE.

Some people think mud is bad, and that’s okay. I don’t have to hang out with them, and I don’t have to feel bad either. Because I’m dynamically supported, I can holler, “Hey! I’m in the mud!” and be assured I’m in good company.

“When you’re in the mud, you can be experiencing the mud, and at the same time you can experience yourself being with yourself in the mud.”

That’s something Laura said near the end of our session, and it sums up one of the many ways I’m shifting. I can trust that it’s okay to get dirty, but with compassion, I don’t have to get stuck.

Wholly Shift!

Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 9.39.13 PM

Laura Hames Franklin knows what’s UP.

Of all the impressive people who impacted my life last weekend at Nathalie Lussier’s Off the Charts event, the person who rocked my world the most was Laura Hames Franklin.

I’ve been learning about about personal growth and healing for years, and I’ve gotten excited about many methods and modalities. I feel fortunate to be alive at a time where there are so many different techniques and approaches to feeling better and connecting with universal truth and guidance.

But when I encountered Laura’s work, I felt electrified like never before. Like someone had finally presented me with the ANSWER, in all caps.

And the coolest part about that ANSWER? It’s been inside me all along.

It’s not a novel concept to me, the idea that the wisdom is within. Intellectually, I’ve known it a long time, and to a good extent I’ve also felt it emotionally and physically. Processes like Inner Bonding, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), and especially yoga, to list a few examples, have helped me get in touch with my body and spirit simultaneously.

Yet nothing has been as simple as what Laura taught me on Saturday–how to balance the left and right brain with some astonishingly easy and effective tapping. And nothing has felt as instantly transformative as what she guided me through on Sunday, and then again on Monday and Saturday when I attended her free webinars.

Basically, Laura teaches that every atom in the universe is connected (science shows this), and that we humans have the ability to tune in to universal intelligence if we’re so inclined. And that when we let our bodies feel and function as they’re meant to, possibilities vastly expand.

Laura’s exceptional scientific and anatomical knowledge combined with her well honed intuition enable her to help others access the wisdom that always exists in what she calls our “innernet.”

One way she does this is through an online experience she calls Wholly Shift. The program, eight real-time sessions over the course of four weeks, is called Wholly Shift because, well, it shifts you, wholly.

I have already been so immediately affected and inspired by what I’ve learned from Laura that I took the plunge and applied for a scholarship to attend the next Wholly Shift program, which starts tomorrow.

It wasn’t easy for me to ask for the scholarship. In fact, yesterday morning I decided not to. I was a bit intimidated by the requirements–I’d never, ever made or edited a video before, much less one of myself asking for aid, and certainly not one to post online for the world to see.

Also, though I was dismayed to notice it, I wasn’t quite sure I had the “willingness to boldly share this information with [my] community,” which was something she was specifically looking for.

The thing about Laura’s work is that it’s not for everyone, and while I KNOW it is for ME, I worried that I’d seem wacko or “out there” if I enthusiastically promoted her to my community at large, which surely includes people who aren’t ready for or interested in what she offers.

But you know what? Her work is AMAZING. And I want to be a part of it. And, because I somehow surpassed my doubts and fears, and somehow managed to create, post, and promote the heck out of my application, I gave myself the best chance possible to get what I want. That feels good no matter what—but then, tonight I found out that I WON!

And you know what else? One of my mom’s friends saw my video and was inspired to check out Laura’s work. That couldn’t have happened if I’d let my insecurities rule. So, yeah, I’m super psyched to start Wholly Shift tomorrow—and I intend to keep on sharing.

Brighter than my blues

Kelley and Matt, doing what they do–singing “a song that’s true.”

I am so grateful for good music, for true sounds from the soul and the chance acts of fortune that lead me to them.

I don’t remember how I found out about Noisetrade, nor do I know why I listened to Kelley McRae‘s album two years ago on a January day. Maybe because it had “Brooklyn” in the title and I live in New York, or maybe I just had the curiosity to click and listen. Noisetrade sends me lots of emails, plenty of new sounds to consider, but rarely does an artist hook me like she did.

I was hurting that winter, and I found solace in her singing. I didn’t have a ton of downtime for reflection since I was working full time and also training to become a yoga instructor–basically a second full-time job–but whenever I showered I’d listen to Kelley’s music, and whenever I heard “Sparrow,” I felt heard.

That would have been enough, connecting to a random recording that helped me heal, but my relationship to Kelley’s music grew stronger when I ventured to see her play that March on the Lower East Side. She and her husband/bandmate, Matt, announced that they had just traded in their Brooklyn home and belongings for a VW camper van and were preparing to tour America in order to share the art they had to offer. I was inspired.

I introduced myself afterwards, and in my journal the next day I described Kelley as “a lovely personality and performer” and noted that “it was a pleasure to see the show.” Plus, “she played ‘Sparrow,’ which basically made my night.”

From then on, whenever I got an email announcing an NYC performance, I did my best to show up for it. We struck up an email correspondence because Kelley was looking for venues for house shows on the road and I have friends in other states. After seeing her play again in May, I gushed: “I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to hear a singer/writer who has chops, soul, AND spirit.”

Chops, soul, and spirit–that pretty much sums up Kelley McRae. When it comes to life and love, it’s clear to me that this girl GETS it. And I am grateful. This past spring and summer she recorded an album funded entirely by supporters, and it overflows with love and energy (just like her!).

After we chatted at the release party for Brighter than the Blues in September, I had to let her know: “I feel so lucky to have discovered an artist who not only creates music I genuinely connect to, but who is personable and communicative to boot!”

And I do feel lucky, to know her and her music, to support someone with the courage to be authentic and follow her heart, who lives a human life with good intention. It’s true that we ain’t got much time, and it’s important how we spend it. I’m happy I get to use some of mine listening to talented truth, told with an open heart.