@thegirlfriendmanifesto
These very words came into my world recently via instagram** and it felt like someone switched on a fan in front of my face. I think I even swayed my head as my hair flew gently with the breeze.

Oh!  Aaahhh..

Yes yes. Hell Yes. Holy YES. Deep in my bones. Y to the ES. Yes.

The healing path keeps going. Because life.
I am a living breathing dynamic being who might be killing a virus, but I’m also healing stories. Mending wounds. Unraveling old beliefs and ways. Fighting demons.
Peeling layers, turning over mossy stones.

Working with the whole.

Sometimes it’s hard. Not gonna lie, occasionally it feels like bullshit.
Sometimes I want to eat and drink whatever the hell I want, consequence-free.
Sometimes I want remedies to be less expensive.
Sometimes my body still hurts a lot anyway.
Sometimes I am unforgiving.

Sometimes I’m like wait, I thought I worked through this story. Fifty freaking times.

But.

I have learned immense amounts about the inner workings of my body, the fluidity of my identity and the medicinal power of food, ritual and movement.
I’ve had great epiphanies after making great mistakes about communication and empathy.
I am paying attention.
I am discovering deeper clarity, greater possibilities and how to be thoroughly unapologetic for my needs.
I am learning what I need to learn.

And though I am often frustrated with what’s happening inside my body, I have also never felt more like myself than I do now.

I remember when I started feeling better after a long long time and I thought to myself, “Hey, I remember you!”

And now I’m like, “Hey New You-who’s-really-totally-you-the-way-you-were-meant-to-be-but-never-have-been-before!”

Healing-as-love affair.
I mean, seriously, what a concept.
Hello paradigm, meet shift.
To find joy and love and dare-I-say fun in getting in right-relationship with yourself.
With your body.

I get being in a place of challenge, confusion, overwhelm, helplessness, pain, pushing through, showing up.

Moving toward wellness, creating wellness, Healing (yes with a capital H), is not the same as Cured.
And that may be frustrating. Ok it is totally frustrating, but it’s truth. A beautiful truth really, because you’re making a choice to do better for yourself. For others. To create beauty and strength in yourself. To dig down deep and find what you’re made of.
To be the alchemist. To find the gold.

To recognize the life in you. The beating heart, the coursing blood, the firing synapses, the lung expansion (inspiration!), the new thoughts, the new beliefs, the new perspectives, the limitations that are actually detours to something amazing you never saw before.

Can you see it?
Can you move from from flirting with self care to nourishing a full-on long-lasting serious relationship?

Can you Fall In Love With Healing Yourself?

**Thank you @thegirlfriendmanifesto for putting this sentence out into the world.
In six words you’ve taken this journey to a whole new level.
Let’s rock this thing.
karen

it's not who you are

I see a lot of chronic, long term pain.
I see a lot of acute pain from long term behaviors, repetitive movements, postures, lifestyle.

But I also see a lot of resistance to change.
Even changing from something that’s unhelpful.

When it comes to self care, even deeper self awareness,
I hear a lot of “I should”, but I don’t often hear “I am.”

For a long time I just couldn’t understand why someone wouldn’t do what could help.
I’ve wondered that of myself in times I couldn’t seem to get there.

Years ago a client desperately asked what she could do for her symptoms outside of seeing me
and taking meds. I suggested three simple, easily accessible things she could do for herself.
Clearly having blocked me out, she gasped, “But I just don’t know what to do.”

I hear a lot of “I need to” and “I’m sorry I didn’t” but what I understand is, “I’m afraid.”

What I once thought was laziness, apathy or disbelief that a shift could actually help,
is often none of that.

I now recognize it as overwhelm.

Daunted by the thought of what needs to be done.
Concerned by how it would affect ones daily routine, which is the structure we often depend on.
But also scared at the thought of what feeling different might mean, what it could feel like, what it could look like.

When you’re used to something being a certain way; pain, posture, headaches, fatigue, scoliosis,
romantic relationships, family traditions, anything – the possibility that it could be different,
could be positively different, can be rather uncomfortable, even overwhelming.

It’s what you know. It may be all you know. It’s familiar. It’s your story. It’s you.

The food you eat. The food your family eats. The pain you’re in. The pain you ignore. The way you work.
The way your office works. The time you have. The time you don’t have. The to-do list you have.
The way you sit. The way you walk. The shoes you wear. The limits your body has. The age you are.
The injury you had. The schedule you have. The expectations of others. The way you grew up.
The symptoms you’ve accepted.

And change is.. everything else.
Unfamiliar, uncharted and unclear territory.
Loss of control, loss of boundaries, loss of yourself as you know you.

Panic can set in before you even begin and well, we do like to avoid discomfort at all costs.
Easier, familiar is good.
Harder, what-could-it-mean, bad.

So.
How do you work with the overwhelm?
How do you counteract the assumption that you’ll drown?
How do you make a different choice?

Pause.
Take some breaths to soften the immediate response of No.

Go slow.
Do a little at a time.
Release expectation.
Make the choice to do move in a new direction. Then make it again. Then make it again.
Ask for help. Healing does not exist in solitude.

Think about what traits you need to channel to expand your capacity.
Plug into those.
Embody them.

Work gently and with intention into the change.
Lean with kindness into the unwinding.
Unfurl at your own pace.
But participate. Always participate.

Let’s rock this thing.
karen

PS – The quote in the image has been attributed to at least 4 people
including Jean Michel Basquiat and Denis Waitley

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toolsetting

I have this Talisman. It’s a gorgeous weaving of 3 types of metal wire, in the form of a pouch.
I often wear it around my neck like a medicine bag placing small tokens (other talismans) in it that I need to plug into for that day.

Sometimes I keep it empty. It’s incredibly powerful in its symbolism alone.
It’s a container for what I need. And those needs change.

Health, wellness and healing are nonlinear. Nor are they flat.
And our approach to these things can not be one-dimensional.
We have various needs. And those needs change.

We are complex, multidimensional, dynamic beings.
Physical, Mental, Emotional, Energetic.
We need movement. We need rest.
We need sovereignty. We need connection.

It’s not and/or it’s and/but.

We can not limit our approach to wellness to simply addressing symptoms.
Or even prevention.
Limitation does not equal health.

Eating well and moving your body is just as important as quiet times of reflection
and connecting with people who support you.
Doing things that bring you joy, caring for your teeth, even dressing in a way
that makes you feel comfortable and confident are all on the spectrum too.

And so we need a toolbox.
A different toolbox for everyone because everyone’s medicine is different.

What works, what doesn’t, what you’re drawn to, what you’re curious about.
What works occasionally, what brings you joy and pleasure and eases pain.
What shifts your mindset, calms your nerves, revs you up.
What changes your perspective, connects you to something bigger, higher.
What helps you move with ease. What helps you navigate the road ahead.
What inspires you, what reduces inflammation, what clarifies your trauma.
What opens your heart, what gets you through. What helps you pay attention.
What makes you think, what makes you feel.
What helps.
What is easy and accessible when you are on the cold tile of the bathroom floor or deep under blanket fort on your bed having convinced yourself you can’t and actually don’t want to do a single thing for yourself at that moment.

All these things.

My personal toolbox is quite extensive. More like a toolshed.
Some things remain true and steady. Many are more fluid, ever changing.

My medicine today may not be my medicine tomorrow.

Some of my tools are objects:
Crystals, MELT roller, hot water bottle, running shoes, vitamix, tarot deck. A word.

Some are actual remedies:
Homeopathy, herbs, essential oils, clean food.

Some are people.
My girlfriends, my teachers, my massage therapist.

Often my most healing medicine is a verb.
Cooking, hiking, seeing live music, writing, looking at art.
I’d keep listing but I prefer you explore and find yours.

Each day I try to ask myself what I am devoted to.
And what my needs are so that I can show up fully.
Then I lift the lid and choose.

On very rare occasions my answer is laying on the couch in pain,
choosing nothing but feeling sorry for myself.
On those very rare occasions, though totally un-helpful, I find I am devoted to wallowing.
That’s when the easy-to-grab tools come in handy. Like an essential oil or a song.
They pull me out of the hard.

But generally, daily, I make self care sacred.

I am responsible for me.
And I need all the help I can get.

Take some time to dig through your toolbox. Ask yourself some questions.
What are you already doing?
What’s in there that you haven’t used in a long long time?
What’s no longer serving you?
What part of your body or aspect of your life is feeling neglected?
Who can help you figure out more and diverse tools?
What are some ways you can get more use out of your tools?
What are some ways you can get better access to your tools?
What are you devoted to?
What is your medicine?

How can you make self care sacred?

let’s rock this thing.
karen

084224400128849083f8851ac9f3b832

It’s no secret I have a great distrust in doctors.
This is based on my own personal disappointment over and over again over many many years.
Long before I even got sick.

So, when I was deep in the swamps of feeling awful, I followed my intuition.
I read, explored and experimented, which helped me feel a little better but not enough.

With hesitance, I went for blood work to see if I could learn more. And I did.
My Epstein Barr diagnosis gave me a name, something to hold on to,
and what I’d hoped would be some direction. But there was practically no info on EBV out there.
Only the promise I’d have it forever.
The doc who read my blood tests didn’t even tell me what it was.

So I chugged along. Frustrated, lost and kind of freaked.
I felt like a fraud for having a business called Wellbody.
But I was not giving up.
I had a million symptoms and it was messing with my whole life but no towel would be thrown in.

A few years (yes years) later a friend I am forever grateful to told me about the Medical Medium
and I knew instantly this was my answer. My life line.
There was no question in my heart or mind or gut.
I devoured his book on mystery illnesses, got organized and dove right in to his protocols
with near miraculous success.

And so I spread the gospel.

In Spring I worked with a woman in debilitating pain and other seemingly unrelated symptoms –
and who, by the way coped with complete and total grace and calm.
(I was in awe since I had always felt like a basket case.)
It was no surprise she’d been to every kind of doctor and received every kind of non-answer, including telling her it was all in her head.

After one of our sessions, I shared my story, told her about the book (which she had but hadn’t read)
and which plan might be helpful for her symptoms.
I wanted her to feel empowered.
I wanted her to have her life back.
I told her of his extensive knowledge, the healing cleanse and how it changed (read: saved) my life.

She listened with great interest and asked,
“So how did you find a doctor who would let you do this cleanse?”

(insert sound of needle scratching across a record.)

Honestly my first thought was “Fuck That.” But I was more professional.
“I didn’t tell any doctor. I made this choice,” I answered.
“I knew it was right for me and I didn’t need anyone’s permission to do it.”

She looked at me as if all my teeth suddenly fell out.

And my heart broke a little.

Because I get it. I get the fear.
I’ve had the fear.
The fear of the pain (or fatigue or brain fog or depression or sleeplessness or..).
The fear of what it does to every part of your life.
The fear of what if you’re going to be like this for the rest of your life.
The fear of feeling crazy.
The fear of not having any answers. At all.
The fear of being dismissed by professionals. And loved ones. Who think it’s not real or serious
or are so totally over your whiney ass.
Of not being able to trust your own body.
Of feeling unable, unsexy, unhinged.

But.

What if, in spite of all that you could still trust your body?
More so, what if you could trust your gut?
What if you could reach down deep, grab hold of and embrace your beautiful strong reliable
inner wisdom?
What if you could ask your body what it needed and gave it a chance to tell you?
And you actually listened.
What if you had the authority over your body, your truth, what you need
and who
could truly help you help yourself?

Could you be sovereign?

This word came in to my world through two different people I consider my teachers
within a few months of each other and with two different takes on the concept.
This word intrigued me. This word made me want to dig deeper.
This word both softened and strengthened me.

Then months later this question from my client was like a splash of cold water in my face.
It was the validity that I had indeed become a sovereign being.
But it was also the reality of how greatly we struggle with dependence on other people’s authority
(or the facade of it), and other people’s opinions on how we should live our life.

So I ask again. Could you be sovereign?

Even with pain. Even with illness. Even without all the answers.

And what could that look like?

You making choices.
You owning your choices.
You making mistakes.
You owning your mistakes.

Not you being alone, but rather independent with connection. With community.

This is you making decisions about what you buy, what you consume, what ingredients make up your food, how you take care of yourself, who you choose to help you, who you choose to listen to.

This is you trusting you.

This is you having boundaries and you being responsible and you listening to your body and you taking action.

This is you questioning or even stepping away from health care providers that don’t listen to you, don’t respect you or simply dismiss you.

This is you being your own authority on how you should look or act or be in the world.

This is an active role.

Can you still trust doctors and be sovereign?
Can you be sick or in pain and be sovereign?
Can you ask for help and still be sovereign?
Can you not have all the answers and still be sovereign?

yesyesyesyes.

The key is being present. With yourself.
And realizing you do have an inner wisdom. Your gut. Your intuition. We all have it.
It’s like a compass pointing north. It will not lead you astray.

It doesn’t mean you won’t have doubt or fear at times.
But the more you tune in to it, the more you trust it, the more clear you’ll be
and the less you will doubt or fear.
You’re a grown up. You know what’s right and wrong, and right for you.

What I have learned is that sovereignty is synonymous with health and wellbeing.
And health is having options. Choices.
And the authority to make them for my own body. On my own terms.
Even when sick or in pain.

let’s rock this thing.
karen

PS – Anthony William is coming out with a second book.

 

Irise

 

I’ve been doing a lot of personal work around stepping into the next octave of my life.
On every level.
Sometimes there’s big expanses of progress.
Sometimes it feels like I stepped in hot tar.
Like I’m moving forward and I take another step and my foot gets this tacky feeling.
It wants to move but something sticky is preventing the movement.
Am I’m like, but I’m doing all this work, why is nothing shifting?

I just went on a 4-day solo (soul oh!) retreat to a little cabin in the woods.
Time alone. Time in nature. Unscheduled time.
I packed a trunk load of books, journals, crystals, essential oils, MELT roller, Epsom Salts,
face mask, tarot deck. I wanted wellness. And I wanted options.

The first day I laid on the floor for 3 hours. It felt like the best place to be.
Grounding, staring at the ceiling. Getting my bearings.
I got up, and went for a powerful energy session from the mystical woman who owns the place.
There was talk of symbols, my sacrum and something about forgiveness when I dozed off.
I cooked. I ate outside. I breathed the woods.
I took a bath. I slept long.

The next morning I got on my roller, faked a couple of yoga poses, showered,
ate breakfast outside. I journaled about the night before.
This was goodness.

I was curious how the rest would unfold. I didn’t want to create an agenda.
Organic was what I was going for.
What was needed next?

I grabbed the tarot. Seemed a good place to start. I had only pulled cards twice before, but
Guidance was welcome.
I shuffled.
I held one hand on my heart and the other on the deck.
Tuning into to that vibration, I asked out loud, “What do I need to focus on today?”
I cut the deck and chose.
The Judgement Card.
deep breath.
I tried to interpret the gorgeous illustration with no luck.
I opened the guidebook. Well lookee that..

On the top of the page it said JUDGEMENT.
And just below it, it read FORGIVENESS.
hmm.

According to Kim Kranz the gifted artist who created The Wild Unknown deck:

                        “…it’s about seeking truth.
                        No more blaming yourself or others, no more excuses.
                        Now is the time for forgiveness & personal freedom.
                        …rise up, let pettiness and fear fall below you.
                        Expand your wings & be reborn. What a relief it will be.”

Of course. duh.
This is where I need to start. The tar.
Where I’ve been avoiding and fighting and refusing and brushing off for, like ever.
This may explain why not all of my petals were unfolding.
Perhaps it was time to push up my proverbial sleeves and deal with it.

Ok but I needed some words of wisdom. Some insight that I couldn’t ignore.
An inspirational quote to get me started.
Guidance was welcome.
Obvious first choice, Brené Brown. I found some juicy bits online, took notes,
shook my head yes.
And then a story she told led me to Desmond Tutu.
And there it was.

Totally paraphrased:

                        It’s ok to be angry. You wouldn’t be angry if you didn’t love. It’s human.
                        Forgiveness is the belief that you can come out on the other side a better person.
                        Better than being consumed by it. If you can forgive you are no longer chained.
                        It’s not forgetting or walking away from accountability or condoning a hurtful act.
                        It’s taking back and healing our lives so we can truly live.

Well I could certainly get on board with that.

I don’t know that it was anymore accessible than things I’d read about forgiveness before.
Well, yeah, it probably was. But more so, I was just ready.
To let it sink in. To apply it to my life.
To stop fighting it.

I made a list of 5 people. The first to come to mind.
I was one of them.

I took out a pad of paper and wrote letters.
Letters of understanding, explanation, clarity, apology for my role and finally forgiveness.
It was uncomfortable and teary and tense.
It uncovered some rather startling revelations.
It was a flood of memories.
It was compassion I couldn’t find before.

I took each paper, folded it up and set it in a cast iron pan.
And burned them.
I watched each note turn to ash, which took longer than I expected, which was poignant in itself.

I took the pan outside and buried the ashes in the earth under sticks and dead leaves.
Maybe something beautiful will grow from them.

Then I realized I never wrote the note to myself.
Well that’s certainly telling.

I went back in and sat down to write.
It was full of ick and blergh.
And forgiveness.

I burned it but kept the ashes in the pan.
I needed to go for a long walk in the hot sun.

I came back, ate lunch and felt ready.

I poured the ashes in my hand and walked out.
I found a patch of wet dirt and followed my instinct to rub the ashes into it till they were gone.
I felt the need to rub the mud in my hands and wipe it on my arms like war paint.
It seemed apropos to the journey.

If I am chained (or stepping in hot tar) I can’t move. And therefore I can’t help.
If I am being pulled backward I can’t move forward.
If I keep tripping on something behind me, I’m a fool. And a klutz.
The end.

I don’t mean this to sound quick or easy. This is the abridged version.
It was a long time coming and followed a whole lotta work.
And it’s still fresh so there may be setbacks.
Part of the work I’m doing is learning to listen more and deeper. To people, to bodies, to signs.
I didn’t want to project an agenda on this weekend.
If I did, I can assure you Forgiveness would not have been on my To Do list.
But that was my card. And I knew it.

Look, I’m clearly no expert in the forgiveness arena. I’m a rookie.
In fact, I’m brand spanking new.

Funny, that’s exactly how it made me feel.

let’s rock this thing.
karen

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joandidion
My baby just turned 7.
A month later, she finished first grade and her time in the Lower School.
Ev-er-y-one asked her if she was excited about summer and 2nd grade.
She was not.
She loved first grade. She was suddenly starting 4 weeks of camp, a bunch of travel,
and a lot of unclear non-plans before going to the Upper School.

It was a lot to process.
Nerves were frayed. Anxiety was running high.

With a shaky voice she said,
“Mama, I’m having all these weird feelings in my body I’ve never felt in my whole life.
I never thought I would feel this way. I don’t know what it’s called and I can’t explain it.”

I held back my own tears.
“Oh Baby, you are going through a whole lotta transitions.
Things are ending, other things are beginning. It’s scary and exciting and strange.
So I totally understand you feeling weird. It’s expected.
Feel it all. None of it is wrong.
But I should tell you, it never gets any easier.
Grownups also have weird feelings they can’t explain when things change.
Does that make any sense?”

She put her hand on my heart as she does when she needs to feel it beating.
“Yes. But it doesn’t make it any easier.”

“I know baby, I know.”

I really really know.

Whether you’re willingly unzipping and stepping out of what you’re done with,
or being forced to, it’s usually not the most comfortable situation.
I imagine a hermit crab outgrowing its shell.
Or a peeling sunburn.

It’s a death. Of the familiar, the known.
It doesn’t matter if it’s an old boyfriend, an old habit, an old job or first grade.

Shifting into unknown territory, no matter how positive, freeing or necessary,
can make you feel awkward in your own skin.
It can be dizzying and ungrounding like you stepped into a room of funhouse mirrors.
It may even be painful.
I have willingly gone though transitions (that I previously avoided)
that tore me apart and ripped me open.
The burning off of fears and old stories, well, burns.

Sometimes it aches. As in stomachaches. Headaches. A literal pain in the neck.
Trust me. My massage table has bore witness to countless emotional releases.

Don’t let it change your mind. Don’t let it stifle you.

But also, don’t disengage from the ick.

Don’t just go to your happy place. Feel all the feels. Mourn what you’re shedding.
Cry on the cold tile bathroom floor.
Scream, dive into ecstatic dance, punch your pillow, fill a journal, jump into a bath or a pool,
breathe big breaths. Have a full on tantrum if you need to. Take a crazy long nap.
Hell, drink some wine and eat some cookie dough if the spirit moves you.

It doesn’t have to be pretty and tranquil. This is not the time for restraint.

But then be grateful for it. Try to unravel what your fears are. Let it make you feel alive.
It’s metafreakinmorphosis baby.
It is an opportunity to learn about yourself. To reach down and pull out your fierceness.
But also your grace and light.
To step into your power.

Give yourself permission.

Say Yes to Yourself.

There is some juicy energy there and once you freak a bit, channel it.
Put that storm of electricity into what’s to come, how you want to shape it,
what you want it to look like. Visualize.

Of course you won’t know what it’s like ’til you’re in it.
There’s a lot of What If’s.
But. What If It’s Amazing?

Yes your situation will be different. But so will you. And that is a beautiful thing.
You get to change. You get to be shiny and new.

There are many cycles of life while we’re here.
Deaths and rebirths fill a life.

It’s never not weird.
And also never not magical.

I love my Little for articulating her feelings so beautifully and vulnerably through her confusion.
I hope she’ll let me guide her through her transitions for a while, even while navigating my own.

let’s rock this thing.
karen

sign
Why do we struggle so hard with listening to ourselves or doing what’s good for our body?

Is it that we’ve accepted how things are or how we feel as our normal?

I should…workout, meditate, change the way I eat, stretch, (insert anything you should do).

I am at one end of this conversation a lot.

Sometimes it’s an apology from someone who hasn’t gotten to any of my self-care suggestions.
Sometimes it’s with a client who just can’t commit.
Sometimes it’s with myself.
    Why have I barely moved my body in days? I should really move my body.

I am not judging you.
I ask you not to judge you.
I try not to judge me.

Should is such a loaded word.
Who says you should?
Why should you?
No, seriously. Why should you?
I ask because I want to make sure your answer aligns with your beliefs and not what’s been projected upon you.
Otherwise, it may not motivate you and may actually be stopping you.
(You, rebel, you.)

Logically, we know it will make us feel better.
So, you’d think that would be enough.
And if it was, we wouldn’t have a problem.

So maybe, we need to dive deeper. And ask ourselves what that means.
We need something to sink our teeth into.
I believe clarity is called for in this situation.

How does that translate for you? What could “feeling better” really mean?

Here’s my perspective:

If you feel better,
More is possible.
You do more, give more, show up bigger.
For yourself and your work and all the people in your life.
You see more clearly.
You live with less pain. Or anger. Or fear. Or frustration.
You’re more present, more efficient, feel more joy.
You judge yourself less.
You inspire others.
You have more freedom.

These are broad statements.
Take them. Please. Run with them. Far. Get specific with each one.
What exactly do you want to do and how exactly do you want to be?
Write it down. Say it out loud.

Make a choice.

It’s simple, not easy.

Sometimes I would love to eat a different way. Less restrictions. Fewer guidelines.
It would make things easier for my family, for my mornings, for eating at restaurants, for travel. But I would feel like crap.
And I’d be sick. And everyone around me would pay.
And I would actually have way less freedom because I’d feel too shitty to do anything.

And so I choose.
To get up at ridiculous o’clock in the morning to prep.
To make sure I have the right snacks for me when I’m out.
To ask questions in restaurants.
To cook when I’m beat.
To not eat certain foods even when I really want them.

But I struggle in other areas.
I can go days, weeks filling my time with everything important but exercise.
And I’m like, waah my neck is wonky, I feel weak, I am soo tired. Waah.

As in nature, and with all things – What you feed, grows.
What you put your time, attention, intention and sweat into – changes, evolves, gets better, improves.
Positively or negatively, by the way. – If you feed the choice to prioritize something else, that is what grows.

You are in charge. You are the only one that can do it.
The yoga only works if you do it. The MELT balls only work if you use them.
The meditation only shifts things if you commit.
The nutrients in those whole, clean foods only get in your body if you put them there.

That’s really it.

It’s simple, not easy.

You have to make the choice.
And then you have to make it again.
And then you have to make it again.
And then you have to make it again.
And then you have to make it again.

Even when you don’t want to. Even when you’re tired and it sucks and your busy an you don’t have time. Even when it’s hard.
Even when it’s cold and rainy or hot and humid and you have a deadline. Or it’s Wednesday. And it’s the absolute last thing you would ever want to do.
Do it anyway.

Why?
You’ll feel better.

let’s rock this thing.
karen

 

crooked

 

Sometimes the path to healing gives you whiplash.

As I’ve posted before I’ve been living with chronic illness (EBV) for about 7 years, maybe more.
Over the years I’ve done a whole lot of experimenting with food and supplements and lifestyle
in an effort to feel better.
It’s been like walking up a sand dune. One step forward, slide back two.
Get a leg up, make a little progress, feel kinda shitty again.

Then some incredible information came out that changed everything. Real answers.
In January I did a fairly intense 28-day healing cleanse. It was pretty freaking miraculous.
And I’m not just saying that for effect.
But I knew it wasn’t over.
I hadn’t quite killed the virus and I felt it in my bones (well, my organs).
And that was ok. I knew it could take months, maybe a year.

For the next two weeks I stuck with a lot of the protocols, while navigating the waters
of integrating new (old) foods and gauging how my body responded to them.
Then I went on vacation. I brought my herbs, made my smoothies, used caution.
I did yoga, I took a kick boxing class. I was rockin’ this vacay.

The day before leaving I got sick. Really sick. I’m talking 3 weeks of sick, with weird symptoms,
2 trips to Urgent Care, blood tests for everything and negative results across the board.
Meaning, I have no idea what the hell happened.

I stuck with what I knew I needed to get well.
And I knew when the bug finally left my body.
I immediately recognized my body again – unfortunately as my body pre-cleanse.
A whole bunch of things the cleanse had “healed” had somehow re-set and seemed to settle
comfortably into their familiar homes of my liver and my spine and my emotions.

Did you just hear the sound of a needle scratching across a record?

Wait, wasn’t I just healing? Wasn’t I just feeling better than I’d felt in years, if not ever?
Wasn’t I just superwoman?

I knew the only thing that would help me again was the cleanse.
I did most of the protocols. But not all. I wasn’t committing.
I like cooked food. It was a lot of work. I was in pain. I was tired. Blah freaking blah.

Two weeks later, still feeling like crap, I got real and dove in again.
28 days. All raw. All. the. time. In winter. Again.
I upped my supplements. I embraced the process.

By day 7 I felt good again. Day 13 I felt amazing.
For the last few weeks I’ve been exploring food re-integration. Again.
I’ve had drinks. With alcohol.
I even went away again and explored eating foods I normally wouldn’t eat anyway.
And I’m good. I’m really good.

It’s not done yet.  But I’m staying present and listening to my body
and what it needs to keep getting better and stronger.

Right now I’m putting that sand dune in its place.
One step forward. One step forward.

I am a living, dynamic being.
There will always be a back and forth. And a whole bunch of zig zags.
Maybe with EBV, probably with other things. Sickness, heartache, injury. Life.
I observe. I listen. I usually pay attention. And I adjust.
I follow my intuition. I make my own choices. I ask for help.

I know pain sucks. And I know if you’re in it, you want out of it.

There is learning in the back and forth. There are gifts in deviation.
They may be really hard to find when you’re chest-high in frustration and confusion.
But they’re there. These golden nuggets (or needles in a haystack) of wisdom and empowerment
when you connect to your body a little deeper and grab some faith
that the path will shift again and progress will happen.

And maybe there’s a redefining of progress.
Maybe it takes the shape of something else. Unexpected.
Like patience or rest or enjoying the precious details of life from a slower pace.
Or trust in yourself rather than a doctor.
Becoming a sovereign being even if your body feels as if it’s not your own.

Healing is not linear.
As convenient as that might be, that’s just not how it works.
The whole shortest-distance-between-2-points thing doesn’t apply here.
There are cycles and shifts and twists and switchbacks but that does not mean failure
or that your body doesn’t want to heal or that you screwed up somehow.
You are not crazy even if it makes you feel like you are.

Keep going anyway.

You’ll become resilient. You’ll hone your superpowers. You’ll find what you need.
You’ll learn that what you need is fluid and changing.
When you eat nourishing foods and create your support system and rest and get bodywork you’re creating health and strength even if it doesn’t feel that way – because you have no idea how you’d fare without it.

A wise woman recently asked me, “When do you give up?”

When you give up, you give up.

Stay on your path. Stick with the crooked. The backslides.
And keep going anyway.

Let’s rock this thing.
karen

kiwiimage by Dennis Wojtkewicz

I grew up on frozen fish sticks and spaghetti, a jar of Prego, canned asparagus,
a can of fruit cocktail and a 2-liter bottle of Sprite.

Sometimes it was cling peaches in heavy syrup.

My mom worked, had two kids, a full social life and no great love for the kitchen.

Somehow, someway in high school, I began to cook.
I was glued to The Frugal Gourmet and Julia Child and Yan Can Cook.
Even when I had a mohawk.
What.
Yes.
I was making stuff. Having fun. For at least 10 people.
We were a family of 4.
So what that I didn’t know what I was doing.

I seriously love everything about food.
Books, shows, movies, grocery stores, greenmarkets, cook books,
chopping, slicing, mincing, mixing, blending, roasting, basting, eating.
And sharing.
I even dig making the grocery list.

My husband, not so much. Though I’d love to cook with him.
But, he enjoys cleaning, which I absolutely do not – so we’re good.
A lot of people are not into it. I get it.
We live in a city teeming with the best restaurants and everything can be delivered.

So, allow me to wax poetic about food and cooking.
I want to inspire. Tempt you.
And, perhaps, I can lure you into the kitchen.

It’s an obvious start but let’s indulge the 5 main senses.

The sheer diversity of form and color of fruits and vegetables and how that changes when you peel them
and how that changes more as they’re cooked and how they’re cooked I find delightful.
I mean come on, knobby ginger, runny soft-cooked yolks, the hairy ends of leeks.
Soft fresh plump figs and Vidalia onions that go translucent as they caramelize on the slow and low.

The bright scent of lemons and earthy garlic and pungent cheese. Coconut oil and fresh torn sage.
Indian curry and musky melon and burning charcoal are memories and possibility.

The distinct crunch of a macintosh, popping sizzling oil and rapidly boiling water.
Even the shrill sound of sharpening a knife which makes me cringe and happy at the same time.

Fuzzy kiwi skin, sticky drips from a jar of honey, the prickly sides of aloe and the healing slime inside.
The popping of ikura on your tongue, stealing a smear of frosting on your finger.
Squeezing for ripeness.

Salty. Sweet. Spicy. Sharp. Charred. Tangy. Sour. Tart. Rich. Savory. Umami.
It’s even pleasurable to say. Umami.
Ooh you know how some dishes are better the next day as the flavors meld and settle?
And how a sprinkle of sea salt casts magic on chocolate?

And beyond all this is how the act of making something makes me feel.
Creating something that’s greater than the sum of it’s parts.
Finding joy in experiments that fail.

Honoring myself by taking the time to prepare something with care and attention and beauty, even when alone.
To make something that when I eat it will bring me closer to health.
To carefully select produce and read labels and stain my cookbooks and make stuff up
and make messes.

To go beyond satisfied. To be sated.
To invest invest in my wellbeing.
To tend to me.

Making my own choices. Buying my own ingredients.
Feeding myself based on what I know in my bones my body needs.

Sharing love with my friends and family. Caring for them, Nourishing them.
Thinking about them and what they might like. What their bodies might need.
Wanting to share something I love or am excited about or proud of.
Feeding their hearts as well as their bellies.
Gaining a greater appreciation for where real food comes from, how things go together.

Yes it takes a bit of time. Rare and precious time.
Hey I’m not pushing for gourmet. I certainly don’t in my own kitchen.
Crack a cookbook. Or follow your intuition.
Take risks but don’t feel daunted. It shouldn’t overwhelm you.
You may be surprised by how delicious simple can be.

Be careful though, you just may create ritual.
Food could become your Sunday sacred time.
The mindfulness of preparing for your week ahead, or just a warm, fragrant home cooked meal.
It nourishes everything.

let’s rock this thing.
karen

PS – Here are some movies, shows and books I love about food:

Like Water for Chocolate

Cooked

Chef’s Table

Big Night

Eat Drink Man Woman

seed>fruitoflife

I am blessed.
I have incredible women in my life.
I do.
Brave, gifted, creative, fierce, kind, compassionate, witty, funny, wise, strong women. Friends.
Dear, dear friends.
My tribe.
Some are plane rides away. Or subways. Or a couple of doors.
Our bonds hold no matter how much time has passed.
Which is so easy to take for granted in the minutiae of life.
Just with the friends in my own city it is uncanny how challenging it is to just be together.
In the same place. At the same time.
So many many reasons.
I have been been grateful just knowing they’re there. Somewhere.

I think even when I was younger I always had at least one or two stellar woman in my orbit.
But for a long time I didn’t know how to be with them. They seemed in my eyes to shine brighter.
To be other.

And for a while I was working this bullshit lone wolf thing.
I can do everything! All! By! My! Self!

And then last year I got all the feelings. The need. The longing. The missing.

I needed more.

My old-soul daughter, age 6, says of people you feel connected to, that you love or are attracted to that you feel magnetic them.

And magnets attract to each other.

And as some of my truest friendships have deepened I’ve realized that we all shine bright in each others’ eyes. We can and need to be vulnerable with each other. We can listen and empathize and joke and support and vent and laugh and cry and express and understand or not-but-be-there-anyway. And thrive.
And be totally and completely ourselves.

They are just as magnetic to me.
I have just as much to offer them.

I named 2016 My Year of Movement and Connection.
I am reaching out and showing up and I am asking for my people to connect with me like puzzle pieces. I am asking new people I feel a connection with to be my people.

I am joining in, taking part, belonging.
And fostering new shiny chains with beautiful powerful links.
What this does for my heart and soul and ego and smallness is pure magic.

It’s not dependency. Or neediness or burdening. It is fulfilling and energizing and goes both ways and is necessary.
It is support and love and being heard and being needed.

I did my 28-day healing cleanse in January with two other women. We never saw each other once but emailed each other almost daily from weeks before we started until today.
Help, support, soundboards, witnesses, guidance, cheerleading, recipes.
It got us all through and beyond.
Our little community was part of the healing.

On the first Monday in January one of my far away loves sent a group text to me and two others. We immediately responded and this 4-way text is still going on more than two months later. Sometimes it’s just good morning and a shout out to rock the day. More often, it’s day-long conversations between clients/meetings/family about our work and our challenges and showing up in the world and mountains that need to be moved.
We are literally in this together.

Every year, at the beginning of ‘treat, my annual women’s wellness extravaganza, I tell everyone they may be surprised by how much of an affect they will have on each others’ experience.
And I just watch.
I witness these women come together like puzzle pieces.
Clickclick. Oh, you’re my people? I wouldn’t have known. Yes you are my people!

The sharing, the stories, the openness, the acceptance  – in a weekend – is remarkable. And when I realized many of them have stayed connected throughout the year(s), I got inspired to create The Well, a monthly gathering for all the alumni to deepen the bond, expand the circle, keep learning. To keep connecting. Clickclick.
To fill our well.
The sisterhood is the heart of the wellness.

And what might be the most beautiful lesson I’ve learned about myself – and what I see in each of us in my various orbits, is that the more we connect, the more of ourselves we become.
The connections don’t disconnect us from ourselves but help us recognize our true selves more clearly.
To shine brighter in our own eyes.

A community, even of two, is greater than the sum of its parts.
There’s nothing wrong with being a lone wolf.
But even she gets stronger touching base with the pack.

let’s rock this thing.
karen

PS – Here’s the ever-awesome Brené Brown on connection, vulnerability and shame.
Check it.

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