When I was 12, I started experiencing excruciatingly painful migraine headaches.
I still remember the first one, which was very scary since I had no idea what was happening.
I felt dizzy, my vision started to get weird, and I felt numbness on one side of my body.
My mom was scared that maybe I was having a stroke, given the numbness on one side of my body.
A trip to the doctor determined these were migraine headaches…
And a whole new chapter of my life began with most of my teenage years being filled with this headaches that could at times be so bad that they required a trip to the ER for high doses of pain meds.
After the first couple experiences of these debilitating headaches, I became very superstitious about various circumstances that might have caused them.
Since we couldn’t figure out an obvious trigger for them, I started to associate the place I was at when the came on, the thing that I was doing, or especially the lighting of that place as my potential triggers (without real evidence that this was true)…
My world got smaller and smaller as I didn’t want to go back to some places, do certain things, go places with bright or flashing strobe lights and I was TERRIFIED that I’d get another headache resulting in another ER trip.
It wasn’t until I was in college that the intensity and frequency of the headaches went away, as I learned to begin to manage my stress.
While I have long understood that these headaches taught me a great deal about how I could use relaxation to help control and eventually eliminate them from my life, it was only last month that I connected them to something else in my life…
Being an empath and a highly sensitive person.
In preparing a talk with my friend Laura Rowe, who specializes in working with empaths, I had a light bulb moment that my headaches actually could have been a way that I was trying to block out my sensitivities.
Of course not consciously… but on a subconscious level.
You see, being someone who could sense other’s emotions, pick up what wasn’t being said, and who was just sensitive to a world that is loud, sometimes crowded, and often overwhelming, I was often overwhelmed.
In talking to Laura, I realized that it is actually COMMON for empaths to experience headaches because it is like a way to try and block out all the noise we are bombarded with.
Fascinating discovery for me.
And this is EXACTLY what Laura and I will be talking about in our upcoming online class “Unraveling” on December 3.
If you are curious how being an empath or a highly sensitive person might be connected to physical symptoms and health issues, we invite you to join us.
INSIDE I CRINGED WHEN EVERY CONVERSATION BEGAN WITH “HOW ARE YOU FEELING??”
After I was told (incorrectly) that I had leukemia back in 2004, I remember feeling like all the parts of me, all of the pieces of my identity that had existed before were gone.
The Lyn that was the daughter, the friend, the grad student, the dancer, the healthy and alive woman… all the parts of me, suddenly disappeared.
One minute all those parts of me existed and in that instant of hearing that I had cancer, it was like “poof” those parts of me were gone.
In the months that followed my diagnosis, I felt like the only part of me that was seen by anyone was “the sick person” or “the cancer patient.”
Every conversation with a friend seemed to begin with “How are you feeling?” or “How is your treatment going?”
While it was nice to know that people did care about me, it was also extremely painful to feel like I was reduced to this one identity of sick person.
I longed for all the other parts of me to still be seen, acknowledged, talked to and talked about…
It felt really lonely to be seen in only this way.
Yet I felt like it wasn’t ok to say, “You know, I’d really rather talk about something else…”
WHEN WE ARE GIVEN A LIFE-CHANGING HEALTH DIAGNOSIS, IT CAN FEEL LIKE THIS ONE THING BECOMES OUR ENTIRE IDENTITY… LIKE WE LOSE ALL THE OTHER PIECES OF OURSELVES.
And it’s painful…
Maybe you can feel how much you long to still be seen as wife, as mother, as friend, as daughter, as business woman, AS YOU.
Because this diagnosis is NOT YOU.
Let me say that again…
THIS DIAGNOSIS IS NOT, I REPEAT, NOT WHO YOU ARE.
You are still all of the parts of you that you were BEFORE you heard that diagnosis pronounced.
You might feel a bit worse for the wear, a bit more in pain or symptomatic. Yet those parts of you that seem to have vanished or be ignored are still there.
And it is totally ok (in fact, I encourage it!) for you to voice your needs and desires to talk about other parts of yourself and other parts of your life in conversations.
It is wonderful to say, “I appreciate your concern for me AND I also would love to talk about our relationship and the fun things we can do together today.”
THE LESS YOU ALLOW YOURSELF TO BECOME AND IDENTITY WITH YOUR ILLNESS AND YOUR DIAGNOSIS, THE HAPPIER AND MORE WHOLE YOU WILL FEEL AND THE EASIER IT WILL BE FOR YOUR MIND, MIND AND SPIRIT TO HEAL.
When we don’t let ourselves become identified as this diagnosis, when we still acknowledge all parts of ourselves, we empower ourselves to feel more whole and alive.
And that is a powerful fuel that can be used to heal and transform your health.
I think that many of us have the belief that people like teachers, leaders, and healers have things “figured out.” Like they have gotten to the end goal somehow and their healing is “done”…
Today, I want to share that although this is something we think and maybe we WANT to believe this, it really isn’t the case. Healing and evolving is ongoing for ALL humans while we are here on earth.
I’d like to share one of my own recent (and still ongoing) challenges and growth experiences.
Over the past few months, I have been dealing with some fairly severe pain in my mouth. The first day it came as sharp stabbing pain in the roots of a couple teeth and went away. Then it built to pain moving from place to place in my mouth and feeling like my gums felt very angry.
In working with dentists, it seems like I’ve developed a pretty strong clenching/grinding pattern. My bigger question is WHY this has come up because I don’t think it is for no reason.
I’ve been left these past couple months working on practicing what I teach—listening to my body and what it is saying to me through this pain I’ve been experiencing—which has been very slow to resolve.
To be transparent, some days, the process isn’t easy and I get frustrated and just think “Make it go away now!” A couple weeks ago, I almost took my husband up on his offer of a leftover Vicodin. But I didn’t because that’s not how I want to treat my body.
The process of understanding this pain is like a trail of breadcrumbs that is leading me to messages that my own body’s wisdom and my own higher self are trying to bring to my attention.
Through working through the healing process with other practitioners, I’ve had insights into how some of the pain in my face connects to feeling like I wear a mask at times (and sometimes that mask doesn’t even feel like it is MINE), how I hold myself back from feeling all the joy that is available to me, and most recently, that much of this pattern is about speaking my truth.
Some of you may say “Oh you seem visible and you share your message and your truth here” but there are parts of it that I don’t share—words that it feels like I literally bite back—in my relationships, in my business, even in my connection to myself.
This pain is calling me to go deeper and deeper into the process of being ALL of me, feeling like it is safe to share even the struggles (WHILE I’m in them instead of after I’ve gone through them and feel like I’m clear on the message), and to speak my own truth without apology or fear.
Two weeks ago, a dear friend of mine held space for me. I thought I was just going to be getting some bodywork but instead in our conversation, she asked me how my breathwork practice was going and how it was helping with this pain.
I replied “I haven’t really been doing it because it hurts my mouth when I do the breathing.”
She said I want to hold space for you and be with you here while you do this. I had been feeling that I have NEEDED to do the breathing but when I’m in my own space and the pain surfaces, it is too much and I stop.
By having someone hold sacred space for me, I was able to breathe and face the discomfort.
And what surfaced in that breathing was a profound realization about something that I have hidden from saying to anyone for 15 years. I spoke it out loud, to my friend, and could feel a deep healing begin to occur.
I’m not quite ready to share what came up YET but I realized this is a key piece of my story that I cannot hide if I am telling my own journey. I’m allowing the healing to continue with the part of myself that I let go of 15 years ago before I share this piece of my story publicly but I did hear strong guidance that this is crucial to share when I am telling my story.
So to all of you who think I’ve got it all “figured out” or that I’m so far ahead of you, the reality is, it is still a journey and a process.
Another healer friend describes the process of healing like a spiral… sometimes we come back to deeper layers of something we thought we had healed and there is another layer to address.
Wherever you are on your journey, honor it. Don’t think that you haven’t made strides in your process because you HAVE. But also, don’t look at someone like a healer or a teacher as someone who is done with the process because the Truth is, we aren’t. We might be some steps ahead of you but we are still walking our paths.
Last week I was interviewed by Kole Hansen on her Warrior Women with a Purpose Podcast and it was SUCH a great interview that I wanted to share it with you all!
Kole is also a healer with an amazing story (which she tells on one of the podcast episodes) and we really jammed about the wisdom of our bodies, how things like illness are a wakeup call from the universe and more.
I hope you’ll take a listen and if you enjoyed it, leave a 5 star review on iTunes for the podcast!
I’m getting more and more excited to publish my first book… I wanted to share just a glimpse into my story that will be continued in the book.
When I scheduled my elective surgery for June of 2004, I had absolutely no idea that anything was wrong with me. As far as I knew, I was a healthy 24 year-old who simply was finally going to get the breast reduction that I had wanted since I was 16 years old. Although I was apprehensive about what is still a major surgery and unsure how painful my recovery would be, I was looking forward to the end result.
As the day of my surgery approached, I went through the standard pre-op procedure. Appointments with my surgeon, pre-op blood-work, and waiting for the day of the surgery to arrive. Then the night before my surgery, I received a call from my surgeon. He told me that he had received my pre-op bloodwork back and that the results looked abnormal. My heart began to race…
The surgeon first said that it could be some sort of error with the lab results themselves and asked me to return to the hospital to have the tests run again to make sure of what was going on. Panic was beginning to wash over me. I tried to stay hopeful that it was just a lab error or glitch but hearing something looked “off” was unnerving. We repeated the labs and they showed the same abnormal results.
Another call from the surgeon confirmed that surgery needed to be cancelled because there was something “wrong with me.” The surgeon said I should follow up with my primary doctor as soon as possible to investigate what was going on. My mind was racing. “I feel fine… I feel absolutely fine. What the hell is going on??”
The next day I saw my primary doctor who ordered more bloodwork to try and figure out what was going on. After the labs were drawn, I went home to await the results. I was filled with anxiety about what the lab tests would show was wrong with me. It felt like I had woken up in the middle of a nightmare. Again, it made no sense how I could feel completely fine and yet be told that something big was going on with my health.
Next thing I knew, I got a phone call from a gastroenterologist who I had never heard of asking me how I was feeling. “I feel ok,” I said as I felt a wave of panic rising up over me. He replied that since I wasn’t feeling any symptoms, it was ok to stay home that night but that I should report to the local hospital first thing the next morning, where I would be admitted, and he would see me there. Then he told me “If you start to feel any symptoms, come to the hospital tonight.” Well that was certainly unnerving to hear… I suddenly felt like a ticking time bomb that could go off at any moment.
I was completely shaken after this phone call from an unknown doctor and I waited nervously, continuously scanning through my body to make sure I felt ok until the next morning. In my mind I wondered what exactly I should be looking for in terms of symptoms but no mysterious symptoms appeared as I scanned my body repeatedly through the day and evening. What followed was a long afternoon, evening, and night of waiting and wondering but I was still feeling fine on a physical level so I didn’t report to the hospital until the next morning.
I hope this glimpse into the beginning of my story has peaked your attention and you will be excited to read more. Stay tuned for future sneak peaks into my story and my new book!
April was a month of big expansion for me personally and also for my business. I was speaking and sharing my work in a much more public way. I was stepping into my intention for 2017 of expanding and shining my light brightly and I was starting to feel a big surge of momentum in new clients and visibility for my business.
Then, about 2 1/2 weeks ago, my husband started to develop some significant pain in his feet. My focus has shifted to him as we search to uncover the cause of what is going on and get him relief from the pain.
I have experienced this pattern before in my life and business where momentum builds up, I feel like I’m really getting somewhere and then “something” happens…
In the past, I’ve said that I’ve been “de-railed” by something in my life. But last week, I was talking to my business coach about this pattern that I’ve experienced multiple times over several years. She gain me some great advice and said, “What if you shift your mindset around this and don’t view it as ‘de-railing’ you but instead a natural cycle of contraction after expansion?”
Those words were a very helpful mindset shift for me. You see, I have created a pattern and belief that “Whenever things start getting good, something in life just de-rails it…” In a way, this belief creates a “Why bother?” mentality and it also makes it a bigger deal that it needs to be.
Life happens. People get sick, family members die, someone loses their job… the list goes on and on. It is easy to say those things can “de-rail” us when in reality they are just life being life.
Nature is wise because it understands the cycle of expansion and contraction. Expansion cannot exist without contraction. Even though the seem to be opposites, the really are part of a cycle. A tree must let go of its leaves in the fall to make way for something new to come after a period of dormancy in winter.
So I’m making a major mindset shift and choosing to view this time as simply a time of contraction and life being life. I’ve made huge gains in the past 6 months, grown a lot, pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I’ve stepped into being a public speaker, supported many amazing clients, learned how to use live video in my business and so much more… And just because life is being, well, life, that doesn’t take away any of those things that I’ve accomplished. Those things don’t magically disappear.
It is ok for me to honor a time of contraction from putting as much energy into my business so I can honor my need to support my husband. Honoring that allows me time to be present for him. And it is also bringing me gifts like getting inspired to start writing my very first book!
I hope that this blog post inspires you to shift your mindset when life feels challenging and to honor that it is ok to pull back your energy from certain things to make room for others. I hope you are inspired to realize that contraction is a natural part of the cycle of energy and it is not something to be feared.
If this post helped you, please share it. And please comment with you own stories of expansion, contraction, and mindset struggles.
The sun is shining on this fall morning in Portland and I decided I needed to start my day with a walk outside, rather than heading to the gym. I need to breathe the fresh air and be supported by Mother Nature’s light.
The past few days for me, like for so many others, have been filled with a feeling of dismay, grief, sadness, frustration, anger, and fear. Living in what feels like a bit of a bubble in a progressive place like Portland, it is hard to believe the reality that we are now confronted with. A world where hate, racism, misogyny, and violence have come more fully out of the shadows and are now given legitimacy by the man who is president elect. Just this morning I saw reports of how high school students who are minorities are being targeted by fellow classmates and I am sickened.
To be honest, Tuesday night, I wanted to leave this country. I was saddened, angered, and dismayed that so many people could vote for a man I see as a hateful monster. My husband and I were talking about how to move to Canada… probably along with many other people.
What I have come to see in the past day is that I feel like doing so is running away and leaving those most vulnerable, minorities, people of color, the poor, and the LGBTQ community to fend for themselves when they will need us to stand with them and stand up for justice and their rights.
Before I began my path to this healing work that is now my life’s work, I was a student of history. I have an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in history and was well on my way to my PhD. I think many of us, looking at the history of Nazi Germany, can wonder how that was possible. How someone could come to power espousing such hate. I see the reality of it happening around us now… But the difference is that we have the lessons of history and we have all of the amazing work that Civil Rights activists who went before us have done. We can know the possibilities of what could happen AND we can know that saying “Its not my problem… I’m not black, Hispanic, gay, etc” is what people did in Nazi Germany. We cannot let history repeat itself.
I feel a deep and stirring passion in myself this morning to be part of those standing up and saying “No! You cannot take away the rights, dignity, and safety of those around me who are at risk!” I ask you to stand with me, to start the healing of our country’s deep legacy or racism, bigotry, and misogyny and stand up and say no.
In the midst of so much hate and fear, I have seen people banding together to stand up and fight for what they believe in and to protect and support the most vulnerable among us. This is what I choose to focus on. There is hope even in this dark time.
I plan to offer group healing sessions on a regular basis to support those of us who are being traumatized by what is going on, those who might be being victimized, and those who are ready to stand up with me and say NO! Last night, in seeing the ACLU standing ready to fight for our rights and liberties, I felt that I need to contribute. So for each of these group healing sessions that I offer, part of the money given to me will be donated to the ACLU.
Love trumps hate… Always. We will stand in love and we will win.
Today’s post is a particularly “real” one for me. My husband and I, as well as our extended family have been in the midst of a particularly rough time. Between my aunt passing away a little over 2 weeks ago (while I was in the midst of taking my latest BodyTalk class) to my mother-in-law falling and breaking her leg last week, to some other situations that need our time and attention, I have had significant moments of overwhelm in the past month.
This post is not about the “story” of what is going on in my life, however. It is about reflecting on how we get through tough times like this.
One of the key things that I am getting a reminder of during this past month is the importance of making time for my own self-care, even in the midst of chaos and overwhelm.
As my stress level has been higher than it usually is, I have tried to carve out more time to do things like slow down and focus on my breathing. I’m also tapping Cortices (a simple technique that you can learn how to do through this link) even more than I usually do. I’ve also sought support from others- both family and friends, as well as getting support from different healing practitioners. I’m upping the number of BodyTalk sessions I’m receiving right now to help me process my grief, stress, and overwhelm. I’m tending to my body with massage and other forms of healing touch. While it can feel hard to make time for those things when I have more on my plate than I usually do, I know that without those supports, my bodymind will take too much of a beating. And just because I’m a wellness practitioner doesn’t mean that I don’t need support too!
Another big resource during times like this is to make sure to get a bit of time out in nature. Connection with the energies of the earth and breathing fresh air in beautiful settings is a key way to help stay grounded. I’m hoping to get a nice walk in outside today, rather than going to the gym and walking on the treadmill.
If you are currently going through a tough time, please know that you are not alone. And please remember to take care of yourself. Find simple strategies to help your body release stress, tension, and built up emotions. When we don’t allow the energy to have time to release, it can build up like a pent up volcano and cause all sorts of problems! Seek support (professional and social) when you need it. We all need a little help sometimes.
Also, feel free to share what strategies work best for you in the comments below this blog; I’d love to hear your strategies too!
I’m starting to do a bit of video blogging and I wanted to share with you about how one of my toughest life experiences actually led me to where I am today. I hope it inspires you to know that even in challenges, there are positive outcomes.
Feel free to comment below on what inspired you!