Today, I had an encounter that reminded me that our experiences of safety and agency are often being overridden by those around us and how that experience begins at a very young age.Read More
I want women to be ever reminded that how you birth matters, not because cesareans are wrong but because they MEAN something to your health. But I don't just want to stop there. I want to be a part of the solution to the cesarean epidemic and to the path of healing after a difficult birth or before a next birth.Read More
Dear People Who Comment on My Bare Feet: I've been running into more and more of you lately. At first, I thought this was going to just be a thing I'd keep shrugging off with a polite smile, but a few lines have been crossed, and I'd like to clear the air.Read More
When I knew I'd be moving away from Philadelphia, one of the hardest things to face was the fact that I'd developed a pretty great team for my health and now I'd be leaving it (btw, if you live around Philly and you need people, hit me up - I'll tell who to see).
I'd spent years seeking out and finding people who could help me on my journey toward experiencing life as I longed to: feeling safe and healthy in my body.
The last five years in Philly had a LOT of rough spots.
I had a traumatic cesarean birth.
I delved into childhood sexual abuse.
I faced immense grief, including my mother's death.
I went through two miscarriages.
I developed chronic digestive struggles.
I had pelvic imbalances.
Plus, all the things that came before and were never addressed.
I needed help.
So I worked with regular MDs, integrative/functional doctors, movement teachers, naturopaths, acupuncturists, energy healers, midwives, physical therapists, somatic psychotherapists and body workers.
And not just that, but I read books and blogs and listened to podcasts and consulted colleagues.
In hindsight, all of this exploration right before I got pregnant with my son in 2010.
I discovered the work of John Sarno, who posits that a lot of physical pain we experience is psychosomatic. Emotional and psychic struggles lead to physical adaptations that present as pain and dysfunction.
While Sarno's prescription for addressing this is not something I make use of, his general theories blew me away. I'd had a lot of inexplicable chronic pain and dysfunction and what I learned through his work paved the way for just about everything that was to come.
And you know how I found Sarno? Meditation. I was meditating on my health one day and asking for guidance and felt the strong insight to google. It was what I now call "intuitive googling." :)
So then I had my son and the birth was rough and I wanted to understand it and again I just followed my nose, allowing my explorations to be guided by my feelings, to be guided by my inner sense.
And that work led me to Katy Bowman. Who taught me all about movement. (And certified me to teach you about movement.)
But I still had so much work to do in my own body.
So I kept following my nose. I kept asking around. I kept expanding my boundaries and beliefs. I kept trying new things because it felt right and made some sense even if I couldn't reason it out.
Which led me to my heart, to meditation, to breath work, to combining movement with heart-centered practices, to all those practitioners I mentioned, to study with new teachers. It's what led me into writing and dancing and an amazing ability to navigate my life on different terms. It's what's enabled me to feel trust in my body, to know what is needed and to respond to those needs. It's what led me home to myself.
Which brings me to today.
We've moved across the country and so I've left my team of people that have been helping me with my health.
But I'm still not entirely clear about what's going on with my fertility. And the digestive stuff is definitely not settled. And besides, if you've been following along, you know the transition has been a wee bit stressful for me.
So I need a new team.
I asked around and found a functional medicine doctor who is also an applied kinesiology chiropractor. Now I don't know much about AK chiropractors, but that's never stopped me before. Truthfully, I usually know very little beforehand about the work I seek out...I learn it through practice and by reading/talking later.
All that to say, AK chiros test your neurological function. At my appointment with her, she had me move through a series of movements to determine what parts of me were "on" and which were not. Turns out I have low vagal tone (unsurprising to me and likely causing/contributing to the digestive problems) and that my left bicep is "off."
She also tested my core and hip flexors and pelvis for function, and it was all on.
But here's the MOST AMAZING THING (well, to me, anyway!):
She told me that women who have had c-sections don't have this kind of function.
Something is always not working, especially their hip flexors or parts of their core. She was really, really surprised (and seemed a little baffled) that my body was presenting differently.
It didn't hit me until later how absolutely extraordinary this is.
I'm not a fitness rock star. Half of you reading this can probably do more interesting/challenging things with your body than me, be it pilates roll downs (or is it ups?) or longer planks, or more pull ups or run marathons.
I'm not some spiritual/emotional/belief rock star. I am neurotic and fearful and disbelieving a full 30% of the time. I tend toward anxiety and melancholy. I have asked my husband a thousand times if he thinks I will ever be really done with this "fixing." In other words, I am incredibly inconstant.
I also didn't follow some detailed prescription. No one said, "Hey, women like you don't have function here and you need to do x, y, and z in order to fix yourself." No one said that because, truthfully, it doesn't exist. Or it exists for some things in some ways, but not for all things in all ways. Health is, in so many ways, an n=1 paradigm. I had to cobble my own thing together
As I was meditating this morning (but not for the last 36 mornings - see I'm inconstant!), I realized the power of this.
I realized that I had done this. I had created the conditions through which my body could regain full function after major abdominal surgery. And I did this against the odds.
I had taken myself seriously. I listened to my body, I believed my heart, I paid attention where I had been taught to ignore.
I had explored every avenue that called to me, be it finding a new acupuncturist or exploring vaginal massage or creating a ritual or sleeping on the floor or touching the earth with my skin. I opened my mind and my heart and became willing to go new places.
I had worked my body. I put my hands on it. I moved it more and in different ways. I studied it and slowed down the movements and found where I get stuck. I worked at the edge of my boundaries. I did this over and over and over again.
I had gotten help. A lot of it. I spent a lot of money. I invested a lot of time.
I changed my life. My relationships, my habits, my geography, my food, my beliefs.
Most of us are going around with lots of ourselves in the "off" position. This is hard on our biology. Not having full function requires adaptations that can turn into disease and dysfunction. This happens because of stress, because of surgery, because of injury, because of sedentary living, because of too much blue light, because...
But here's the thing about my story: I didn't stay in the off position. Even though that's what normally happens.
After meditating this morning, I felt so enlivened by my own story! I felt such excitement about the possibilities for what happens when you follow your intuition, when you move forward even though you aren't sure what you're doing, when you change your life even though you can't always see an immediate benefit. I felt so excited about MOVING.
For years I've been tuning into my body, getting support, educating myself, changing my habits, taking on new exercises. But you can't always see what's happening IN the body. And there's only so much I know about the body, only so many of its languages that I speak, so I haven't been able to quantify all of the changes, even if I've noticed them.
To have it reflected back to me in this doctor's visit was a delightfully validating experience.
I beat the odds.
I created something unusual.
(This is what Restore Your Wild is about. I literally can't give you a prescription that's going to take your ailments away, that's going to fix your life. What I CAN give you is a pathway to your wild self - a pathway of movement, a pathway of reflection, a pathway of inspiration, a pathway of belief work, a pathway of creation. Because it's never going to be me or anyone else who makes this happen for you. It's your wild self who is going to guide you down YOUR path to the life and health and movements you need. I'm here to bring you into contact with your wild self.)
I've taken my journey as an act of faith. I've done all of this as an act of intuition. I've kept going as an act of integrity.
Turns out, it was the right choice.
You need to move. It helps you meet your basic biological needs. And enhance your relationships. And deepen your sense of community. And grow in love. And be available for the big questions in life.Read More
It's not just today we need to be looking out for when we are choosing between the floor and a chair, when we are choosing between corrective exercises and stiffer shoe, when we are choosing between sitting on the sacrum or rolling the pelvis forward, when we are choosing between a walk and mindless time on the internet.
It's tomorrow, too.
Our feet are important. They contain 1/4 of all the bones in the body and an absurd amount of joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons. For most of us, they are the primary way we have of moving our bodies across the earth.Read More
So here we are at the playground and a pre-school group shows up to play - mostly 4 and 5 year olds. Three girls come over to him and wonder why he's barefoot. One informs me that it's dangerous for him to be barefoot.Read More
A few days ago, I shared with you my Getting Better Guide (if you didn't get this free resource yet, hop on over here and get your download!). In it, I outline my go-to practices for when things aren't going quite right and I want to really bring some focus to getting better.
Because it is central to what's in my guide, I want to riff today on the culture you've probably been raised in, because accepting the messages our culture gives around health and wellness may be your biggest obstacle to actually getting better.
In short, I want to say this: you've been had. I've been had. We've all been had.
Sometimes I find it hard to admit that, to accept it, to allow that no matter how hard I've worked, no matter how counter-cultural my parents may have been, no matter how much research I've done, I'm still buying into messages that don't serve me.
Messages that tell me:
- My appearance trumps everything, including whether or not my body functions well
- I shouldn't need help
- My body is something to punish and reward
- If there is no pain, there will be no gain
- Health is about being fit, not about being functional
- I should stuff my anger, sadness, grief
- I can control everything
- I can take care of myself in 15 minutes per day
- There's a pill for that
- I don't need to change anything about my lifestyle/psychological state/environment and I can still have true health
- There's nothing to be done
You can probably see how some of these messages are contradictory, evasive or simplistic. I hope you can see that all of them are problematic in some way or another.
When it comes to getting well and staying well, one of the biggest tasks before you is to be willing to change your mind. To question what you believe, what you've been told to believe and to explore other ways of being.
I realize I'm writing this like it's something you can just will: "Now, I'll be open-minded." (If you can will yourself into belief, let me know. I spent much of my life trying to do that and couldn't make much progress!) I find that change comes gradually, often, and seemingly out of nowhere at other times. You are trudging along with one paradigm and without realizing it, you've been opening yourself up to another and then suddenly! (or so it seems) you are in a new place with a new way of seeing and being.
This keeps happening to me. My body keeps inviting me into new places, new ways of being. It has proven itself to be a most trustworthy guide. I can sometimes sense in my body when a belief about what I need to be healthy is no longer serving me. Sometimes it shows up as pain, sometimes as parts not working well. Always, it is inviting movement, gently calling me toward flow. And whenever I am willing to step into that flow, I find a new place of ease, a new place of possibility, a new place of wellness.
I have just one suggestion to you today on that front, if you want to cultivate this environment in yourself: be curious.
When you decide you can't/shouldn't/won't, stay with yourself and be curious about that. What is the cost? Who told you that? How is this way of being serving you? How does it FEEL in your body? Is there even a tiny possibility that another truth is available to you?
Truthfully, I'm not always the most open-minded person. I like to get entrenched in my beliefs and regurgitate them to myself, just like the rest of us. ;) Choosing to be curious, even though I'm not consistent, creates just enough of a foothold to allow new ideas and ways of being to float on in.
And often enough, enables me to tell the broader culture to just go ahead and stuff it!
Here's to YOU being open to new ideas about health and wellness!
I will never be or do or say things that are pleasing to everyone. Or if I am, it's probably because I'm not being or doing or saying much at all, an experience that is its own kind of death.Read More
Women are coming away from birth confused and horrified by what has happened to them. We tell them it was their provider. We tell them it was their lack of education. We tell them it was their trauma. This is not the whole truth.Read More
Our culture's technological advancements have had the direct effect of causing our bodies to suffer in numerous ways. Technology leads to comfort and the body is all about the path of least resistance, even when it comes at a high cost. It's not your fault. And you can do something about it.Read More