MY BODY MY TEACHER: LESSONS FROM WITHIN
My mission: To Enlighten, Educate, and Empower women to make their health and wellness a priority, to take back their lives, in order to be the greatest expression of their true potential for the good of the world.
So many women come to my Center feeling sick, tired, frustrated, hopeless. They are trying so hard to be good caretakers for their kids and spouses and parents, and they just keep pushing through. Sometimes they have felt sick and sought medical attention but was told “it’s all in your head.” Others say they feel like something “isn’t right” inside their bodies but they don’t have time to see a doctor. Others come to me because their children are having issues but they know in their hearts that there is more to it than that.
This was me for so long!! I Kept pushing through making everyone else a priority. When I finally went to see doctors, I was told I was hormonal and crazy and that it was all in my head. I believed it, and just got sicker and sicker. I was losing my life in the process. I was not being the mother I wanted to be to my children. I was exhausted, depressed, anxious, and miserable.
One moment changed everything for me. I realized that my health, vitality, and success in life was more in my control than I was led to believe. I decided to make myself a priority and committed myself to doing the work necessary to realign in mind, body, and spirit.
If you are sick and tired, overwhelmed and defeated, frustrated with yourself and your life, feeling like a failure as a mom and a spouse, convinced something is “off” or “wrong” inside your body but you’re not quite sure what it is, or if you have been diagnosed with a chronic illness like autoimmune disease, gut issues, depression or anxiety, etc, or have been told you’re just a hysterical hormonal woman, please know that you aren’t alone and that you actually have the power to heal yourself! Everything you need is right within you!
Welcome to a community of like-minded women coming together to take control of their health and wellness in order to better themselves and better the world. Please share with anyone who can benefit and help me get the word out about my mission.
Learning to Receive
January 01, 2020
From a young child, it was instilled in me to give to others. Maybe it was 16 years of Catholic school education. Maybe it was guilt from my Italian grandmother. Regardless, I was programmed to be a giver.
Giving to others unselfishly can be a good thing. After all, doing kind things for others can lead to personal fulfillment as you likely feel joy when witnessing another person receive what they want or need. Seeing the receiver happy makes the giver feel happy. Givers are also pretty well-liked by others.
The problem is that the more you give, the more people will keep taking from you. It’s a natural process. Despite their best intentions, no giver is filled with an endless supply of resources from which to give. Without replenishing, eventually the well runs dry and there is nothing left to give. It’s kind of like a car—unless we refuel the tank, the engine has nothing left to give and the car remains stuck.
Giving and receiving are interesting and very misunderstood concepts. Giving is an act of control. It’s an active stance that is done in “doing mode.” The giver creates the scenario of what is being needed and by whom, decides what and how much to give, and then chooses to get it done. It’s all in the hands of the giver.
Receiving, on the other hand, is an act of vulnerability. It’s a passive state of being in which one simply waits and takes in whatever may be offered to them. There is nothing active to it and nothing that can be controlled.
The priests and nuns in Catholic school always taught us that if we are good givers, then we will always receive in abundance. However, what if we don’t receive what we need? Maybe the people we surround ourselves with can’t give us what we need or don’t know how to give us what we need. Maybe we don’t inherently feel we deserve to receive what we need. Maybe we don’t even believe that we are important enough to even have needs.
A lack of receiving, for any reason and under any circumstance, always leads to more giving. That’s because we fundamentally believe that if we aren’t getting our needs met, or if we feel empty in any way, it must be because we haven’t given enough! So we try to give even more, expecting a different outcome. Yet giving without replenishing leads to depletion. It’s like trying to run the car in a race while on gas reserves. As the gas supply dwindles, the car slows down and the engine sputters. We yell in frustration and demand that the car move faster and faster, to keep up pace and win the race.
But It’s a race to nowhere. It’s a vicious cycle that ultimately leaves the car, or the giver, beaten down and worn out.
Despite the fact that my Catholic upbringing taught me that we have an endless supply of universal love to give, the reality is that we all burn out without receiving replenishment. In order to tap in to that universal love and to have the capacity to share it, we must learn to receive and at the very least have our basic needs met. We must receive rest through sleep. We must receive nutrients through food. We must receive shelter and safety from a home. Basic needs that most over-givers tend to neglect.
We must receive.
Admittedly, I have never known how to do this. As far back as I can remember I have always compromised my needs in order to just keep giving. Pulling all-nighters, starving myself for days, saying yes to anyone and anything that needed anything from me. Putting myself out there and offering help at all times. And the more depleted I became, the more I gave.
Looking back there were plenty of opportunities to receive. Plenty of people around me offering love and help. I never knew what to do with it. I never knew how to pause and look at it and consume it. I never knew how to accept a compliment. I never knew how to accept help. I never knew how to accept unconditional love. I never felt worthy or deserving, never felt that I should have needs—needs were a sign of weakness. And I never felt good enough for anyone to want to give me anything.
And that just made me give even more. In an effort to feel good, to feel loved and accepted, to feel as though I was fulfilling my purpose as a giver. So much so that eventually my body, mind, and spirit shut down because I had depleted everything, even the reserves. I had nothing left to give. I was an empty vessel that was somehow still registering a pulse, despite the fact that I had no vitamins or nutrients in my body and all major systems of my body were shutting down.
And what brought me back to life? Receiving.
I now have no choice but to sit for three hours and RECEIVE an infusion of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals into my body through an IV needle. I have no choice but to sit in stillness and actually accept the fluids and feel them seeping into my vein and circulating through all of the cells of my body, filling me in ways I’ve never experienced before. With every infusion I receive, I come back to life a bit more. My cells feel nourished, supported, ready and available to give me energy to get through my day.
Initially this process was difficult. Sitting still, laying on a recliner, sipping water while connected to the IV, it felt like a tremendous waste of time. I didn’t feel productive. I felt selfish. I felt needy. I didn’t even recognize myself. But I knew I had no choice. Either I learned how to receive, or my tank would continue to be depleted and I would die.
My body couldn’t give anymore until it began to receive. And I have been learning how to receive in other ways, as well. Expressing my needs; giving myself permission to meet my needs; limiting my time with people who do not meet my needs, or further drain me; saying NO and setting limits and boundaries; asking for and receiving help from others; honoring my own feelings when they arise instead of pushing them away. Creating time each day to receive what I now know I deserve has allowed my tank to begin to fill and some days I even have some overflow. As a wise teacher once told me, “Give from your overflow. Never give from your reserves.”
Thank you, dear body, for yet another lesson from within.
January 03, 2023
Although this is my first actual published blog post under this name, I’ve logged into WordPress a total of 68 times in the last two months. I started and stopped, doubted and lamented, feared and cried, and would eventually log off without saving what I wrote. I instead shoved all of it back down deep inside of me to remain hidden from the world.
About a year ago I made a decision to write a book. I started and stopped and started and stopped and couldn’t figure out why it never felt quite right to me. I worked with an editor who would make suggestions about how to rework a particular chapter or how to infuse some humor into an otherwise intense topic. All the editing would prove to be helpful for book sales, but the editing process was stifling my authentic voice and leaving me feeling unfulfilled.
I am at a point in my life in which I need to express my truth completely and unapologetically. I don’t want to be censored. I don’t want to be directed. I don’t want suggestions, advice, or commentary. I don’t care who judges me or approves of what I say or don’t say. I just want to speak, or write, without any reservations or hesitation. I don’t want to edit my thoughts, or proofread my sentences, or make sure my grammar is correct. I just need to express myself. It’s my time now. I know that there is someone out there who is going to read what I write and for the first time in that person’s life, will feel connected to someone else, will not feel alone, and my words will resonate so powerfully that they feel a sense of hope. Nobody wants to feel alone. Everyone is seeking understanding and connection.
For some reason today is the day. Today is the day that feels right to share my story. Today is the day in which I connected with the fierce tiger inside of me who bravely roared at the top of her lungs after having been silenced for far too long. So today I begin the journey of exposing myself for all to see. Today feels like the right time to express my truth with the intention of inspiring others like myself to find their voice and express their inner truth and authentic selves. Today feels like the day to let others know that they aren’t alone.
Although I am a Clinical Child and Family Psychologist, and my life’s passion and purpose is to empower others to soar in life, this blog isn’t meant to be “clinical” in nature. No jargon or fancy language. No advice or suggestions or prescriptions. The truth is that this writing is for me. As a healer, I am a conduit through which energy flows from the universe through me and to my clients. I know that what I have experienced is not just a teacher for me, but a teacher for my clients as well. And I also know that I cannot heal them without healing myself first, or at least simultaneously. I simply intend to let my words flow from a stream of consciousness that is ready to emerge. I want it to be accessible to anyone and everyone. I want it to be raw and genuine. I just want to be me.
About 8 months ago I became very ill. The truth is that the “dis-ease” started long before that, early in my life in fact (more on this in future writings). It was a slow progression and although I was experiencing symptoms, I ignored those signs from the Universe and just plugged along on autopilot continuing to help and heal everyone else. And then one day the Universe literally knocked me on my ass and stopped me.
I have come to learn something that I have told clients for years: illness is an invitation. An invitation to pause, look within, listen to what is being revealed, and take action toward rebuilding or reinventing or changing course.
It is estimated that about 125 million Americans have at least one chronic condition whose symptoms are not visible to an onlooker. Chronic conditions are defined as those lasting a year or longer, limiting activity and impacting lifestyle, and requiring of ongoing care. Invisible or hidden illnesses are defined as those whose symptoms may not always be visible to others. Examples of such chronic invisible illnesses include allergies and food intolerances, depression, diabetes, digestive disorders (IBS, Crohns, Celiac, SIBO, etc), migraines, Lupus, Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis, Sjogren’s Syndrome, autoimmune thyroiditis, and more. On the surface, for the most part, individuals suffering with one or more of these conditions look fine. They may even look good, in fact. But in reality they are suffering and hurting so deeply.
The truth is that we are all ill and wounded and scarred in some way, and we all try to hide it shamefully because we are afraid of being viewed as damaged or crazy. We think our shit is worse than everyone else’s. So we put on a mask and that is what we show to the world. Some days its easy to wear the mask. But other days applying the mask feels like too much, and on those days we lay in bed and hide in shame. Life just feels too hard.
I am grateful for a day in June in which I hit bottom. I can vividly recall crawling from my bed to the bathroom because it hurt too much to walk. I was inflamed, depressed, overweight, nauseous, anxious, and exhausted. I cried and crawled and when I eventually arrived in the bathroom, I pulled myself up to the vanity to look in the mirror, and I decided I didn’t want to live anymore. I wanted to end my life. I didn’t want to suffer any longer. I was barely surviving, and I felt completely dead inside. after deciding that would be the day to end it, I caught a glimpse of a sticky note from one of my sons that read, “I love you Mommy. You are the best mom in the world.” I cried as I read that note and decided that it represented an invitation from the Universe to live. Even though I was not motivated for myself, I knew I owed it to my children to get help and heal.
Eight months, many doctor appointments and treatments, and tons of money spent later, I am finally motivated to live for me and I have learned so much. My journey has taught me that illness is an outer representation of an inner process. The process of longing for what makes your soul sing. When we become disconnected from who we are–who we TRULY are–when we veer off course and become what everyone else needs us to be. When our spirit has unfulfilled longings. When we have been running like mad away from our fears. When we have lost our sense of purpose. When we are so disconnected from our creative life force energy. Illness emerges and carries with it a message of invitation. The illness is inviting you on a transformative journey to reclaim your power and birth your soul’s deepest desires into life.
The illness is a teacher who delivers its lessons via symptoms. For me, my teachers went by the names of SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth), MCAS (Mast Cell Activation Syndrome), EBV (Epstein Barr Virus), LUPUS/currently ruling out Sjogren’s Syndrome, Candida, and several others. And these are just a few of the lessons that I was taught:
Severely and dangerously depleted of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients
Treatment required IV Infusions to get nutrients into my body
The lesson: I was a dead soul in a broken vessel, starving for new and creative experiences to revive me, fill me up, and make me feel whole and alive.
Severe pain and bloat
The lesson: I was withholding my truth. I was holding on to that which no longer served me but that which I wasn’t yet ready to let go of. I felt I needed it. But holding on causes a toxic back up that causes further systemic damage.
Imbalances–sluggish at times (hypothyroid) and extremely overactive (hyperactive) at other times.
Palpitations, hair loss, weight gain, issues with body temperature regulation, severe leg cramps, severe potassium deficiency, and much more.
The lesson: I was completely imbalanced in the area of my body associated with self-expression, communication, and soul releasing. Most of the time I swallowed my truth so far deep, failed to recognize or communicate my own needs, and felt a huge responsibility to care for others. I would give and give without receiving, as that is how I thought I was needed and what gave me value as a person. Then I would have moments in which my inner soul screamed “what about me?” and I screamed and yelled with complete reckless abandon because I had stifled myself for so long.
Inability to digest any food that was ingested.
Inability of my body to extrapolate and absorb nutrients from food
The lesson: What was I trying to digest and absorb in my life, heart, or mind that I couldn’t? Digestion represents the body’s assimilation process and I was not able to assimilate and incorporate certain energies emotions, thoughts, and experiences. That my body wouldn’t allow itself to metabolize. Everything I swallowed became a potential threat that my body rejected.
Leaky gut/intestinal permeability
The lining of the small intestine becomes damaged causing undigested food, waste products, and bacteria to “leak” through the intestines and in to the bloodstream.
Creates a variety of painful symptoms including stomach pain and bloat, irritable bowel, Candida, psychological and hormonal issues, and more.
One of the main causes is inflammatory foods
The lesson: What was I taking in that was toxic and eroding my system? Where was I giving away too much of myself and my energy? Where were my energy leaks —slow leaks that allow my energy to drain and allows for openings to take in what is toxic.
Autoimmune diseases result from the body turning on itself.
Chronic pain, hormonal issues, and more.
The lesson: I was responding to people and to life differently than how I really wanted to, essentially sending mixed messages within my body, confusing my body neurobiologically. I was unauthentic, not acting in consistent with my own inner desires, needs, and values; not feeling good enough or worthy, and believing limiting beliefs that reinforced guilt, shame, and self-loathing. As a result, my body believed it needed to punish itself. My immune system started to fight itself. Because it couldn’t trust —every thing I was exposed to was treated as a potential foreign invader. So my immune system flared to protect me and keep me safe. That meant that every experience, food, person, etc became incredibly fear -inducing and plummeted me immediately into flight or flight, a constant fight for survival.
Illness and disease are an invitation to make the changes necessary to heal–in mind, body, and spirit. An invitation to look at oneself in order to learn, grow, shift, and transform. Illness provides fertile ground for healing to take place. Each symptom represents a part of the landscape of the self that requires attention. If you ignore each symptom until it’s too late, death is imminent. It’s a metaphorical death in that you die so that you can be reborn into the person who you were always supposed to be. Something inside must die, or something must be given up. Maybe a lifestyle change or finally releasing old ways of thinking or interacting. We are confronted with the choice–continue in the same way and die …or make a change and be reborn.
I’m grateful for this second chance at life. And as I lean in to the process of healing and learn to cultivate gratitude for this opportunity for rebirth, I vow to love myself so fiercely and make myself the epicenter of my world. I will continue to honor my body as a sacred teacher and will create intentional mindful moments to listen to all the lessons that it has for me. That’s the only way that I can truly be the change I wish to see in the world.
If you have made it this far in the blog, thank you, and please join me in congratulating myself for taking the first step in accepting the invitation, and unveiling my new life. I hope that something in this post–even just one word or phrase–has inspired you to befriend yourself and honor your own healer within.
The Body is Sacred and Divine
February 23, 2023
What am I holding on to that is no longer serving me? That’s the question that my body is longing for me to answer today.
I awoke to swelling in my face, hands, and joints. I felt pain everywhere. I felt bloat and nausea. Being that time of the month doesn’t help, either. My initial reaction was to become angry and frustrated with my body for waking up in this state. After all, I was planning to go to the gym and expected my body to wake up pumped and ready. So I initially started to yell at myself, at my body, for “still being sick, broken, and weak.” I then thought about the lab results that came back this week confirming the continued presence of my autoimmune issues and my thyroid disease.
Tears fell as the frustration grew stronger as I struggled to lift my body from my bed. I paused, took a few breaths to realign myself, and then reflected on the lessons that my body had for me this morning.
My body is still holding on to toxins that have yet to be released. And the most obvious toxins are my beliefs about myself. The stories that I have created about who I am are still full of limiting beliefs. Still feelings of being damaged and broken. Still thoughts about not being good enough. Still thoughts about not being as healthy or skinny or successful as others.
I also reflected on what my thyroid is tying to teach me. The thyroid regulates energy metabolism in the body. How am I regulating my energy in my life? How am I spending my time? I realized I am still running in empty. I am still splurging all of my energy into work, leaving me depleted for my self-care and other important responsibilities including my family.
I also realized that there are sill some areas of my life in which I am not speaking my truth. There is a void there—in that throat area—probably why a nodule and cyst developed there—to fill the void.
I also realized that my stomach and digestive issues are giving me the lesson that I am still have difficulty receiving help from other. I can’t take in or absorb help because it makes me feel like I’m weak and not able to be strong and independent. The limiting beliefs are making it difficult for my body and brain to trust the offerings of others. I cant receive nourishment from others. Much like my body that is still unable to accept and receive nourishment from most foods.
I realized how much love my body needs and deserves, especially the body parts that I feel have betrayed me the most. My dis-ease has all served a purpose. It has helped me survive either by teaching me a lesson or by taking on some responsibility that I could not. It helped me tolerate some life experiences that I could not tolerate without it. It’s no coincidence, for example, that my body shut down completely after a stressful tumultuous year in which my son was diagnosed with PANDAS, my Mother in Law died suddenly and unexpectedly, and my husband had a snowblower accident. I kept going on autopilot, through it all, not stopping to process these traumatic events or my emotions around them. My body shut down in an effort to help me do that, because I couldn’t allow myself to do it on my own. Weak legs help people sit down when they can no longer stand up for themselves. So I was forced to lay down and confront the pain.
As these lessons revealed themselves early this morning, I looked at my body in the full length mirror and said:
“I am sorry that I have not treated you
respectfully and appreciatively. I am sorry
I have been tyrannical with you, demanding
perfection from you, while ignoring your
messages to me. I am sorry that I hated you
and continually rejected you. You are a bit
misguided and confused at the moment, but
you are working really hard to keep me alive.
I love and appreciate you, all parts of you. I
am grateful for your lessons and continual
support. You are strong, vibrant, healthy, and
worthy. I love you.”
I smiled at the woman staring back at me in the mirror, much the same as I would to a friend who I loved and wanted to show compassion towards. I encouraged her to just put one foot in front of the other and get herself to the gym where she deserved to nurture her body however it showed up today. And however she showed up, was exactly what the world needed. And so she did. And so she was.
Thank you, dear body, for yet another lesson from within.
Release What No Longer Serves You
May 28, 2023
“Sometimes you don’t feel the weight of something you’ve been carrying until you feel the weight of its release” --unknown
Weight. It’s a heavy topic (pun intended). Something we all struggle with.
It took me some time to realize that the extra weight on my body represents the burdens that I carry around with me daily. I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I have always made myself personally responsible for everyone’s well being. Everyone’s everything fell squarely on my shoulders.
I have always gripped so tightly at life and the fear has always been that the moment that I relax and let loose, everything will come crashing down around me. The fear mounts as the thoughts of slowing down even just a bit translates in my brain to ‘failure,’ ‘weakness,’ ‘ineptitude,’ all leading to my greatest fear which is disappointing others. So I kept going, faster and faster each time, as though I were running a marathon while wearing a weighted vest. Keep pushing through! Faster! Faster! Don’t slow down! And never ever stop!
My body warned me about the development of this “world carrying” syndrome. It presented me with aches and pains especially in my joints, neck, arms, and shoulders; palpitations causing my heart to race at speeds consistent with how fast I seemed to be running; hyperventilation; jaw pain; and then deeper levels including adrenal distress, thyroid disease, multiple autoimmune diseases, gut disease, and more. I wasn't sleeping or eating, or would binge eat when at the point of starvation, binge eat sugar and carbs for jolts of energy to keep going.
My brain literally hurt all the time, as I constantly ruminated over the past and worried and frantically planned for the future. Everything felt like an obligation that had to be attended to immediately, or sooner. At work, I spent 11 years as a Psychologist running my own practice ---not only doing the clinical work, but also all of the administrative tasks (appointments, billing, managing the business, etc) with extreme fear of delegating. I made myself constantly available to others whenever they needed me, even if it was inconvenient for me or hurt me in any way. Taking care of others’ needs was what I did best, and I wore that like a badge of honor. In addition, I always made myself personally responsible for the feelings of others. If my husband was upset, it was my fault and my responsibility to fix. I felt insane pressure to be everything for everyone everywhere anytime.
I always believed that despite running so fast, I was behind, and not productive or successful enough. I always strived to do more, and to be better. And all of this was reinforced when I accomplished something. Goals were crossed off my to do list! I made others really happy! I got shit done! And the more that happened, the more I wanted to do. It's like the high of a drug that makes you crave more and more. It was never enough.
For so long I saw only the advantages of living my life this way. For starters, and most importantly, I made everyone happy. People felt better around me, loved to be around me, and were inspired by me. I was praised for my efforts, received minimal judgement, and felt a sense of purpose. I felt needed, loved, dependable, trustworthy, and dare I say it, like a savior for some! And the more I gave, the more that was expected of me from others. Others expected me to jump in to any situation and save the day. My purpose was to please others and take care of the world. A superhero! A pretty important job! I got this!
I also felt in control of my life--the more I did the more I felt that I had my shit together and that I would be prepared for every possible outcome. This was huge for helping to tame my anxiety about the future.
As time went on, however, my body gave me more signs that it was exhausted. I was still not sleeping, still gaining weight despite doing intense crossfit workouts four days per week, I was exhausted constantly, I cried constantly, I started missing important appointments and deadlines, my brain felt like mush and I had migraines constantly, the aches and pains in my body grew worse. I squeezed in massage appointments into an already packed schedule and would lie on the table with my phone in hand trying to multitask my way through relaxation just hoping for some pain relief so that I could resume my marathon of life! I cried constantly because I never felt that I could accomplish my never-ending to-do list. Each item crossed off was replaced by another. I hired business coaches to help me become more productive, yet I still never felt caught up or at peace. The physical symptoms became increasingly apparent in an effort to tell me that being a world carrying superhero wasn’t working for me. I didn't listen until it was too late. Until my body broke down so badly and I was bedridden.
The addiction of being a world carrier is real. And since last June, I have been in recovery. The various chronic illnesses and autoimmune diseases that I have been battling with all resulted from this world carrier disease. The treatment is intense, and the tons of pills and needles and programs are all helpful and certainly vital for my physical health. But the real healing is actually an inside job.
Here is a hardest pill that I have had to swallow----its not all about me!! I am not responsible for everyone and everything. Life as we know it will not crumble to the ground without me. I am not a savior. The sun will rise and fall, the ocean waves will ebb and flow, and plants will root and rise ...whether I run fast or whether I stop and rest. It's not about me. I want to make an impact on the world and help and heal others, but I cannot do this from a place of depletion. I have to give from my overflow, not from my reserves. And it's ok to say NO if what is being asked of me doesn't work for me. I have a responsibility to myself only. The other people in my life will benefit most from me when I am the best version of me possible.
I am working on releasing the old stories and limiting beliefs that try to keep me diseased. I am working on releasing my grip a little more each day. I am working on trusting and having faith that the Universe will provide. I am working on slowing down, creating intentional pauses throughout my day during which to breathe, check in with myself and my body, and realign if necessary. I am working on “being” rather than “doing.” Living in being-mode allows us to listen in to the voice of our soul--our intuition-our inner muse--our inner compass. This voice will always tell you what you need and desire to be at your best. The challenge for me is listening, and then giving myself permission to follow what it is asking of me. I’m trying my best. And however I show up in each moment, is exactly what the world needs right at that moment.
I am taking control, by letting go.