Friday, November 14, 2014

Healing the Healer - A Healing Journey of a Naturopathic Physician

Cannot believe how fast this week has gone!  My weekend was spent last week up at FSU for the homecoming game against Virginia.  It was a fun week of reliving my college youth and realizing I'm not 21 anymore! Man oh man!

This week played catch up with lots of clients and refocusing. I love this time of year as it helps you focus on your year end goals and establish new goals.  I hate the carry of over of goals I didn't quite achieve.  And as there are only 8 more weeks in the year, I have a lot to get going on!

I wanted to share a video I made and shared with my online viewing community at YouTube.  I'm so honestly blown away by the positive response of the changes I made to my blog and the raw voice it now has reflecting MY real time, real life journey.

I'm honored to be an inspiration, a guide and a resource!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Grief Survival - Another Year Down

My Gram and I at my Grand Opening
I have survived is running through my head as I feel a sick sense of triumph that I have survived yet another year without my Grandmother here in our realm here on earth.  This season of fall and the beginning of November now marks a dark period of time, the mourning, the missing and the grief of living through and coping without my Grandmother, my Gram.

I can honestly say I HATE this time of year and it’s such a shame.  I love holidays.  I love Halloween, but now Halloween has a mark on it…. A memory of getting the 7pm call from my Dad about Gram’s hospitalization that am with pneumonia and the heart attack.  I cannot erase that memory and the once uber happy holiday now has a mark.  It’s tainted.  It’s now the day that began the decline of my Gram.

For me, this time is a dark cloud.  I just want to pass through it as quickly as I can.  I can write this article only because it’s officially over.  The anniversary of my Gram’s death.  In fact, 2:10am on November 8th to be exact.  So now I can write.  And I can cry my victory cry filled with grief, sadness, missing and a longing to join her again when it is my time to do so.  I survived, I’ve managed and I can move on from the anniversary and know I made it another year without her, without her pep talks and kind words of pure love and encouragement.  No one calls me Missy anymore and pats me lovingly on my butt and tells me how proud they are of the woman I have become. 

I miss that.  And above all, I miss her.  I miss my dear sweet Gram. 

To this day I still cannot believe she’s gone.  There are still times I want to call her, drop by and take her out for our notorious burgers and beer sessions where she reminisced of her childhood and days gone by and I listened with gratitude for having such a well lived woman in my life as a guide, a role model and someone who inspired and encouraged my love of travel, culture, risk taking and jumping outside of my comfort zone. 

My Grandmother was my spirit mother.  We had a soul mate connection. She is and probably will be the ONLY person who truly loves me in the real unconditional way.  I feel without a doubt that I chose my parents to be HER granddaughter.  My grandparents were unable to have any children of their own; my Grandfather had measles, which rendered him infertile.  My Gram always said they would have had a brood of children.  Coming from a family of 9 children herself, she wanted to raise a large family.  Gram had a heart of gold and more love to give.  She was such a giver and a lover.  She loved life and she loved me.

When Gram passed two years ago, she was 97.  She had LIVED a life filled with love, happiness, and peace and died having no regrets.  She and I had a very special relationship.  For as long as I can remember, we were close and I was her “pet.” When I left my corporate work in Boston in the summer of 2007 and had decided to start my own business and really pursue the world of healing – I moved back home to St Petersburg, Florida and into the second bedroom of my Gram’s two bedroom home, the home of my dad’s childhood and her home of over 60 years. 

Gram had just turned 92 and her health wasn’t in great shape and my mom had declared that she couldn’t handle both Gram and me making this WILD transition into entrepreneurship.  So I volunteered, quite selfishly, to move in for just a few months and help Gram and get my work and focus settled and then move on and up in the world of healing and business ownership. 

Those few months turned into a beautiful four and a half year time of what I call Raising Grandma. (Some day I will write a book about her, her life, her view of life and our adventures together.) I was her caregiver, her chef and chauffer, her nurse and her social coordinator.  I assumed the role of managing her health.  I administered her blood sugar tests; daily dose of meds and for the first 8 months her daily insulin shots.  I took her to all her appointments, church, bingo and I organized to get her involved in a senior care service where a short purple bus arrived at the house every picked her up, whisking her away to a center where she hung with elders much younger than her and was one of the “cool” ones at her designated “it” table and then the short purple bus promptly returned dropping her off mid afternoon.  

 It never bothered her she was riding the short bus and it always made me laugh with pride and pleasure that she was going to a place that catered to her in ways that I couldn’t and allowed her to continue to LIVE life, regardless of her aging years.    She loved those short bus adventures and routinely thanked me for organizing that for her. 

Catering to Gram and caring from Gram was an honor.  It was my privilege.  It was my expression of love and appreciation for her love, her life and the role she played in making me the woman I am today.  It was the least I could do. 

In those four and a half years, we had such fun.  I have never had the opportunity to live with someone quite like her.  I loved waking up and having the conversations we had over healthy smoothies and gluten free breakfasts.  Gram was so easy going. 

Granted, she as many elders do, had her tantrums and her elder moments.  I never took any of those personally.  I cannot imagine how it feels to know you are not always aware, that your body is aging, as is your mind.  I don’t know what it’s really like to look at yourself, your body and all your sags and wrinkles and super thin skin and see you as you see and think you look. 

Gram loved her beer!!
In Gram’s head she was still a wild, freethinking and independent late teen.  There were times she’d flirt with a cute young waiter and once she grabbed a really cute one’s butt! Still cracks me up and the look that guy gave her- a 90 something woman just grabbed his butt.  I don’t even know what you would call her, a snow leopard?!!

It’s those memories, and there are so many more, that make me smile.  That make me laugh and remember her ALIVE.  And I’m so grateful.  I had a beautiful life with her and have absolutely no regrets about spending the time I did with her, in her home as her caregiver. 

So this week has been tough and I’m crying and smiling as I write these memories. So many amazing memories, all for which I am grateful.  How lucky was I to have the type of love we shared. I was blessed by her and her love.  And still am.  So, Tuesday night, the night I had my meltdown – the election night of flashbacks to Gram’s last night two years ago as the president was being re-elected and CNN and all news outlets were a buzz, my Gram was slipping from our world into the next.  It was not a good night.  But I survived and I will continue to survive and I will LIVE and LOVE as Gram would have wanted nothing else.

As I went to bed early Tuesday night with a sad, heavy heart –I felt her come to me, hugging me and surrounding me with her infinite love.  She hugged me and lulled me into a peaceful sleep so I could wake up and continue to survive without her.

I love you Gram!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

NO Love = Self Love: Learning the Art of N-O.

N-O.  I hate this word.  I hate receiving it.  And even more, I hate saying it.  I hate how definitive and decisive it is.  I don't like the lack of negotiation and lawyering (as I like to say about my style of persuasion) it represents.  NO is very black and white - no grey.  I like grey - especially for my indecisive nature. Grey equals options in my book.

N-O also takes me back to a childhood where I heard it all too often and I instantly feel deprived, not worthy and deficient. 

BUT over the years and with the help of some great therapy- N-O has become an ally and I guess I could call it a friend now.  It helps me better balance and create space for peace and healing. Corny- yes, but so true!

It's been over two years since I started to deploy the word.  Even uttering this from my lips still feels foreign. Not every ounce of the cell in my body are on board when I say N-O to events, activities, appointments that take away from my own healing/balance, people, friends and family.   It's ok- it's practice is what I peacefully say to my self and the parts that still like to dance in the grey of "maybe" and "I'll check and let you know."

NO is also something I've begun telling myself.  WHOA- yes sir, I began implementing some necessary boundaries with my self, my choices and my actions.  I'd like to share some of my progress with you and I'm sure you can relate to how terribly difficult sometimes this is - especially in our right now, instant gratification worlds that we live in:

A. NO you are not going to eat dinner out - you are going to juice or cook dinner with the amazing veggies you got from the market.

B. NO you are not staying up to watch the 10p show, only to fall asleep on the couch thereby hurting your neck and messing with your REM sleep and 11p-1a glandular detoxing.

C. NO you are not going to spend your hard earned money to buy that super cute top here at TJMaxx- you have two just like it that you rarely use and let's REALLY look at what you're missing that makes you want to do some "retail therapy."

D. NO you are not going to skip the gym for the upteenth time! Seriously, get off your lazy butt and bust out some weights and cardio!

And most imporantly:

E. NO I don't want to be in any relationship that is co-dependent, selfish, toxic and un-supportive and unloving with any emotionally challenged narcissist.

The later has been the most amazing NO I've ever uttered by my actions and choices.  While that NO has made some people raging M-A-D - and I mean RAGING (imagine red faced, steam oozing from their ears kinda seriously mad, heart pounding high blood pressure MAD).  I've been kicked out of Thanksgiving Dinner and even endured nasty gram emails filled with mean-mean-mean words that can never be erased or taken back. BUT-I said N-O and I did it because I love myself! 

I love myself as a whole person.  I love myself as a person who seeks healthy, loving relationships that don't demand me to change or be different but are accepting. And sometimes when you say N-O to people who are so used to you saying Y-E-S, they get upset because YOU change the dynamic and they don't often like that.  But it's OK. It's okay because you deserve it, I deserved it and they deserve it too....a healthier relationship.

It's funny how some relationships can mirror our childhood relationships.  Tragically for two and a half years two many, I dated a man who treated me like my mother. Ugh- hidden under the guise of amazing trips and romantic evenings and adventures was a man-child from an alcoholic broken family who had survived a "failure to thrive" as an infant and had buried away all his angst and loathing towards his mother and used money and his power to essentially buy love and peace.  He never had dealt with his intense abandonment issues nor did he ever fully move on from his divorce where his wife fell in love with a woman (another abandonment that triggered more abandonment issues).  Ironically, he created a world of people (mostly employed by him) who worshiped him and any deviation from devotion was absolutely unacceptable.  His way or the highway.  And one day I woke up filled with self love and decided I was going to say N-O. No thank you and I moved on. I'm sure you can guess how well this narcissistic man-child took my N-O.  :)

My first therapist had recommended an amazing book as I sought to deal with my own childhood angst - "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend.  I read it I believe in a matter of 2 days. It was filled with chapters of amazing lessons on how to create boundaries.  In my childhood there were many "NO" boundaries, but privacy (a boundary), acceptance (a boundary), physical (a boundary), space (a boundary) were never honored and as such I had no clue where and how one thing ended and another started.  This book was perfect for reshaping and growing from my co-dependent upbringing.

I want to share with you a few of the questions that I ask myself each time I'm faced with a decision.  This is much inspired by Cheryl Richardson - she's an amazing Life Coach who I've had the privilege of seeing in person at the I Can Do It conferences and have read all her books.  She's been a fabulous resource for implementing NO in my life.  

This is my list - I try to be faithful to this list each and every time I am in a situation where I have to make a decision - I ask myself these 5 questions.  And then decide Y-E-S or in more cases now, N-O.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sea Veggies and Mermaid Dreams

Kelp Soakingl Mermaid from Artist Renee Nault
Last night I felt like I was Ariel from the land of The Little Mermaid soaking in my bath filled with 3 cups of Kelp and Dulse swirling around my limbs like I was floating in the Celtic Sea.

Ahhhhhhh - it was SO relaxing! I am a self professed bath lover and bathing connoisseur. I love all things bath related. I order pounds upon pounds of assorted sea salts, (Dead, pink Himmalayan, Black Lava Hawaiian, Epsom.... I cold go on!) all shipped to my home. I've taken (smuggled) home wet sea clay on trips to Martha's Vineyard zipped in zip locks and have soaked in glorious natural hot springs during my year abroad in Japan. I am not even embarrassed to say that I am a bath snob~ Always have been!

And when I buy my house next year- I will buy it based on the bath or the potential of the master bath. I'd renovate the bathroom over any other room first. You should see my pinterest board I am building for the bathroom of my dreams - centered around a fabulous infinity style whirlpool bath tub.

Perhaps bath time is one of my few fun memories of childhood. Back then I loved bubbles- lots of bubbles. I'd give myself bubble beards, bubble boobs and piles of bubble hair.

Nowadays I just love sea salts and herbal soaks. I'm not kidding when I say I could bathe all day long. And I have- in Japan we'd bathe for an entire day - and I was so in my element! Someday I plan to return to Japan and when I do all I want to do is soak! Soak all over the entire country!

I'm fully free in a bath - limbs floating free, head and chest bobbing up and down in tune with my slow, meditative breathe. I actually enjoy the silence of head immersed and listening to the sound of my own heart. If you've ever done this, it really gets you in tune with your ticker. Literally! You can hear the amazing force of your heart pumping and the swooshing of your blood as it pumps in and out of the heart. Tuning into this force is amazing. I love doing deep breathing exercises to see how long my entire upper body can stay submerged into the depth of my bath tub and slowly release the air as I rise bouyant to the surface - tuning into the slowing of my heart rate and how my breath controls the speed of my heart beat.

The bath tub is where all my amazing ideas originate. I get some fabulous ideas - many that still remain as ideas yet- but tons that have been implemented and worked on. For me, I feel like bathing is getting back to source. Connecting my soul to something greater. Perhaps, as I realized last week, in one of my many weekly baths- that fetal position in water is more soothing than any other position... the warm water is all encompassing and it's nurturing. Maybe that is even why I enjoy baths so much- the nurturing power of the bath is what I need.

Iodine is also something I desperately need. After doing an iodine urine test profile, it became very clear just how deficient my body is of this core metabolic enhancing mineral. I'm so deficient and so much of the uterine fibroid and PCOS is rooted in a lack of iodine. I've been painting iodine on my body daily and after some research, I've been trying out soaking in iodine rich seaweed baths. The water actually turns a yellowish green color and I soak at a minimum of 45 minutes.

The benefits of Iodine are really quite spectacular especially on tumors and fibroids as well as any type of thyroid disorder/dysfunction/deficiency. Sadly our diets lack iodine and even when we have iodine exposure, elements like chlorine (in water sources) and bromine (in all flour products) are stronger and bond more easily to our iodine receptors, blocking out iodine. Eating iodine is key, then supplementation and then topical application is another way to get exposure to iodine (painting/baths).

 If you feel like you want to get your inner Ariel on = here is my recipe:

Seaweed Bath Soak 

  • 3 cups sea veggies (Dulse, Kelp) 
  • 1 pot boiling water 
  • 1 tbsp celtic salt 
*boil all 3 ingredients for 30min with lid on pot

 Draw up bath:
  • 4 cups Epsom Salts 
  • 10 drops aromatherapy oil - I love citrus or eucalyptus with my seaweed soaks 
  • Add boiling pot of water to that bath along with the flakes of seaweed.
And SOAK away!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Liver and The Heart of Anger

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've recently stepped up my detoxing program. Literally, I'm detoxing in ways I've never experienced before and I'd consider myself a detox expert. My primary focus is to detox my liver using coffee enemas 1-3x a day up to the point where I either feel changes or have scans of my uterus and ovaries that showcase the change(s).


My body has created a fibroid and a polyp in my uterus. And my body seems to like pearls as much as I do and it has strung strands of pearl-like cysts all around bother ovaries. While the cysts, fibroid and polyp aren't "sizeable," they aren't small either. And over the course of the past 2 years my symptoms have gotten to a point where I have to do something about it. I suffer so much and the pain has reached an unbearable point.

 Of course my GYN wants to wisk me away into surgery..... and a biposy. Well, that is what she wanted to do back in May when I saw her. In fact, in a matter of 3 minutes, she managed to not remember for the umpteenth time that I don't have kids (she thinks 2 or 3 each visit) and drew a quick and quite ugly pic of my uterus and the "blobs" as I call them and then said with all giddiness, "you are in luck, I happen to have a cancellation tomorrow.... at 10:30am, I know it's last minute, but lets get those out of there."

WHOA - WTF?? These people. The MDs - ugh.  


Seriously, it's crazy how the mind can zero in on the stress of a possible pre-cancer/cancer scare. I can't help but go there! And I know it didn't help my already crazy high - ER admitting high BP. 

Luckily, my BP was mega high pre-surgery recommendation : 170/120.

The hypertension is a symptom that after a crazy course of cardiovascular tests, CT scans and a Renal Arterial Scan called by my super nice, super educated, super cute and super open to natural healing, Cardiovascular Doc (Dr. Alex Jackson) says is more than likely from the high Testosterone Levels caused by the cysts on my ovaries (PCOS).

And of course - my heart guy asked my why neither the GYN nor the Endocrinologist (total Dud!) are not addressing this?! Seems every doc, except my super cute heart guy, want to either operate or point fingers and say that isn't their thing - like the Endo who said high testosterone levels and PCOS are a gynie thing - seriously? What about addressing the entire endocrine system vs just the pancreas where you can prescribe meds?! Can we talk about the metabolic syndrome as an entire endocrine system meltdown?! Oh wait - that is my world - my ND work.  Nevermind MDs...  (sorry, soap box and I digress....)

The only saving grace this high BP has yielded: my overzealous GYN took back her eager offer for next day surgery and said we needed to get that under control and then ordered an in office biospy and intrauterine saline ultrasound that will identify size, location and type of uterine tissue she would need to remove.

This last element is one I'm waiting to put off as long as I can as I heal myself. I'd prefer to prove them that there is a better way - a non-surgical way to heal.  And I just don't like the idea of invasive biopsies. UGH!

So each month my cycle arrives, I experience pain and symptoms like extreme fatigue, dizziness, crazy cramping - the kind where it feels like there is an alien trying to tear me apart from the inside out.  I sometimes cannot stand or sit up straight and I now have to take a "sick" day and spend the majority of a day soaking in my hot bath and curled up in bed with hot packs sipping herbal teas and using homeopathic medicine to try to cut the pain.  I prefer not to take pain meds - don't like the idea of advil or any pain reducing medication.  It's just not me.


Okay, so back to my liver and this detoxing..... I have to tell you it's been 5 days now and I've been diligently doing my 3 coffee enemas a day.  Holding for min of 15minutes, sometimes more - sometimes less.

As I have been doing this I've been feeling a lot of emotions- anxiety particularly and grief and ANGER.  Wow-serious anger!  Both the anxiety and anger are liver rooted- at least in the emotional sense.  Organs and glands have specific emotional properties.  The chinese way of viewing healing and medicine is to connect each organ and gland to our emotional state.  It's all connected really.

My liver is quite sluggish and slowly operating.  My love of wine probably doesn't help - not that I polish off a bottle a night- but have enjoyed my glasses of wine and even liquor beverages when out with friends more often than not.

Simply put- I feel like my liver is my heart of darkness - a sludgy, dark, seedy battle ground that has held in anger from my childhood, relationship with my parents, frustration about work, finances, anger about past bosses and people I hired, deep anger about breakups and an untapped mound of anger over the passing of my beloved Gram- my one true mother and champion.  My liver has wounds- it has words and phrases etched into each corner - sometimes from my own thoughts and mostly from those of others who have hurt me.

If my liver were a car, it'd need an oil change PRONTO - in fact it'd probably need an all new oil system with new filters.  In fact, that car wouldn't function it'd be so toxic.

My toxicity is hormonal and from toxic chemicals and heavy metals.  I've tested all these.  But deeper and probably more imporant to address is I'm emotionally toxic.

If I get real with myself, I'm really ANGRY!  I am ANGRY at certain people from my past and I'm ANGRY at the universe.  And I put on a happy face and act like I'm not angry because it's really not becoming is it? An Angry person.  No one wants to hear about your anger, well only your therapist, but really people want happiness, sweetness and smiles.  Luckily, I have an amazing therapist I see weekly, who lets me release, and cry and yell.

And so here I am - detoxing my liver.  And as I do this - I'm detoxing my emotions - feelings are percolating - and it's really interesting.  If you choose to do this- be aware-- detoxing is like a pandora's box.  Things start making their way up to be dealt with - weather you want to or not.

My loving Gram, Irene Gallagher
I don't think I have really gotten over a few major events in the last 10 years that are necessary for me to address - especially the death of my Gram.

I remember being in a shocked daze just hours after she passed (2a) and was back at work that morning(8a), at my center greeting clients as they came in to my center.  I remember one client, as she walked in, taken aback by me being there and while I couldn't manage being there and not being an emotional wreck, I didn't know what to do with myself- and I had been out of work for a week and desperately needed to tend to my client schedule. I stuffed that grief until one summer day months later I broke down in my shower sobbing - uncontrollably and still I have more to release.  I miss that woman more than I can describe and losing her is a loss that have left a whole in my heart and in my soul.

Even as I type this- I can't help but cry and I'm allowing it all to pass through and out of my vs. holding it in.  It's better that way.