Manipulation and Chronic Illness

Manipulation and chronic illness – how a trip to the osteopath screwed up my personal identity

I just got back from seeing a natural healer who practices cranialsacral and fascial manipulation, and is educated in osteopathic principles. And boy are my arms tired!
But seriously, my arms ARE kinda tired. As are my neck, hips, and everything in between…
I don’t believe there are coincidences, I believe everything happens for a reason. So when I was asked to work on a web site copy job for a local ad agency, I wasn’t really surprised that it happened to be for a natural healer, with whom I share some mutual acquaintances. And I wasn’t surprised by how naturally the writing flowed while I was working on the web site copy. Because it all just seemed like it was supposed to happen that way. It all made perfect sense. The next step was, of course, to go see her personally. How could I not? It’s like it was put right in front of me.

This energetic, passionate lady works out of her home, and of course it was a nice home. In the nice part of town. One of her little dogs greeted me and immediately enlisted me in some belly scratching.
Once I got in to see her, we went over my medical history, as well as talking about things that have happened in my life that could have an impact on my health. Like medical events, trauma, or other emotional experiences. Then she had me stand in front of her so she could look at how I stand. The first thing she told me was that my liver was over-taxed. Just based on how I was standing (leaning towards the left, away from the liver).
Then I lay down on her table and she proceeded to get to work. She said my liver and kidneys are congested and that the fascia surrounding my entire belly cavity was so tense and tight that it was pulling all my organs towards the back of my body. Where everything was getting smooshed.

We talked about trauma – she believes I’ve had PTSD for a very long time, and the death of my mom in 2012 was just one big event that basically pushed my body over the edge, so to speak.
I don’t really know what trauma I experienced so long ago, but she isn’t the first person to suggest this and well, it wouldn’t surprise me. When you are very young, it’s possible that something we view as not very important as an adult, can be really, really impactful and meaningful. Maybe the adult me would be like, oh, that’s no big deal! But 3 year old me might have had a different experience. But – I can’t remember anything specific. My mom isn’t here for me to ask – and something tells me that even if she were, she wouldn’t tell me what it was. She just didn’t talk much about the past.

So the healer commented multiple times about how tense my whole body is. She worked to release the tension and to relax my body. I started to feel more relaxed but I had a really weird thought – if I let go of all this tension, I won’t really be ME anymore. Parts of me might get lost! Because I feel like I literally and figuratively hold myself together with all this tension. Without it, I might fall apart.
I told this to the healer. She thought it was interesting. And wouldn’t it be neat to explore that, she said, and to maybe let the “real me” out from under all the tension. Maybe that’s something I could explore, she suggested. Maybe.
I don’t know. That’s certainly a more positive way of looking at the experience, rather than OH MY GOD I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DEFINE MYSELF WITHOUT MY ANXIETY AND TENSION. But if I let go of it all, what will be left in its place? A bowl of lime jello? A jellyfish? A cookie-loving amoeba?

What if those of us who suffer from chronic conditions use those conditions as ways to define ourselves. What if it becomes so much a part of who we are, that we don’t know how to define ourselves without it. What if I’m not the only one who does this.
What if there are hundreds, or thousands, or millions of people that hang onto these conditions because they – their bodies and their minds – don’t know any other way of being.
These are rhetorical questions, because I know this happens all the time. And not just with chronic health conditions – we hold onto negative thoughts, past trauma, criticism, self-doubt… you name it. We hold onto things because it’s all we know. It’s too bad, isn’t it.

I wonder if we can all manage to let go. Wouldn’t THAT be interesting.

chronic illness
this is what happens to your insides when you are TENSE
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Wordy Girls and Balm Shells

Goodness. It’s March. I don’t know how that happened.
You’d think after completing a five part series on How to Procrastinate, I’d be all gung-ho about being more productive and would post to this site every day or something. But no – life kind of gets in the way. Things like illness, yoga teacher training, high school lacrosse games, more yoga, a broken toe, slightly less yoga for a little while, some copywriting, and then more yoga again. And then boom. March 2016.
I do have a few interesting things to report today – I will tell you about two of them because, outside of yoga teacher training, these 2 things have been the most fun lately.

The Wordy Girls Take Over the Interwebs

By now you are hopefully familiar with the Wordy Girls Rule the World project – we’ve released several podcasts, and also put out a few gift guides. Well I’m excited to announce that The Wordy Girls now have their own web site!

wordy girls rule
This is my main excuse for not posting on this blog in a while – I’ve been over at WGR, getting it ready. There isn’t a whole lot of content there yet, but now that we’ve got the site up and running, content is next.

The Wordy Girls Rule the World podcast has moved over there, as well as the 100 Word Story Writing Contest.

While I’m sorry to see the project leave this web site, I thought that the WGR project really needed its own site. As the podcast name says, we plan to take over the world. And Karen, who always does a good job of Keepin it Real, has agreed to give me a hand with the endeavor, so that’s exciting because she’s always good fun to do things with, and super smart to boot.
My goal with the web site is to have other writers and readers contributing – making it a resource-filled place of awesomeness. We’ll have book reviews, recommendation lists, articles by regular contributors, gift guides, the writing contest and podcast – and lots more. It’s a place for all things reading / writing / book / nerdy. I hope you’ll consider checking it out, and supporting the project by subscribing to our podcast, or signing up for the newsletter, or making a purchase.

And if you would like to contribute material to Wordy Girls Rule, information is on the site on how you can submit your pitch. We look forward to seeing you over there!

But, like, I hope you won’t abandon me over here…

Beelovebalm – It’s the Bomb

When I went to visit my Dad over the holidays, I picked up some of his hand balm that he made. He used to make beeswax candles, and had decided to branch out a little into some other products, including some home made hand salve. I used it a lot, and thought hmmm, this stuff is really great! I asked him if he’d mind if I made some, since he wasn’t really in the biz anymore. He said sure. So, I’ve started making beeswax balm.

My dad sent me his supply of nice, pure beeswax, and I tweaked his original recipe a bit, but it’s essentially the same. And let me tell you, this stuff really is great! I’m not just saying that because I’m selling it, honest. I’m saying that because I use it every day. And everyone who has gotten some has given it good reviews as well.

Made from all natural ingredients, this sweet-smelling balm works great on lips, hands, feet, and well, probably other places too… like since I’ve been sick and blowing my nose a lot, it’s been great to avoid that Chapped Nose phenomenon that comes with a cold. Heh.

beelovebalm

There is something very satisfying and rewarding about “making something.” The idea of starting out with some containers of stuff and 30 minutes later you have a “product” made, and you can give it to someone and they can use it… yes, I like that kind of work. I always have. I like making stuff, plain and simple. In my old job, I just pushed papers from one side of my desk to the other. This is SO much more rewarding.
I’ve received several wholesale orders for my new beelovebalm and I’m hoping to get it out to a few more places as I figure out how to make bigger batches. If you’re interested in trying some, it’s on sale in our Etsy shop, or available for purchase directly from me.

I’ve also been getting more copywriting work, which is a lot of fun – the work is varied and I love helping people by providing them well-written content for their projects. It’s been keeping me busy too – in a very good way!

Add in a lot of reading, more yoga, and of course some coffee consumption, and powee! You have a busy few weeks. I still can’t believe it’s already March. Powee!

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Andrea and the Beanstalk

I am an only child, and my parents were separated / divorced by the time I was three; my Dad was living in Northern California, and I was in Huntington Beach with my Mom. Every so often I would get put on a plane to visit my Dad. The legal age for a minor to fly alone was four, so I was instructed to “just tell them you’re four if anyone asks how old you are.” Knowing my inability to fib very well, if anyone asked, I probably just told them “I’m four but really I’m only three”…
When I was visiting my Dad in the Bay Area, I would spend a considerable time alone. At least, that’s what I mostly remember. At that time my Dad worked several jobs, among other them woodworking and real estate. He would need to work on a house – I remember sitting outside in the back yard. He would work on a project in his woodshop – I would be in the corner with a pile of small boards, some small nails and a hammer. I remember always being so disappointed at how my own woodworking projects turned out, compared to his. Needless to say I never developed an interest in woodworking.
When we were at his home, on occasion it would be suggested to me that I walk down to the local library and see what was going on. It must have been close by, because I remember walking there by myself. Those trips to the library are the first memories I have of thinking “SO MANY BOOKS, WOOOOO!” I can still see all the colors of the covers, and the texture of the paper. I can still hear the thick pages as I turned them, and the smell of the books. This must have been where it all started – my love for books and writing.
As a kid I was always reading, and always writing stories. Over the years I have stopped and started reading multiple times, and basically stopped writing altogether for even longer. Now both passions are back and I don’t think they’re going anywhere anytime soon…

The library also had some sort of activity program, because one day I returned to my Dad’s home with a prize. At the library, we had cut off the bottom of a paper milk carton, filled it with a little dirt, and planted some kind of seed in it. Oh, the anticipation, what was going to happen! Finally the seed sprouted. What a miracle!
But eventually it would be time to pretend I was four again, and get back onto the plane and go home to Southern California. Someone must have decided that half a milk carton filled with dirt wasn’t the best carry-on luggage for a small child, because I really don’t know what became of my little plant – or what kind of plant it even was.
I’d like to imagine that after I left, my Dad fed and watered that seedling, maybe repotted it once or twice, and when it got big enough, he took it to his garden and planted it there. And maybe that plant is still there today. Maybe it’s a beautiful bush or tree, with lovely, fragrant flowers.

A girl can dream.

book nerd

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Namaste, Nerds

I think that is going to be my 2016 mantra. Or at least one of them. And when I say Nerd, I mean that in the most loving, supportive, nerdy way possible. And of course I’m directing that at you.

So how is 2016 going for you? Is it everything you’d hoped it would be? Have all your wildest dreams come true? Are you already 10 pounds thinner, have 12 new friends, and started your art journal? If so, good on ya!
Over here, 2016 initially got off to a slow start, but is now in Full Swing. I brought the New Year in with my Dad and his family, out in SoCal. For some reason, I had imagined that I would have copious amounts of free time, and that I would be writing every day. After the third day I had to just sigh a big NOPE and let go of that expectation. I spent a lot of time with family, a fair amount of time drinking coffee, a little time with some good friends and a tiny sliver of time writing stuff. I did get A LOT of reading done though, so that was nice.

Actually, I also did a fair amount of yoga in SoCal. My Dad has given me a membership to the “YMCA of the Foothills,” right up the street from his house. This is super handy for when I’m visiting! But so far, not so handy the other 50 weeks out of the year (perhaps this is a subtle attempt at getting me to visit more often?) Anyway, I took advantage of the membership and went to yoga about every other day. On Christmas Eve, we did 108 Sun Salutations. While listening to the Beatles. It was kind of surreal – and really hard! But oh so satisfying. Even though I hurt for 3 days, it was worth it.
Each time I went, I had a different instructor. Which was pretty cool, actually, because I was able to learn a few new poses, and evaluate all the different teaching styles I saw. Why would I care about this, you ask? Because…. I just started training to become a yoga instructor!

That’s right, on May 1, 2016, Buddha willing, I will complete the 200-hour training to be a Registered Yoga Teacher. Namaste indeed!
Class started this last weekend. It’s a pretty intense schedule – we’ll have 3 weekends on, 1 off, through April. Class is 4 hours on Friday nights, 7.5 hours on Saturdays, and 4 hours on Sunday mornings. It’s not all doing yoga – it’s some lecturing, some meditating, and some teaching.
So far, everyone that I’ve mentioned my training to, has said something along the lines of “Oh that’s great, I can totally see you doing that!” Which I will take as a compliment.

Each time I get on my mat and practice yoga, I get the feeling that I’m doing the right thing, and that I’m right were I’m supposed to be. And fortunately, I had that same feeling during classes last weekend. So I know this is going to be a Good Thing for me.
I promised myself I wouldn’t become evangelical about yoga – and I don’t have any intention of doing so, even as I start learning, deepening my own practice, and teaching. But I will say this – yoga is probably the best thing to happen to me – physically, mentally and spiritually. Quitting my Day Job last year comes pretty close though…
Quitting my job last year has not only made me SO MUCH HAPPIER, it’s also given me this opportunity to find yoga and become an instructor so I can bring its benefits to others. How great is that?? 2016 is off to a fantastic start.

yoga teacher training
where i usually practice: Be Love Yoga, Broken Arrow, OK

 

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Finishing Up and Starting New

Well, yesterday was the last day of National Novel Writing Month. And guess what – I finished a 50,000 word story in 30 days. It was definitely down to the wire, and true to my Procrastinat(ive?) Nature, I waited till the very last minute to add over 4,000 words on the last day. I had the story already finished, but hadn’t made the word count requirement. So I kept going back and adding to what was already there. I made it.
I also finished the thing while staying in Austin for a few days, so this blog post is coming at you directly from a very hipster-y coffee shop on East Cesar Chavez on the East side of town. I just saw a dude wearing powder blue coveralls with some kind of straw hat greet some other equally credible hipsters for a meeting of some sort. So I know this place is legit. And just FYI, the cappuccino isn’t too bad.

Looking Backwards
NaNoWriMo ended on November 30th (duh). Which happens to be my Mom’s birthday. Yesterday would have been her 76th birthday, and somehow it was fitting to end this particular story on this particular day. The story I wrote was about a character that showed up in my grief-addled brain after my Mom passed away in 2011. This kick-ass-superhero character was rolling around in my psyche for a while and finally found a way out thanks to NaNoWriMo. I don’t know if anyone will ever read this “novel” besides me, but that’s OK. Maybe she exists because she can do all the things that I couldn’t, I don’t know. Regardless, I told the story that needed to be told and I feel pretty good about that.
(However, my ego is insisting that I tidy it up and “fix” it and have someone read it and try to get it out there. We’ll see how that plays out…)

Thanksgiving weekend was also the first time, 4 years ago, that I came down to Austin to see some music and check out the town. I got to meet the illustrious Bruce Hughes, musician extraordinaire. He’s been kind enough to meet up with me every time I come down, and this time was no exception. Today we caught up over lunch at the Whole Foods Mothership, where we were joined for a few minutes by Scrappy Jud Newcomb, another great Austin musician. We had a good chat about Dr. Hunter S. Thompson whereby I was able to confirm that Scrappy is most definitely Good People.

bruce hughes and scrappy jud newcomb
bruce and scrappy at the saxon pub

There are tons of cool things to do and eat and drink and hear in Austin. I do like it here. But you know what? I think I like Southern California better. Maybe I should be specific and say I like Long Beach / Seal Beach / Sunset Beach better. Partly because it feels more like home to me. But also partly because it’s by the ocean, and I always feel better by the ocean. But I also like SoCal better because anything goes in SoCal. Yes it’s true that “anything goes” in Austin, but most of time I get the feeling that most people are trying really, really hard to push those boundaries. In SoCal, “anything goes” in a super laid back casual kind of way. It’s more relaxing to me, I guess. Sorry ATX.
I have this feeling that I may not be back again for a while.

November is typically a month when the focus is on gratitude or gratefulness. Ideally we strive to practice gratitude all year round, and not just when we eat pie (and I do believe we’re getting there), but it’s more on our minds this time of year as we spend time with loved ones for Thanksgiving. This Thanksgiving I spent with my good friend Dayl, in Roanoke, Texas. She’s moving to Hawaii in a few weeks, and it just worked out that she was on her own for Turkey Day, so I drove down to spend a few days with her before she takes off to write the next chapter in her awesome life. We ate turkey cutlets with tandoori spices and roasted vegetables. A little untraditional, it’s true – but it counts.
I’ve spent many Thanksgivings with friends instead of family. Because friends count as family, you know? Dayl is family to me. I’m so glad we got to spend some time together catching up, and preparing ourselves for whatever happens to be coming next. Because it feels like the start of a new chapter for me, too…
I was a little too busy to do it last month because of that dang novel, but I’ll take a minute now to express my gratitude for the people I’ve met in my life that make me want to be a better person. Or more specifically, those who teach me important lessons, and inspire me to be the best me possible. So, so, grateful.

Looking Forwards
So. December 1. The first day of the last month of 2015. Time to finish up this year’s sh*t and get ready for next year’s sh*t. I think there will be some good sh*t coming our way in 2016.
What are your 2016 plans? How about 2016 wishes? Let’s not do “resolutions” for the new year, but maybe creating some “intentions” wouldn’t be a bad idea…
So we can talk about all that later in the month, but maybe it wouldn’t be bad to start thinking about it a little.

I’m driving home to Tulsa tomorrow, a changed person. I don’t know how exactly, and right now I don’t really know what it means. But it’s different. While that scares the bejeezus out of me, I also know I wouldn’t want it any other way.

HIPSTER LIQUID JUNK BISCUIT
HIPSTER LIQUID JUNK BISCUIT

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