Anger letters: a tool for healing

On the backs of scrap paper I scribble and rant and punctuate and dot periods with a vengeance. I also write slowly, in small print, crying and pausing to really put into words what is inside. Then, I go back and scribble the same word or words over and over and over again on a fresh, new sheet of paper, next to doodle art, after staring off into space for a long time. I laugh and snort and wipe my nose and without time constraint, all by myself, I release.

This is part of healing. This is the purging of years and years of pent up anger and frustration and pain and sorrow and grief. With the intention to write whatever comes and to burn or shred the letters, I write to a specific person, myself, or to no one in particular and I get real, honest.

These Anger Letters have been hugely valuable to me this past year as I explore depths of myself with love and acceptance. These Anger Letters have allowed me to truthfully, practice non-judgement towards myself, and thus in turn, others. As I write, my logical mind knows that what I am writing is “ridiculous” or hypocritical or mean or selfish or hateful, but I write it anyway because it is true. If I don’t let it out, it will stay inside, festering and growing. Anger will come out eventually. If we don’t allow it to release in healthy ways, it will come out in unhealthy ways (disease, bursts of rage at friends/family/kids/animals, in confusion/frustration, fear, etc.). Anger Letters are a tool for our healing journey. Anger Letters are a way to put voice to what the logical mind tries to silence in the name of “being a good person,” “because it’s the Christian/yogic/Buddhist/etc. thing to do,” or because we think we should be perfect. With each Anger Letter we write we are taking a stand for ourself, a stand for truth, we are facing our past and releasing and forgiving and letting go of blame, hate, shame, etc. If we don’t let that sh*t out, it’s going to rot and diarrhea all over the place. These Anger Letters are a much cleaner option.

How to write an Anger Letter:

  1. pick up a pen or pencil (physically writing is much more kinesthetic: meaning it’s a whole body release)
  2. grab a stack of paper and write and write and write, unfiltered, without making sense (seemingly)
  3. address it to a specific person/yourself/God or just write randomly with no agenda
  4. allow yourself to feel and be free with the understanding that NO one is going to read this
  5. when you’re done, you can burn it in a nice ceremonial cleansing-like experience (although that can be messy, I tried that in the toilet once, it didn’t work so well), shred it, or find some other meaningful way to get rid of it. I like shredding: it still feels cleansing with the noise and slow ripping of the paper and words, but less hazardous.
  6. enjoy and feel the release and freedom. it is intoxicating.

Have you tried writing Anger Letters? Or do you have any other healthy ways to let out anger?

I’d love to hear your experiences on your healing journey as you release anger. Let’s let that sh*t go and dance in freedom together!

Namaste my friend. Shine on.

Why am I alive?

sundial bridge
I’ve been thinking a lot about what is it that I really want? What is it that drives me? What makes me come alive? 
 
Health. 
 
My health. My wholeness. I want to live fully, doing what I want to do, going where I want to go, giving and receiving, without impingement, without pain, with full acceptance and love and grace and happiness. 
 
Your health. Your wholeness. I want every one to live in their fullest potential. I want each person I come across to be so inspired and filled with hope that no fear, no self doubt, no judgement will stop the Goodness inside. Full, beautiful expressions of who you (and I) have been created to be, sparking the Divine spark of light to pop and crackle like a sparkler 💥 and creating the most brilliant lifelong symphony of the physical manifestation of love. 
 
The earth’s health. Our earth’s wholeness. There is a rumbling and gurgling that something isn’t right. There is a disconnect between our lifestyle on this planet and the sacred creation that it is. This mass of water and air and rock that supports and sustains us and is the only place we call home. 
 
This, this is what I want. Health. 

Are you a sissy?

I’ve been exploring femininity both in myself and in the yoga classes I teach and have found it to be profoundly enlightening.

I told my students in class today to embrace their “sissy side.” I said it to provoke. I said it to stir up (real) belief systems. And I ask this question of you now to get straight to the heart of the matter, breaking old thought patterns and bringing freedom. How does this make you feel? Are you a sissy?

If you are still reading, ask yourself what is a sissy, anyway? I know what school kids mean by it when they say it and that proves my point: there is a real attack and diminishing of feminine qualities in our world. (Why is a whole other story, so I’ll skip that for today.) What I want to invoke is an embrace of the Divine Feminine that each one of us has. Femininity is nurture, kindness, patience, gratitude, interdependence, emotion, meekness, sensitivity, quietness, grace, innocence, flirtatiousness, softness, acceptance, love. These are great qualities to possess! Ones that our world is desperate and hungry for! So, I ask again, will you embrace your “sissy side?”

In a world that idolizes masculine traits such as independence, aggression, tough skin, competition, strength, experience, activity, self confidence, harshness, rebellion; in a world where even women try to be more masculine in order to get by and make it (in singleness, in careers, in order to be seen at church, etc.), we all may need to embrace our “sissy side!” (There is a difference between being a sissy and embracing aspects of the metaphor, let’s get that straight.)

I want to be both strong and meek, confident and sensitive, aggressive and kind. We need both masculinity and femininity, we need the yin and the yang in our world and in order to have that, we need to first embrace it in ourselves.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Let me know how it goes!

Namaste.

Painful Hope: Belief

I have been experiencing excruciating pain in my left leg for some time now but 2 weeks ago it got unbearable. I have had a little bit of an occasional limp these past several months but now, it’s constant. Pain sucks. Pain hurts. Pain is real. Yet, is it?!

This week was monumental for many reasons: I turned 38, I had some big personal revelations, I finally found out the root cause of the leg pain and am working on it, and more. I’m making huge progress on and in my health and life and over and over again I’m reminded that things take time and patience. I said to a yoga class of mine this week that “if we think we have ever arrived: we’ve got all the patience and all the hope and all the health we possibly ever could, we are already deceived.” There is always more. Always. Heaven isn’t fully realized on earth, yet. Trials and tribulations are still here. We are working out our salvation and yet, and yet, we have it all. Right now. Right here, we have all the fullness of Life available to us and it’s real.

Here is where our mind’s get to be constantly renewed: as we live each day and moment we are confronted with choice: will I succumb to the pain and give up? Will I believe people who tell me that “this is just what aging looks like?” Will I give up even one small dream for the sake of convenience and to avoid difficulty? I say no! Yes I cry. Yes I lay on my back with my leg propped up, fully aware of the pain to the point where it feels like I’m in a swirling ball of confusion. Yes I don’t always know how to respond with kindness when I get asked for the 12th time that day why I’m limping. But, and a big but, I keep moving forward. I keep looking to the God who says anything is possible. Anything is possible. Anything. The question is, do I believe? In the easy times it’s so simple to believe. It’s when the s*it hits the fan that our belief comes to the surface. Over and over again I have to say yes: “I believe.” I hope. I have to cut through the surface-hope that is just wishful thinking and get to the hope with a soul. Hope with a substance. Hope that pierces through whatever lie I may be believing so God and I can polish the diamond of hope and I believe again.

Hope

I believe, I truly believe that we can live a life free if pain. My beliefs are being put to the test. All. The. Time. I take a step forward, see how my beliefs are coming along, fix where they got faulty, hope again, and take another step forward. Sometimes it’s a run. Sometimes it’s a galloping skip. Sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back. Sometimes it’s with a limp. But I truly believe that everyday, in every way, I am getting better and better! That is a good feeling. That is belief in action. That is hope.

The reality of these beliefs may not always be pretty, they may actually be downright ugly for a time. There may be pain. It will probably be hard. But belief is real. You and I are real. That’s the only way I want to live: for real. I pray we never give up, we never lose hope. We keep pressing forward to the prize of heaven on earth. I think there is no better prize. The beauty comes; it always does, and it’s so much sweeter when we know that we didn’t give up. This is reality.

What are your beliefs?

xoxo

Yoga is What We Need

 

Wow! I just stumbled across this profound documentary called “The Fire of Yoga” that chronicles troubled youth from the Bronx, Christians in Jackson, Mississippi, and senior citizens in Los Angeles showing how deeply impacting yoga has been in their lives.

From a teen who has been incarcerated, to a woman who fought cancer, to an 81 year-old yoga teacher who used to struggle with drugs and alcohol and was an absentee parent, these people are now experiencing peaceful, positive, healthy, and fulfilling lives as they give back to their communities, enjoy their families, teach others, and live strong lives not only physically but also spiritually. This documentary describes and shows a lot of what I have seen in my own life and those of my students and friends. Let me know what you think.

“Yoga is a way of life. It’s not like a regular exercise. From eating well to thinking well it enhances your spiritual and physical being. Yoga’s got it going on! I think it’s what we need for the new millennium.”

You can watch the 41 minute video here: The Fire of Yoga Documentary

Scars and Imperfections: vulnerability and courage

ovarian cancer scars

For a long time I have been embarrassed by all the scars I have on my belly. I have actually felt shame that I didn’t have the super flat and amazing abs that I had all my life, pre-cancer and that we see in so many pictures. Last night, as I was watching a video of myself doing yoga on my paddleboard, I saw my scars and imperfections for what they truly are: beautiful, and a deeper healing is setting in.

I wouldn’t be alive today if these scars weren’t there.

These scars are an ever constant reminder of the hell I went through as a stage 3 ovarian cancer survivor, getting a 5 pound tumor removed, then 50 tumors removed, then a hysterectomy, then a hole in my colon, getting an infection, then being attached to a vacuum for 6 weeks, then a 12 hour surgery to remove more tumors and organs, then an ileostomy bag, then, and finally, freedom. These scars show the story of hardship and trials, pain, and tears of not only me, but my family and friends. I have wanted to get as far away from those memories as I could, for a long time. I have slowly faced them as I have been able. This is my next step in the journey: showing them, being vulnerable and open, facing fears, and inviting in even more healing.

I have prayed for them to dissipate. I have tried all sorts of creams and wraps and detoxes and exercise and yet, they are still there. The mountains and valleys, the craters, and holes, the lumps of fat displaced from all the surgeries, the crevices of stiff scar tissue that try to hold me back.

Today though, I am making the choice to see that these scars also tell an incredible story of hope, of courage, of the power of prayers and support of family and friends, of medical staff who were creative and revolutionary; all these people who believed. These scars do tell of the ugliness of cancer, the evilness of disease, the destruction of surgery, and yet, there is a beauty in them: the power of human ingenuity, God’s miracles through our work, that our thoughts of limitations are only in our minds, that truly anything is possible, and that there is beauty in imperfection. These scars show the story of where I have been, who I am today, and in my story, I wouldn’t be where I am, doing what I do, without them. So, I embrace them.

I know that I will continue to walk out this journey called life, every day. Today marks a new one though, and I’m setting up a marker.

Hope exists. Nothing is impossible. Keep moving forward. Fail a lot. Have the courage to stand back up again, and maybe, just maybe, we can change the world through our courage.

Thanks for reading and loving.

Namaste.

Cancer doesn’t define me

IMG_4867

This week I was featured in Redding’s local newspaper, the Record Searchlight. I’m 12 years post the ovarian cancer surgeries, chemo, and death sentence and sharing my story on a broader scale has allowed me to talk and connect with others who are either going through cancer or are post experience as well. It has been a real revelatory and profound week.

My hope has always been to use what the devil meant for evil, for Good and I’ve had the privilege to see it happen over and over again. It makes me so glad to see that the sh*t I went through isn’t for not. That the darkest places I experienced can be turned around to shine light and hope. This fuels and inspires me to keep pressing on! And yet, I am so much more than a cancer survivor. I am so much more than someone who is strong. I am so much more than a yoga instructor. I am so much more than a woman. I am so much more than someone who works hard. I am so much more than someone who inspires. I am so much more, and so are you.

There is actually a small-ness and belittling effect when we singley identify ourselves with xyz, whether it’s being a Christian, a yogi, a cancer fighter, a woman, a college grad, etc. Our identity’s are not determined by what we do, by what we say, by who we present to the world. We are so much more. I am so much greater. You are way more important. Let us rise to the calling that is from heaven. Let us explore the depths of this being (self) that we have been created to be. Let’s try and work and explore and adventure into the innermost parts of God and ourselves to turn this world upside down and let Peace and Hope and Love and Beauty prevail! It’s going to be messy and hard and fun and challenging, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Who’s with me?

You can see a video of me sharing about the benefits of yoga as a healing process here, from this interview.

Namaste. Shine on!

xoxo

La Salud Body Wrap

A few days ago a friend asked me, innocently enough, “What are you going to do about it?” referencing the sporadic recurring pain in my leg from an old skiing accident. I’ve thought about this question a lot over the past few days and wanted to share what I have been doing because, really, most people probably don’t know how one recovers from 3/4 of a broken lower leg and an ovarian cancer death sentence. I mention the cancer because they are inextricably linked to the pain and debilitation I am experiencing now and am recovering from.

We humans are interconnected in so many ways, not just spirit, soul, and body, but also with each other, God, and even further than that: the cells, muscles, ligaments, and tissues of our body’s are connected from one hip to the opposite hand, one foot to the same knee, the chest to the back, etc. Because of this beautiful dance that we have with each other, ourselves, and our Creator, there isn’t a single fix or cure-all for most people. Even the miracle stories we hear, whether they are healing, financial, or otherwise, have a backstory. For example, when the Holy Spirit fell in “tongues of fire” in Acts 2, the “and suddenly” of that miracle was preceded by “all joining together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14). Those “and suddenly” moments (Acts 2:2) happen, and they are miraculous, for sure, but there is more to the story and it usually involves patience. Patience is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and one that is hard to live through, especially in our modern world of instant everything. As I grow in fruitfulness, i.e. patience, take what I’ve learned back to your own life and be fruitful and healed.

What I am in doing to recover from cancer and a painful old skiing accident:

1. Chiropractic: I have been seeing a Network Spinal Analysis chiropractor since October and for 6 months, saw him 3 times a week. You can check out my guy and why he’s amazing, here.

2. Massage: I’ve been getting it once a week to loosen the hold that the scar tissue has from surgeries (I’ve had 12), falls, accidents, and bruises. I’ve come to think of these two health care practitioners working together like this: my chiropractor is shifting my body structurally and neurologically and my massage therapist is kneading out the bumps in the road, so-to-speak, so that the whole system works better together.

3. Foam Roller: recommended by both my massage therapist and chiropractor, this helps to continue to release the scar tissue and myofascial tissue that has been bound up from all the surgeries and injuries. I use the blue Go Fit Foam Roller and have been really happy with it. I like that it comes with a little instruction book to show how to use it.

4. Body wrap: as my body continues to shift and realign itself, toxins that have been trapped and stored in my cells from the 13 weeks of 8 hours a day chemo, CT-scan contrast, narcotic drug pain relievers, pesticides, herbicides, pollution in the air, and even toxic emotions and bad choices, need to be removed. Some of the benefits of this wrap are: detoxification, growth and regeneration of new skin cells, it’s so natural it’s edible, reduces stretch marks, scars, and cellulite, empties and destroys fat cells. This above picture is me wrapped from the chest down with the wrap.

5. Essential oils: my massage therapist gave me a therapeutic blend of oils to reduce inflammation and it is seeming to help with some of the pain. I’ve been able to get to sleep at night without taking a pain reliever, which is good.

6. Yoga: it boosts immunity, allows for better sleep, and promotes overall better health. You can read more about it here and join me for classes here.

7. R.I.C.E: R = rest, I = ice, C = compression, E = elevation (above the heart). A long standing first aid application for injuries.

8. Nutrition: I eat organic, local, and take supplements to help my body perform at it’s peak. I take a daily multi called Thrive and have added the Monatau Extreme recently to help rid my body of the stored toxins from all the new adjusting I’m receiving from my chiro and massage therapist.

9. Dry brush: Before I shower, I dry brush my skin. Some of the benefits are: increases circulation and lymphatic drainage, tightens the skin, stimulates the lymph system to drain toxins, helps muscle tone, and rejuvenates the nervous system. I use a natural boar bristle dry-brush. You can get one similar to what I use here.

10. Castor Oil Pack: I’ve been applying this directly to my old break site in my leg and I’ve used it on the ileostomy and surgical incision scars on my belly. Benefits include: relives pain, decreases inflammation, detoxifies, it’s also been said to help with infertility. I use cold pressed and cold processed castor oil so the nutrients are preserved and wool flannel to apply it. Plastic wrap will help secure it in place. Learn more about how to apply it and the benefits here.

11. Prayer: Everything is possible to those who believe (Mark 9:23). Jesus told us to pray for God’s “will (to be) done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10) and because there is no sickness or disease or pain in heaven, I am praying and asking for prayer for this to manifest in my life, and in yours. One of God’s many names is Jehovah Rapha, which means healer (Exodus 15:26).

12. Advil: when all else fails. I am not a fan of drugs, but when the pain is too incomprehensible and all my other efforts haven’t worked, I need a relief. This is a good point for many reasons: don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater; God gave us pain relievers; don’t abuse, stop using them and try other things first; this is not meant to be a way of life: your body is in pain for a reason and it’s a signal that something needs to change; being in too much pain is exhausting and not good either, the body needs a reprieve in order to mend and heal.

I don’t do all these things at once or even in the same week. Too much detoxification can be dangerous as well and your body can experience a detoxification crisis. Talk to your health care practitioner and get help with your specific situation. We are all different and it helps to be in community and on a team to be the best you possible. La Salud offers a Health Coach and is a great place to start.

As with all things, go slow, take your time, and enjoy the journey. I’ll be smelling the roses, come join me!

Namaste and God bless.

How to prevent colds and illnesses

As of late, I have been noticing that my friends who are 10+ years younger than me often have a cold, or a headache, have to call off work, feel exhausted, and/or aren’t nearly as active as I am. This has lead me to do some research into sickness and diseases. I’ve come across some fascinating articles from pHd’s, university’s, medicals centers, and nurses and wanted to share my findings.

“Nutrition is a widely accepted tool for prevention of chronic diseases” – according to the Washington State University. “Hydration, plant-based foods, probiotics, exercise, and vitamins and minerals are 5 ways you can prevent colds and flus” – says the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

This seems somewhat obvious to me. Don’t most people know these things, I wonder? Are my friends just not privy to such helpful info?

I remember a past roommate of mine who suffered from chronic back pain. I was working for a chiropractor at the time and loved his expertise and suggested she see him. After months of resistance, she finally did and several weeks later she told me, “Wow. I had no idea how much pain I was in! I was so used to it that it became part of my life and I tolerated it. It’s not until I’ve become nearly pain free that I can see how bad it was.” It reminds me of the frog in the boiling water analogy: if a frog is put in a pot of boiling water, it will jump out immediately. If a frog is put into a pot of room temperature water and the heat is added slowly, it will stay there and be boiled to death. I think we humans are the same way, and I’m no exception. We need to think bigger than the pot/situation in which we find ourselves. After all, we aren’t amphibians or reptiles. We can think and choose differently.

I experienced a deadly health condition (ovarian cancer) at 24 and have been exploring what it means to be truly healthy ever since. I can see my own past (and current!) bad behaviors mirrored in others and wonder how I can best use my experience to help. Hitting people over the head with all the knowledge I have hasn’t really worked. Me being silent about it and letting people continue to get colds and have headaches and pain, isn’t helpful either. I’m exploring a different option through this blog and sharing my journey. My hope is that you can avoid the hell that I experienced and live a much richer and fuller life.

So, how have I gained the health I have today after being told multiple times that I wouldn’t live, having had 13 weeks of 8 hours-a-day chemotherapy, a dozen blood transfusions, my abdomen sliced from my sternum to hips 5 times, a 5 pound tumor and 50 tumors taken out-at-one-time? That’s a long story, maybe for another time. The short version is to never give up. Look beyond what you can see. Cry, laugh, sing, dance, do yoga, take supplements, eat organic, work with alternative as well as mainstream health care practitioners and in various fields, talk to people, pray, and keep moving forward.

If you want to read more of my story now, visit http://www.lasaludorganics.com and check out the Meet Audrey tab. Today, I take just 3 supplements and eat whole, real, organic food, with the occasional treat to In-n-Out or a steak house. I’ve learned to lighten my grasp on “my health” and I recognize that it’s so often out of fear that we do and don’t do things: I used to be extremely rigid and regimented in what I ate and didn’t, ALL THE TIME. Thankfully, perfect love casts out fear (1John 4:18) and so I lean into His heart for me (and the world) and am watching this fear and control leave as I step into more and more health. It’s funny how it works that way. I let go, still using my knowledge and understanding (not throwing the baby out with the bathwater), and I get even healthier.

May love and health come to you like a river! Thanks for coming on the journey with me. I’d love to hear how it’s going for you.
Namaste!

Read more from the UT Medical Center: http://www.utmedicalcenter.org/news/370/5-ways-nutrition-can-prevent-cold-flu-and-treat-them/
Read more from Washington State University: http://www.pitt.edu/~super4/38011-39001/38711.ppt

My approach to food: simple

I eat a green smoothie nearly every day and have since December of 2008 when I purchased my Vitamix blender you see pictured here. What I love about green smoothies is that it starts my day off right: when else would I eat 1 whole banana, 2 mangos, 2 oranges, a salad, and some seaweed, all in one sitting?!! On the days that I sleep too late, have a breakfast meeting, or am not at my house, I have to intentionally make sure I eat my green veggies and fruits throughout the rest of the day, otherwise I feel less energetic, respond and think slower, and have trouble with my intestines. I don’t eat the same smoothie ingredients everyday and some smoothies are tastier than others (I constantly experiment), but that, actually, is part of the simplicity.

In season: the earth cycles through seasons and as it does, the plants change to match. God designed this so that we humans could thrive in each of these seasons. We don’t have watermelons growing in the winter, we have squashes, hearty green leafy veggies, and citrus. We don’t have pumpkins growing in the summer, we have juicy melons, plump corn, and cherries. In the fall and winter, our bodies need to protect themselves and prepare for the colder temperatures, darker days, and less activity by “fattening” up, so to speak; the earth grows denser and heartier foods to help, citrus to provide the extra vitamin C we need. In the summer we are active, we are outside playing, we are sweating in the heat and so nature provides juicier foods to compensate for the sweat and perspiration, the activity and quicker paced life we have and so we grab some nectarines and run off to the lake.

Simplicity: I am a huge fan of whole, organic, real, food. It is what we have always eaten and is built into the earth by design. It takes me nearly no time to peel a banana, some oranges, pour in some frozen mangos, wash some greens, sprinkle in some seaweed (or maca powder, or cacao, or goji berries, or soaked nuts, or whatever else you have or want to try), pour in some water, and hit power. I like juicing, but hardly ever do it. The blender provides the fiber our body’s need to help with digestion and cleansing, and the sugars in the fruit get absorbed slowly, it saves money by eating the whole food, plus, I love the ease of clean up. I stick the Vitamix under the faucet, pour in some soap, stick it on the base, turn it on for 45 seconds, and use the suds to wash it and my other dishes from the day. MUCH simpler than a juicer, with less of the sugar rush, and easier on my wallet.

How: I get a food box from my local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) once a week and it takes the brain work out of grocery shopping. It brings me fresh, in season, whole, real, organic food and can be delivered to my door (I pick mine up). The difference in this food is incomparable to the grocery store kind. It feels alive. You can see, smell, and taste the difference, and, it’s so simple! I go to the grocery store for my organic eggs, cheese, butter, meat, (or if I run out of stuff) but I can get those from the CSA as well (even a larger box). I also enjoy that I am supporting a local farmer who is not only providing for me and his/her family, but also isn’t thinking short term gain: s/he is taking caring of the planet by not polluting it with pesticides, GMO’s, and chemical fertilizers.

New diets, the next “highest antioxidant” food craze, and packaged convenience products will keep coming, and going, and I don’t completely knock them. These things are important in helping us understand the relationship between the body and it’s needs, what the earth and God have provided for us to flourish, and in making our lives simpler; but so often, we just need to get back to the basics. Marketing and business play a huge role in all of this and it is something to be aware of: who is gaining $ at the expense of people. It may not always be obvious, but sit back, enjoy a whole food smoothie, drink a cup of tea (or coffee) and watch the seasons change. You’ll see who has your best interest in mind with their company/service/product, and you are powerful enough to do something about it. Money talks.

May you live, fully alive.
Namaste!