Just because you feel sick doesn't mean you're not healthy
Sometimes even the healthiest-seeming people who do the healthiest things with their lives and bodies get sidelined with things that don’t feel very healthy.
I’m no exception to this rule.
Over the past 2 months or so, even though I do just about everything you might call "healthy" in my life (diet, sleep, supplements, meditating, self care, play, etc), I have noticed a gradual increase in unpleasant symptoms in my body.
Some symptoms have been acutely concerning--like waking up in a coughing fit and having difficulty breathing as if my airways were constricting, some random unrelenting bouts of nausea and GI sickness, and insomnia.
Others have been less acutely concerning, but nonetheless registering on my radar--like what seems like a sudden intolerance to foods that I typically can eat with no problem, brain fog, and extreme fatigue.
In the past, I used to deal with similar issues like asthma, allergies, food sensitivities and intolerances, skin issues, and anxiety.
But over the past several years, as I went through cancer treatment and recovery, these issues gradually fell by the wayside one by one.
As this occurred, we (“we” being the medical team, functional med specialists, and other healers I’d worked with at the time), thought that perhaps the cancer was “the lynchpin” underlying most of the allergies, autoimmune issues, period issues, and so many other chronic problems I’d faced for a lifetime.
Ergo--Eliminate cancer, eliminate every other issue.
Made perfect sense as I found myself just not needing my asthma medication. I stopped getting seasonal allergies and colds. My skin cleared up. My hormones balanced. My cycles were normal. My mind was clear. My sleep was deep and sound.
On the surface, it was easy to also attribute all these welcome changes to all of the “healthy” lifestyle and nutrition changes I’d been making for several years.
Those changes notwithstanding--how then, would I explain what seemed like a resurgence of everything I’d worked so hard to eliminate in my health?
At first, my mind said “Maybe the cancer is back.”
And sure, maybe it is. That’s always a possibility. I have a scan and oncology checkup in 3 weeks and will find out whether that is true or not.
But I am very tapped into my intuition, and Intuition tells me that is probably not the case.
Labs tell me otherwise, too.
For those of you computing and trying to diagnose me--most of my labs are squeaky clean. If you got a grade for how your labs are, I'd definitely get an A.
And yes, I have had the full gamut of labs to test everything from my adrenals (clean) to my thyroid (clean), an entire hormone panel (clean), blood sugar (clean), inflammation (clean), and much more (also clean).
So what gives?
How do we explain someone who is doing “everything right” and “whose labs are perfectly normal,” yet still feels quite poorly in her body?
I was meditating one day and the answer came (as it usually does when I’m in touch with the Universe).
I didn’t ask the Universe what the “diagnosis” was, or even what the “cause” was. After all--the truth is that symptoms and conditions are simply the end result of a long line of favorable circumstances that have all culminated to produce a cluster of effects that manifest into form as a “symptom” and “condition.”
This means often that there’s no “one” thing that causes a medical condition to occur (no matter how badly science and research want to prove this to be true), and also no "one" diagnosis.
For me, I wasn’t looking for diagnoses or causes. I simply wanted to know where the shift in the tide occurred for me.
Knowing the universal human truth that our health is not built from a neverending series of lifestyle changes, nutrition strategies, or out of the box lifestyle changes--but rather--from the state of mind that we hold and the state of consciousness that dominates our lives in any given moment, I tapped in and listened to my heart.
I sat with the story of my life over the past year or so and got really honest with myself.
I was thriving in mind, body, and spirit right up until our trip to Spain in April of this year.
We had a beautiful trip and I’m so grateful for it.
However, there were also several unexpected logistical challenges we faced on that trip that were less than we bargained for on what one might want in a “vacation.”
I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say we didn’t come home feeling relaxed and recharged and we kind of got. a bad taste in our mouths about Spain.
Don't worry, I'm not a Spain hater. I'd go back! But maybe not anytime soon.
After the trip, life returned to normal, though that “normal” included a lot of excitement in our family for about 1.5 months.
I say this all the time to my clients and in the seminars I teach: Good stress is still stress.
Even though I was going through exciting stuff, it was still stress.
The body itself doesn’t know the difference between the adrenaline and excitement that come from speaking at an event and the fear that comes from something unpleasant, like having your iphone stolen out of your pocket in a Spanish train station.
Only the mind knows the difference, and the mind tells the body what to do and how to react, which is why one might seem "more stressful" than another.
Soon after that period of excitement, we were hit with what can only be summed up as utter, life-altering devastation.
Our beloved first born 2-year-old furbaby, Raven, passed away unexpectedly after 4 gut wrenching days spent helplessly watching her rapidly decline in the puppy ICU.
Having been through great loss with human children (though none of my own) and close friends and family members, I can now say that this was easily the most challenging loss and sense of helplessness I’d ever faced.
Between the drama at the vet and dealing with the aftermath, it broke my husband and I into a million pieces. We couldn’t eat, we couldn’t sleep, we couldn't work and we stared into space for days.
Everything in life came to a screeching halt. Yet, paradoxically, life went on in and around us.
That alone, plus the excitement and pleasant/unpleasant stress we faced in Spain and the months to follow -- would likely serve as enough favorable circumstances to challenge anyone’s body to keep up--even a body that had been fed the “right” diet, the “right” supplements, and taken care of through self care about as well as you could possibly dream of.
Immediately following Raven’s death, we packed up our stuff into our campervan and headed west. We just couldn’t be in “Raven’s house.” We needed space to heal and recover.
So, off to Colorado we went.
It was equal parts healing and grueling.
I have 1.5 lungs and several of the muscles that help me breathe were paralyzed in my cancer surgery.
Combine that with moderate to high altitude so ever present in beautiful Colorado, and this was a potential recipe for a big challenge for me.
I accepted the challenge. Even at lower altitudes in Colorado, I struggled with altitude illness symptoms.
But it still beat sitting at home--alone--in grief. Going to Colorado was the lesser of two evils--one evil of staying and one evil of going.
Thankfully I surrendered and rented my own oxygen machine. But even so--three weeks in that state were still a big challenge to my body.
And yes, as expected--my heart and spirit healed well on that voyage.
When we got home from Colorado, we didn't slow down.
We were called to rescued a very young, very high energy, very needy, 7-week old lab puppy baby named Aspen.
Rather, she rescued us.
Aspen found us on August 3, 2019, exactly 34 days after Raven left this earth.
She instantly brought joy, love, hope, and helped partially fill a void in our hearts that was deafeningly empty.
She also brought hours of potty training, a few scary trips to the emergency vet, lots of fresh open wounds from puppy teething, and a need for constant supervision.
It’s not like we didn’t know what we were getting into. We adopted Raven at the same age.
It’s not like we didn’t weigh the question “can we handle this?”
But those weren’t even problems in our mind.
If you’ve ever adopted anyone or anything--when you know in your heart that it’s right (even if it doesn’t make logical sense), you just know.
But as you can probably imagine--between having low reserves in my body, mind, and spirit and jumping headfirst back into puppy momhood--it makes perfect sense that I might continue to see the effects of stress show up in my body.
And just to add a little fuel to the fire--we realized--on another hint from the Universe--that at the same time we adopted Aspen, that it was the exact right time to list our home for sale so we could embark on our next big adventure.
And thus, in retrospect, it all made sense on a recent late September day just how the tide had shifted for me to get me into a state where my body didn't feel well.
Clearly, a lot had happened in my life in 4-5 months. I am not actually Wonder Woman despite the number of WW costume and swag items I own.
No single one of these things was a "cause" of how I felt. I didn't really have or need a "diagnosis." There wasn't really ONE thing that led to the "downfall."
It was a culmination of what could potentially occur to any human body based on a lot of circumstances.
And in every single one of those circumstances--I was living from a place where I was expanding my heart and spirit into the ends of the Universe.
Key phrase there--I was living life to the fullest, and I felt poorly.
I had another “aha.” It was on this day that I changed the definition of healthy for myself and for others.
I wasn’t unhealthy.
It’s not that I wasn’t doing anything right.
It’s not that I had failed somewhere along the way.
It wasn’t really a problem that I was feeling lousy.
Sure, I wasn’t overjoyed that I was waking at 3 AM and feeling ready to throw a party.
And sure, I wasn’t thrilled that it seemed an elimination diet was coming back into my life.
But it was all...perfectly ok. And totally worth it,
Just as I had before so many times before, I chose to redefine what healthy meant for me.
Yes, I still sought care from a local functional medicine specialist and did some additional testing to make sure that I wasn’t missing anything “big.”
And when I filled out the paperwork for that visit, and it asked me to rate how healthy I would consider myself, I didn’t hesitate to check “extremely healthy.”
Because it was clear to me that even though I was experiencing difficulty on the level of the body, that my mind and spirit were still strong and sound.
I knew that in taking BIG brave steps in my life, including being brave and facing so many of my biggest fears head on over the course of just 4-5 months, that perhaps a consequence of that beautiful courage and growth would be that my body would be, in summary, exhausted.
Does that mean I did something wrong?
Does that mean that I need to be worried?
Does that mean that I can be discerning and listen in to what my body is asking for?
Does that mean that I can look back and practice gratitude to my body for being so resilient with all it did to carry my spirit and soul through a very challenging period of months?
In fact, I sit in awe as I reflect on that.
My labs are more or less normal, minus a few things that are a little “off.”
I wasn't being reckless or careless. No, I did so many courageous and bold things in 4-5 months, often more than many people do in a lifetime, and even though I feel less than ideal, somehow, it seems to have barely made a dent in my body--well, at least, according to medical science and to my spirit.
How cool is that?
And therefore, I thank my body for carrying me through that. For being so strong and resilient. For continuing to thrive even in harsh conditions. For giving my soul and spirit a soft place to land, heal, recover, and evolve.
And I’m grateful to now be emerging into a new space in my life---a space where I have the tools and space to give back to and honor my body. To set up favorable circumstances for more energy so that I can continue to shine my light doing the things I love.
Does that mean that I need to go all psycho-crazy about what I’m feeding myself?
Does it mean that I can listen to my intuition about what this beautiful temple would prefer to or not prefer to consume?
Does that mean I need to scale back on some of my plans and expectations, set boundaries I didn’t expect to set, and readjust my compass a bit?
Does it mean that I need to run out and make a million appointments to have people heal me?
Does it mean I can discern and wisely ask for help from those people who have the tools and skills to help me heal myself?
The truth is--health is not found in a box, a bottle or a book, or in a million appointments.
We don’t have to be afraid when something goes “wrong.”
In fact, I don’t believe there is anything “wrong” with me.
It’s a beautiful opportunity to practice surrender, to practice love and acceptance of what “is” and just roll with it.
It's a beautiful opportunity to slow down, tap into intuition and ask "what is this here to teach or bring me?"
After all--without cancer, I would not have reinvented my life, started a business, become a coach, and met so many of the amazing people I now am privileged to call friends.
Was a cancer “wrong?”
Is it something I feel was a “bad” thing?
Was it unpleasant to deal with at times?
Would I go back and do anything differently?
So, when it comes to reexamining this turn of events in my health--I would say the same thing.
I have no regrets about the circumstances in my life that may or may not have contributed to a shift in the tide of how my body feels.
Why? Because how beautiful were those circumstances to help me heal and evolve on a higher, more existential level, something that transcends the body itself?
And beyond that--I know there are gifts to come that will be birthed from my willingness to accept these life circumstances.
Just because I can't see them with my naked eye doesn't mean they don't exist. In fact, they are likely already there,
Likewise, just because I don't feel well doesn't mean that I am unhealthy.
We are never promised for things in life or in our bodies to always be simple, easy, and fun to deal with.
But we are always promised that we will be able to handle and get through whatever is thrown at us.
If you’re reading this, I know that is true for you, too.
Why? Because your own track record of getting through challenging circumstances in your life is 100%.
100 percent. A perfect score. What else in life do you regularly get a perfect score on?
So I challenge you to do this in your health: to pause and reflect on what being healthy really means to you. What is your own definition of healthy?
I challenge you to look beyond the level of your body: what its shape or size is or what illnesses or conditions you may be facing are.
Look beyond whether your diet is “just right.” Look beyond whether you’re doing all the right things.
Get into the present moment.
Are you doing something brave?
Are you doing your very best given the tools and resources you have in this present moment?
The answer to both of those things is ALWAYS yes.
And I challenge you to love yourself enough to be willing to accept whatever flies at you--whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant.
You can handle it. You will handle it.
You are not your body. You are the beautiful soul and spirit that your body carries around. And you can love and thank your body for all it does for you, even when you don’t feel “healthy.”
You can redefine what that means for you in any moment.
You can love yourself enough to let go of old stories or “rules” you “have” to follow.
The only way to sustain long term health is to take healthy action for ourselves from a place of love, not fear. And if you don’t do that, you’ll just continue to struggle, and likely with other struggles.
How will you change the narrative for your health today?
I’d love to chat with you about this. One of my greatest passions is to help women who are feeling stuck and directionless in their health to tap into their intuition and discover a personalized healing path that inspires them and reflects what they love. Shoot me an email and let's discuss what health could mean to you!
You don’t have to constantly spin or feel like you’ve failed when you feel sick or "off" in your body, mind or spirit.
You can feel poorly in your body and 100% joyful in your spirit at any given time.
They aren’t mutually exclusive.
And that, my friends, is the most beautiful path to getting the healthy life you love, defined on your terms.
I'd love to hear from you about how this lands with you!
Sending you love and hugs!
In love and health,