Health,  Life

My Journey to Health, Part III: California Dreaming

California Dreamin’ on Such a Winter’s Day

My next move was westward to L.A. – the land of kale, avocado, juice cleanses, yoga, canyon hikes, holistic healers, entrepreneurial hustlers, aspiring actors, Hollywood glamour and more. I had always dreamed of living in California, not knowing much about it besides being really far, expensive, and quite intriguing. But finally I was making it happen! I could hardly believe it.

img_2242Santa Monica / Venice beach walks

I was taking on another new position – this time in Sales, where my primary focus would be account management and developing a strategy for Delta’s presence in the music industry. It was exactly where I wanted to be and what I wanted to be doing – building relationships 🙂

Once again I found myself in a similar position as when I moved to Atlanta…setting out on my own and knowing very few people in a new city. But I was ready to learn and grow and discover. I was ready to dive wholeheartedly into my career and all the potential it held. I was so ready…but my body wasn’t. It hadn’t quite recovered from my recent bout of mono and months of fatigue, nor resolved any of my ongoing digestive issues. In fact, I was about to add even more stress. Stress – something I never realized could be so powerful. Or that our body’s ability to manage it was entirely controlled by our hormones…and without those in balance (as in my case), well, good luck!

Until the Sun Comes Up Over Santa Monica Boulevard

After two months in LA, my amazing sister came to visit and help me for a month. She was (and is!) such a blessing. My apartment was still full of boxes, as I was so busy with work and travel, or exhausted when not, I was hardly able to get the basics done. Like laundry, cooking, dishes and little errands. It felt so hard and I wasn’t sure why. Was I just being lazy? But I knew deep down that I am so far from lazy. Something was off. Which made me even more grateful for Laura’s help in so many ways – with meals, cleaning, unpacking and also joining me on more fun things like beach walks, conversation and exploring LA together 🙂

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On a private jet with my networking wing woman 🙂

After that I managed for a while…travel, account visits, music conferences, company events, training, meetings. Riding the adrenaline rush of so much excitement. There was a stretch of two months when I was only home two weeks. But I loved the challenge, the opportunity, the experiences and the people. Especially the people 🙂 My colleagues, clients and new business connections were all so wonderful and made my work truly meaningful. That is what I treasured most <3.

1395950_10102657357885439_5165050358650170846_nEnjoying a work event with my lovely colleague!

I was managing eight travel agencies, another half dozen corporate accounts, fielding all new music business leads and creating a brand new loyalty program for music artists and bands. It was a lot to say the least. And it was all new to me. On top of that, as always, I put a lot of pressure on myself to do everything perfectly. I really should know better by now haha. I was doing pretty well considering, but as the work and travel piled up, I began to fall behind. I struggled to find the energy, time and mental clarity to get everything done. Late night events didn’t help my fatigue. Nor did having to eat out all the time ease my digestion.

On and On and On

During this time I tried everything possible to get myself feeling better. I kept searching for help almost to a fault. Down the road I would learn that I needed to stop looking externally and start looking within…I was the answer (the book “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hayes is a good one on this). However in the meantime, I spent all my extra time and money on this quest for health. I was over conventional medicine, as that got me nowhere thus far. I had grasped that my body had the ability to heal naturally, with the right nutrition and support, so moved on to alternatives…get ready!

  • I got extensive testing by an integrative doctor, which yielded some really interesting findings, but her solution was vague besides hundreds of dollars in supplements, neurotherapy and GcMaf injections. Um what? I tried the first round of supplements, but had no real guidance on what to eat and just became frustrated with little change.
  • I saw an essential oils practitioner, but felt somewhat duped and unclear as to how they worked. I’ve actually heard miracle stories about essential oils, but was not sure how they would help me.
  • I tried rolfing to release my constant pain and tightness, but received no lasting relief.
  • I got acupuncture to help with my fatigue, weak immune system, digestion and hormone imbalances. I actually experienced the best results with this – I was no longer getting sick all the time and I even got one period! The second in 9 years. But progress was slow, I was still having major stomach problems, and at $100 a session (twice a week ideally), I couldn’t afford to continue financially or time-wise.
  • I pulled a true ‘California’ 😉 and tried eating vegan for 2 weeks, but that made me feel even worse.
  • I was recommended to see a Clinical Nutritionist who did a really incredible assessment called “Quantum Reflex Analysis” (QRA), which tests the bio-energetic status of our organs, glands, and body systems using acupuncture reflex points. She determined that most of my digestion system was weak, originating in my gall bladder and liver, so we worked on those first, along with a parasite and few other things. I noticed a big difference in my ability to sleep (I would always wake up after ~4 hours), and almost instantly could stay asleep for 6-7 hours. But that also got expensive and after a couple months, I didn’t feel like it improved how I was feeling enough.
  • Then I did more personal research and embarked on self-supplementation. Probably pretty stupid, but I was fed up with feeling sick and no one being able to help! Finally I quit that because it wasn’t sustainable with my traveling, and let’s face it, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I had really strong suspects around what was off, but no way to identify the true source.
  • I had resisted “modern” medicine for a while, but was finally struggling so much that I agreed to go to the Mayo Clinic for a full work up (you’re welcome Mom 😉 <3 ). That way I could rule out any functional problems. They did figure some things out – delayed gastric emptying caused by pelvic floor dysfunction (from my prior colon surgery), but also left a lot untouched. As if that was the sole reason behind all my health issues. They addressed my lack of menstrual cycle to the extent that “your symptoms are consistent with hypothalamic amenorrhea. Let me know if you have any questions.” When I asked what I should actually do about that, they reverted to taking birth control for the estrogen (I already tried that for 5 years with no improvement, plus it again ignores the root cause), as well as reducing stress in my life to let my body heal (valid).

At this point, my stomach was in pain almost every time I ate. It would get super bloated, to the extent that I looked pregnant. I burped up everything I ate (sorry if that’s gross, but it’s the truth). Yet I was eating healthy food and doing everything “right”, so couldn’t understand why? Eventually I was not able to go to the bathroom at all and had to get a colonic every week. The guttate psoriasis I had a few years prior flared up again all over my body. I couldn’t make it through a day without needing to lay down and rest, I was so exhausted, and always felt feverish in the evenings – my body chilled and head hot. My body was a toxic, imbalanced mess.

If you Need to Crash then Crash and Burn

On the work front, that October I had two “screw ups” on back-to-back days, which may have been minor to some, but to me they represented the cumulation of all my health issues and inability to perform basic functions. I had so much brain fog from adrenal fatigue, I couldn’t keep anything together. I realized that I could no longer continue in my current state and needed to make drastic changes. So I finally committed to taking a medical leave from work. It was something I never thought I could actually do. Or could justify – what would people think? I did not have a life-threatening disease. I probably appeared fine. But in truth my health was impacting my essential livelihood.

By this time though, it was one of the easiest decisions I have made. Because it was the only decision I could make. It was also one of the best things I have ever done for myself in my entire life. I put myself first this time. Something I should have done a long time ago. But I didn’t want to be “selfish” or let anyone down, especially my leadership. However I realized that in order for me to give of my time, my love, my energy and my gifts, I had to have something to give from. And my tank was empty.

We’ve Only Just Begun

From here I finally began to turn my life around and am beyond grateful. I’ll share more about that next (and not wait a month!), but want to leave you with a few thoughts on what I learned.

It can be overwhelming how many options / resources are out there that could potentially help you with various needs (health or otherwise) – how do you know who or what is right for you? As you can see, I didn’t have much direction and sought out everyone haha. When instead I needed to get more in touch with my intuition. It’s real people! I listened to everyone else, but never myself – the one who knows me best. These days I like to say “Think less, feel more,” and make continual efforts to practice this. You’ll know what feels right.

One thing I know feels right is being in LA for now. I am so thankful to have dreamed big enough to take the risk and move to California. It has been a really inspiring and eye opening place to be on so many fronts. It also led me to what (or who) made the biggest difference in my journey, which was starting to work with my coach (athletic performance coach, career coach, health coach, life coach, Olympian and all-around incredible human being), Caroline Burckle. Through a random connection, I was put in touch with Caroline and I knew from our first call that I wanted her in my life. She challenged me with questions that no one else had…questions that made me dig deep and think for myself about old thought patterns, beliefs, goals and so much more.

With her support, I’ve been able to:

  • Increase my awareness, especially around the mind-body connection. Don’t underestimate the power of the mind to affect the body – like the famous quote “If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you can’t.” Same goes for how you want to feel. I didn’t understand how closely tied these were until I began looking at my state of chronic stress over the years. I was completely out of touch with not only what my body wanted/needed, but what I wanted/needed in my life (mentally, spiritually, emotionally, lifestyle, etc)
  • Take my power back  – to own my life and my health (if I didn’t do anything, no one else would for me)
  • Stop thinking and start doing (one small step is enough – just start and take action!)
  • See possibility free from perception (if you could do ANYTHING without failing, what would it be?)
  • Overcome my fear around what other people would think (guess what, it doesn’t matter! Seriously)
  • Know that self-care is not self-ish (this is hard but important! You can only give your best when you are at your best)

And this has changed not only my health, but my WORLD.

I will tell you how I began to heal next!

Yours Jenuinely,

xoxo

P.S. Can you guess the songs?!

2015 Maderas Jungle Waves
Photo cred: Nick Onken

 

 

 

 

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