Digestion, Gut Health, and Me: Healing (Part IV)

After the laryngopharyngeal reflux diagnosis, the doctor recommended a pill called Omeprazole, which lists lupus as one of its “rare” side effects. Rare or not, I refused to take it or the next prescription he provided. That’s how I ended up with a naturopath, Dr. Megan. Seeing a naturopath is one of the best decisions I’ve made.

Dr. Megan took a more integrative approach, meaning prescription drugs was not her first suggestion. She wanted me to heal on a metaphysical and physical level.

METAPHYSICAL

Third Chakra

The first thing that resonated with me was the importance of healing my third chakra, which is associated with personal power. I reflected on places where I felt stuck, such as my occupation. I thought about ways I currently give my power away, such as in conversations with family. Next, I did a guided meditation focused solely on the third chakra, and I used a mudra Dwight suggested. Immediately, I found myself speaking up in private, public, and professional settings.

The Artist’s Way

Dr. Megan also recommended a book called, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Initially, I didn’t think I needed this book. I thought it was for wayward creatives. Even though I didn’t consider myself lost, I did have a tendency to downplay what I did create. So, I sat myself down, read a chapter each week, committed to writing Morning Pages, and took myself on Artist’s Dates. I kid you not, by chapter three, I felt lighter, more playful, and more creative than usual, which in some way helped to heal my body.

PHYSICAL*

Elimination Diet

Another thing Dr. Megan wanted me to do, against my will, was an elimination diet. She wanted to make sure I didn’t have a food sensitivity or food allergy. As much as I like to eat, this part stressed me out for a little while. But eventually, I saw the benefit of eliminating dairy, most meats, wheat, shellfish, soy, and specific spices. As much as I like to eat, the elimination diet gave my gut a much-needed rest. Think of it like a detox. It really made it easier for me to see how wheat and some dairy are problematic.

De-Stress

Even with all of these changes, my cough hasn’t gone completely away. However, it has subsided. During those times of little-to-no coughing, I’ve noticed something. When my stress increases, so does my cough. For example, if I have an editing client whose manuscript needs more work than I originally thought or students are pissing me off during finals week, the coughing begins and continues through the night. When life is easy going, there is almost no coughing.

This reaction is similar to when I was in Costa Rica. In that country, we had little access to “bad” foods, life was simple and free, and I didn’t have a care in the world. Panamá was the opposite. It was more like being in the States, especially with access to all the food I shouldn’t have been devouring.

So, in addition to yoga, meditation, a probiotic (with ashwagandha), and journaling, I have also begun taken longer breaks in between activities. For example, I used to go from grading college students’ work to editing a nurse’s dissertation with no visible break. Now, I sometimes sit and stare out of the window for five minutes. This has been one way to signal to my brain and body to calm down before we begin a new task.


When the ENT doctor first handed me the Omeprazole script, he said, “Don’t expect immediate changes. It took how long for you to develop this? It’s going to take time for it to go away, too.”

Although I opted not to take medicine, he’s still right. Healing is not linear, whether we’re talking about mental or physical health. I’m not at 100%, but I don’t feel bad about it. I feel better simply because I understand how I ignored how stress and anxiety affected my body over the years and now know what I can do to repair the damage. That’s what I continue to focus on each day.  

Thanks to you if you’ve read one or all of these. It’s appreciated!

*My physical health maintenance already included working out four times a week and decreased intake of sugar and carbs. What’s described here is in addition to that regimen.


Digestion: First Day of Senior Year (Part I)

Digestion: Undergrad (Part II)

Digestion: Adulthood (Part III)

*Monday Notes: Third Chakra

*woo-woo warning: this is a metaphysical conversation, and it’s a little longer than normal.


“…and do it with joy!” my mother used to add whenever I’d crumple up my face and slink off to do whatever she’d asked that interrupted my reading or daydreaming—wash the dishes, polish the wooden coffee table. Whatever the task, ‘do it with joy’ meant don’t pout, look angry, or be upset about it.

It wasn’t a request. It was a demand. And it became a running demand. Later, when she shared it with my grandmother, it became a running joke.

I never thought much of it, until a few weeks ago, when I was talking to Megan, the naturopath.

I’d divulged that I am tired of my job, and I have a nagging suspicion it is time to go. But as of now, I don’t know where to go, so I just do my job.

“Sounds like you may be having issues with your third and fifth chakras,” she suggested.

The fifth chakra is associated with your throat: communication, speaking, etc. I immediately shot that down. “I’ve been speaking my truth. I write. I blog. I’m an author. I freelance,” I told her, while the phlegm that accompanies my cough began building up in my throat.

“Hmmm,” she said. “What about the third? Were you raised in a house where you were made to do things you didn’t want to?” she asked.

“I was,” I said. And then I told her about the ‘do it with joy’ story.

“Sounds a lot like going to a job you don’t like but smiling about it anyway.”

She sent me away with a lot of information, and some of it included affirmations for strengthening my third chakra, which is focused on the stomach area, and subsequently, self-esteem, personal power, and courage.


I’ve reflected on this for a month or so. What does it mean? Is her assessment valid? Is this something I should consider? I decided what Megan said is very useful, and here’s how.

When I graduated with a PhD in 2010, all family and friends saw was KG with a doctorate. However, during that time, I still suffered with the low self-worth and self-esteem that had affected my marriage. Now, it just shifted over to how I looked for jobs, and subsequently, how I dealt with academic rejection.

I received my first position a month before the semester started. Typically, candidates are vetted and offered jobs way before that. The applicant needs time to move, and the institution needs time to prepare for their arrival. I knew this because the process was explained in the first five campus interviews I’d had. By the time I was hired, my (career) self-esteem was waning.

Two years later, I attained my second job in academia, again, a month before the semester started, but the issue was it wasn’t tenure track; I consciously took a job I was overqualified for. At this point, my (career) self-esteem tanked. Why can’t I secure the job for which I’m qualified? Why won’t they pick me?

Three years later, a colleague DMd me and asked if I wanted a job. It was at a community college, which I already had a judgment about, but I said yes for varied reasons. However, accepting this job reinforced what I’d already been thinking: I’m not good enough for these high-level positions. I have no personal power in this area. When it comes to attaining academic jobs, I’m not in charge of shit! So, why even try? Before I developed a gratitude practice or learned to look at a situation from a different perspective, I simply gave up ya’ll!

But I also never resolved these beliefs about jobs in academia, which were tied to my self-esteem and third chakra. Today, I am still sitting in a job I’m overqualified for, as if I have no power to change my circumstances.


So, what happens to emotional energy if you don’t deal with or talk about the situation? People like Louise Hay, believe it stays with you and becomes stuck in the body, eventually creating disease associated with that energy center. Last year, my good, blogging friend, Dr. Dinardo also showed me how anxiety shows up and can stay in your body.

And I agree.

For me, emotions have always developed in my stomach area: excitement and nervousness feel like trapped butterflies; sadness feels like a rollercoaster ride, right before you take that big dive into the unknown; anger feels as if someone has gathered all my internal organs, tied them in a knot, attached them to an anchor, and left them in my belly as a tangled mess to sort out. These are probably common for others, but for me, they’re also constant.

Over the years, I’ve begun jogging before I speak at conferences or practicing yoga before doing something that may be triggering. Exercising helps move energy. Exercising helps me to become unstuck.

The problem occurs when exercise is not an option, which is more frequent, like when I talk to my grandmother.

The other day we had a conversation, where she couldn’t figure out why she was crying. For some reason, she couldn’t connect it to the fact that her last living sister has been diagnosed with dementia and is now in an uncontrollable situation.

“I never cry,” she said with pride. “I never understood why people cry, like at funerals and stuff.”

“Maybe because they’re sad,” I suggested.

“Because they’re sad?” she questioned. “Sad?” she repeated. “Well, you know what they say about that?” she asked me.

“What?”

“You’re sad? You better scratch your butt and be glad!” and then she laughed.

Not only was this phrase not funny to me, but it also sounded like ‘do it with joy’ remixed. Suddenly, my belly started flopping and sinking, and freezing at once. Normally, I wouldn’t say anything (insert lack of personal power with Grannie here). But I’ve been forcing myself to speak up, no matter what, even if it’s uncomfortable.

“Well, that’s not very nice, Grannie,” is all I could muster.

“Huh? It’s not nice?”

“No. That’s not a very nice saying.”

We eventually ended the conversation. My belly wasn’t flopping, and I felt good about expressing my opinion (which is associated with the throat chakra).


Of course, I’ll continue to take my probiotic and finish my elimination diet to re-set my gut; however, I think there is something to acknowledging how we hold energy in our bodies, which is oftentimes associated with a specific chakra. This is the first time I’ve publicly acknowledged how my self-esteem was tied to my inability to find a job aligned with my qualifications. That’s a start. I’ll continue with re-building my (career) self-esteem in small ways and also with using my voice with specific people, even when it’s wobbly or when my belly plummets. While I’m powerful behind this keyboard, it’s also important to me to have a well-rounded sense of personal power in all areas.

Looking forward to hearing what you think.


My #9 Year

Did you realize this is a number 9 year? (2+0+1+6 = 9) A number nine year typically symbolizes a period of letting go. Whether it’s releasing people, habits or situations, and whether you like it or not, this is a time when the urge is strong to free yourself.

My letting go began last July when my dad died. I had let go of him in some ways, but you know, death requires you to fully let go of someone’s physical being, thus stepping into a complete release.

Done.

Then, I started a new job in August. Being a community college professor is not what I thought I’d be doing with my PhD. Taking this job meant I accepted a path filled with 20 thousand fewer dollars and students who possess a different mind set. There were a lot of tears because letting go is not always easy. However, the next ten months revealed the benefits of this next step. I could’ve never jumped fully into writing, blogging or authoring had I continued to be a professor at a research institution.

Done.

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In March, the unfathomable happened. I had to let go of my dear Rascal. I won’t rehash how difficult it was to put that relationship to rest. I almost settled in a funk about it, until I saw a woodpecker. I choose to believe that bird, with its bright red feathers and focused pecking was behind me on purpose. He urged me not to get caught up in a cycle of sadness. The following week, a hawk flew on top of my building, looked right down into my eyes and reinforced the message. Rascal has moved on. You have to too. Focus on what you’re supposed to be doing.

Done.

Shortly after, I decided to let go of six boxes of books. They had cluttered our dining room for almost a year. It was time for me to give them away. I posted to FB about the release and three colleagues gasped and asked me to send them their way. So I did. I also bought two small bookcases for the ones I deemed important. Whether you subscribe to numerology or not, there’s something about clearing space that allows for more creativity and higher vibration. Those books symbolized twelve years of (outdated) university learning. It was time to let it go.

Done.

img_0864Then, I decided this was the year that I needed to cut my hair. I went natural in 2010. And I hadn’t cut it since. When I washed my hair, it stretched near my butt! That’s too much hair. It weighed me down. I was tired of doing twist-outs twice a week. It was time to let it go. My daughters begged me not to cut it. They disapproved of any style I showed them. The thing about liberation is once you feel it’s necessary, you have to follow your gut and ignore naysayers, even if they are family. So, I scheduled an appointment and cut my hair. Whew! I felt free.

Done.

I thought I was done letting people and situations go, but there was more. For the past three years, I’ve grown on purpose. I’ve become a more conscious version of myself. Some of it I’ve written about here: less judgment, more mindfulness. Some friends have rolled with me during this transition. And some have resisted the new me. While I haven’t released any friendships, per se, I have let go of certain aspects of the friendships that previously existed. Meaning, we can remain friends, but maybe our conversations are limited. Trust me. It’s challenging. But it’s okay.

Done.

Have you released anyone or anything this year? If so, then tell me about it. Do you believe in numerology? Let’s talk about that too.