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: 2021 Year in Review

Sometimes, I feel as if I haven’t done anything. It might sound irrational, but it’s true. I stood in the middle of my room a few weeks ago and wondered what I’d really accomplished this year. It sounds like this: What have you done? Can’t you do more? So what you published a book? This happens frequently. I know where these “not good enough” thoughts come from, but I won’t be sharing root causes today. I mean…if you’ve been reading this blog long enough, then more than likely you can fill in the blanks.

Instead, I compiled a list. Initially, the point of the list was for me to see how ridiculous my “not good enough” thoughts were. It was supposed to be like a tangible pep talk for myself. But then I figured you may want to read one of these essays, too. So, here goes:

Stories of Sport: Critical Literacy in Media Production, Consumption, and Dissemination

The year began with a publication with my colleagues. Aside from being proud of myself for leading this project, it shows the both/and space in which I’ve begun to live. I can be both a scholar and a personal blogger. I don’t have to choose.

There’s Strength in Softness

Life continued with one of my proudest essays. I’d been thinking about generational patterns, how we oftentimes unknowingly pass on ways of living that don’t suit our children. What are the effects of passing down generational patterns? How does it affect the child as an adult, who then becomes a parent? This was the purpose of There’s Strength in Softness.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: I’m Speaking Now: Black Women Share Their Truth in 101 Stories of Love, Courage and Hope

Shortly after, my essay Good Enough (that’s ironic, huh?) was published in the well-known Chicken Soup for the Soul (CSS) series. To be honest, I didn’t think anything about it at first, mainly because publishing my feelings about being an Affirmative Action hire in a special edition of Black women writers actually showed what I was saying (another irony). But then, a blogger friend, Shira D. tweeted “Thank you for speaking for us all.” And boy, did that shift my thinking. I really hadn’t even thought about it that way. The CSS franchise has only had a special edition of Black women writers once before, twenty-five years or so ago. Being selected as one of 101 writers is a big deal.

Pro-Choice: What Being It Actually Means

If you’ve been following me for a while, then you probably remember reading a piece I wrote a couple years ago called What it Actually Means to be Pro-Choice. It was first published by PULPMag, which not only advocates for reproductive rights, but also freedom of sexuality, in general. I was excited when my blogger friend, da-AL wanted to re-publish it this year, especially given the current conversation and actions on abortion rights.

5 Reasons Critical Media Literacy is Important in the 21st Century

I mentioned Shira D. earlier. I promised her some time ago to guest blog on Educating for Future Democracy Collaborative. Because the site is focused on democracy, and because democracy in the United States seems to be quickly waning, I thought it would be appropriate to write about the role critical media literacy can play in the twenty-first century.

2021 (the year of the ox) is my Chinese New Year!

What is Happiness?

Do you follow the hot goddess? If not, why? How can you not follow someone who is a self-proclaimed HOT goddess? Anywho, she asked me to answer one question: What is happiness? My and others’ answers can be found on her blog.

Oh, and I started another blog focused on all things menopause (and midlife). Aside from myself, several contributing authors have shared their own journeys with this global community. If I haven’t said it before, thank you to those of you who’ve written for the site in its inaugural year, and thanks to those of you who have liked, subscribed, followed, or shared something from it.

Spotlight on Menopause Advocate: K. E. Garland

Keisha over at The Real Perimeno deemed me a menopause advocate! That was surprising. But I’m here for the new title. My interview with her about Navigating the Change can be found on her site. Also, she and I will be bringing an essay contest to fruition very soon.

Lori L. Tharps invited me to be a guest on her new podcast, My Bloody Hell. After listening to a few episodes and googling who Lori is, I was more than excited. My episode aired on November 3, 2021. I can promise you a whole lot of laughing and girlfriend-type conversation about perimenopause.

Top 10 Ways Perimenopause Helped Me Get My Sh*t Together

Quite honestly, I think this was the best way to end my writing year. I went from not knowing wtf was going on with my perimenopausal body, to being able to tell you what hormone is currently affecting me and how to alleviate the shift. Tera’s invite to write a top 10 list about midlife couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.

Julia Cameron said, “the antidote for shame is self-love and self-praise,” and I agree. I used to be really good at praising myself whenever I accomplished a task. Somewhere along life’s journey, I stopped. But I’m reclaiming that practice. When you do good work, you should be proud of yourself. I should be proud of myself. In 2022, I plan to be more intentional about celebrating myself when the process is complete. I know there’s a fine line between hubris, confidence, dismissiveness, and humility. But this year, I’ll be pushing those boundaries to find my own sweet spot. Strengthening my self worth has become a priority for living a full life.

What are you working on for 2022? What are you proud of from 2021?


*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.