* Trigger Warning*
Skin rash and mention of mental health challenges.
First Part Written in Mid-January, 2023.
My usual message is one I intentionally strive to be a positive one. I try to share uplifting and happy messages.
However, there comes a time in life when not everything is peachy. We struggle and feel lost. Grief, confusion, pain, anger, anxiety, and sadness swallow us. Until recently, I had been feeling all of these emotions and more. Burnout and stress were pervasive shadows. Parts of my job had become misaligned with my life and I was itching to explore different paths. I had been feeling creatively suppressed and too drained to be present. No matter how hard I tried to cope (trying to do all of the self care activities on my list and more), my body was speaking very clearly to me.
Our bodies are home to our minds, emotions, and consciousness: Intelligence networks we understand a fraction of, but that influence our every thought, emotion, and action. Our bodies also speak to us in a myriad of ways. Our culture holds our body’s language clues with familiar idioms such as:
a lump in our throats
a broken heart
butterflies in our tummies
the weight of the world on our shoulders
trusting our gut…
There are times our body gently taps on the door to ask us to listen to what it has to say. If we don’t hear the tapping or choose to ignore it, it can become a loud knock and eventually a pounding.
I admit: my body had been pounding on the door for a while with heart palpitations, anxiety, depression, fatigue, nightmares, and more. Normalizing the walls shaking and the loud banging as the background soundtrack to my life, I had convinced myself all I needed was a workout, a bubble bath, or to catch up on sleep.
But as the expression goes, “what the body doesn’t express in tears, it makes other organs weep.”
And my body started to sob.
When I became sick with Covid around Thanksgiving, it was easy to blame seasonal immune weakening and crowded airports. Then, big red spots broke out out on my leg and chest. “Okay,” I told myself, “this is just seasonal eczema due to the dry winter air. No biggie.” But the spot on my leg grew larger. Scaly. Peeling. A couple more spots appeared on my arm. “Wow, the air must be really dry.” Covid came and went, so back to work I go.
Then a few more spots broke out on my chest, neck, and arms. Growing. Spreading. Creating constellations of pink, itchy, painful spots. Lotion, oil, medicine, repeat.
Then another week of work began. Spots on my stomach, back, legs. Neck and face. “Okay these must be hives. I must’ve eaten something bad.” Then the holidays.
Spots peeling, blistering, itchy, unbearable. Not hives. Psoriasis rosea: a virus induced, stress perpetuated rash. With built up stress erupting within me, Covid lit the fuse.
At this point, I’ve been crying daily for a few weeks now. Not out of pain, but just feeling absolutely exhausted. Sensitive. Reactive. Irritable. The shortest fuse. The red spots had become a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from. But it was finally these spots that I couldn’t ignore. If the stress I had been feeling was pounding on the door, these spots were a banging on a window. I finally accepted that I wasn’t okay. This isn’t just a “bubble baths and meditation” kind of thing. My body is screaming at me. I’m totally shut down. Isolating myself, nightmares, no energy. I am covered in spots from head to toe.
Time to trust in the process. I’m scared shitless. However, my intuition tingles with a knowing that even if my path isn’t crystal clear, things are going to be okay. I will be okay.
However, things need to change. Like really change.
While discussing with my family and my amazing partner, I soak up their advice, love, and support. I listen to myself. I listen to the tears manifesting as red spots all over my body. Lastly, I partake in a psilocybin ceremony to gain closure and clarity. Then, I make a decision. One of the hardest yet easiest decisions.
I decide to prioritize myself over productivity. I choose to live my life from a mindset of abundance instead of survival. I allow myself to be vulnerable, loved, and cared for. No longer a prisoner to the anxiety, pressure, and stress, I choose to trust myself and value what I truly want.
Monday, January 2nd, I resign. But I also leveled up.
My menstrual cycle begins immediately. I spend the next three days on the toilet frequently. My body is letting go. I’m exhausted. But barely any spots in sight. My skin is healing. Emotionally, I’m still a bit anxious when I play the “what if” game; I try to catch myself and remember that this challenging time was not for nothing. It’s time to slow down.
Taking each day at a time, I let myself breathe. Explore. Reconnect. Laugh. Cry.
I let myself be scared but also excited. Curious and hopeful.
I don’t know what yet, but something good is coming.
Both with creation and surrender, the table of life is set; I’m ready to dine.
No spots invited.
I don't know if it's my moldavite or what, but life has been full of so many changes. Ups and downs. Overall, I am growing. Stretching. Finally finding my peace.
In March I decided I couldn't be part-time at my former company, but needed to fully begin a new chapter. Grief round 2. Yet life has also been full of many other events since then. Family drama and celebrations. My relationship with my partner enhancing and moving into new levels. Softly launching into my business and also scaling back immensely. I'm still recovering and processing final steps. It's an open road ahead of me.
Yet even good change can be hard. I'm still gaining weight back after being unwell (I lost close to 25-30 lbs.). I'm expanding my community, learning new things, cooking delicious meals, writing more, producing my podcast, conducting online services, spending more time with the people I love, doing the things I love!
And it's still hard. It's still an adjustment. There's still grief and there's still things that are present that are challenging. What's the difference though? I have capacity for the stress now. I have freedom to do what I need for myself. I'm finding out who I am in a new way through learning what I truly want to do. No longer was work my everything: my Higher Power, my community, my punishment, my addiction, my family, my safe space. I'm learning my limits, my passions, my ways of connecting, my ways of decompressing, and also I'm learning healthy separation from my idenetity. No longer is my worth tied up in my work. That was making me vulnerable. Now, I'm strong in and able to feel safe in myself.
Now, I'm able to be safe in the moment. Not chasing the carrot at the end of the stick, hoping it'll get better someday, but actually safe and satisfied with: what I have right now, what I'm doing, and who I'm doing it with.
Just a few days ago, I cried over a teeny flower in the park. It was a moment of pure mindfulness and curiosity that I haven't felt in so long. A feeling that felt like it belonged in childhood. A moment when so much wonder was held in the simplicity of a little flower growing in the park. Such sweet joys, nature provides. For free!!
Reflecting now, I think it was simplicity itself that moved me. When life is so busy and full of big events, the true-blue savoring of a moment slows it all down. Even a small, tiny joy possesses it's own universe; I too, saw how I possessed my own universe. The smallness of this flower made my problems also seem small, similar to how I am one person to over 8 billion. Me and this tiny flower are both parts of the collective.
In this moment of mindfulness and belonging, I felt like a kid again. I felt like myself again.
I was experiencing transformation. It was surreal and exhilarating. A moment so moving that I cried each time I spoke of it. It brings me relief, peace, and hope. I wrote a poem about the flowers- my muses. These flowers truly inspired me to feel something I thought I had lost for good. Through seeing meaning and lessons right in front of me, this connection to nature, while being 100%, sober was my high.
Below is the flower I saw. And below is that poem.
And to anyone still thinking whether they should take a chance on themselves and their happiness: do it. Do it. Trust, let go of expectations, have fun, and do it.
From my heart,
Tiny flowers make me giggle
I love their tiny little faces
Smiling back at me
I love their bright sweet colors
Their reds and blues and greens
Their sweet little smiles
The cutest that I’ve seen
I love these tiny flowers
My little teeny friends
They make me smile
My heart they softly mend
I hope you find yourself
Some teeny flower pals
let them cheer you up
With their cute tiny smiles
Cause even though they’re little
My goodness, they are sweet
They kiss the bottom of my toes
Gently tickling my feet
They have such great power
Even though they’re super small
The power to remember, I too, am small
As well as my problems all
They call this thing the present
This thing that they call "living"
Our gift is in love and light
Our gift is in the giving
Simple joys abundantly grow
Open your eyes to not miss
Take care of our sweet petal pals
Give your flower friends a kiss
Though these tiny flower friends
Are very unexpected
We all exist together
Here they are smiling
Up at you and me
To remind us that we’re infinite
And in this, we are free