I thought I’d kick off 2019 by sharing some of my favourite things, Oprah style, from this past year that has helped me, enhanced my life, educated me, or fascinated me. Here we go!
Through my health struggles and reaching out to various practitioners, doctors, naturopathic doctors, therapists, nutritionists, I developed an eating disorder. Actually, what really happened was years of disordered eating habits mutated into an eating disorder. I didn’t realize I had so many disordered eating habits, as that behavior is so normalized in our culture, and I was never considered “underweight” by BMI standards – even at my thinnest when my friends told me I was getting too thin.
It wasn’t until my body rebelled, and refused to get smaller no matter what behavior I engaged in, and then my surgeon told me to lose weight before my hysterectomy even though I’d been trying for years to reduce. I was afraid I wouldn’t be allowed to have the surgery if I didn’t manage to lose weight – but it also didn’t make intuitive sense. Before spiraling down too far on the road marked “bulimia”, I reached out to my friends, my survival instinct of “I just can’t live like this,” kicked in, and I talked to the surgical nurse to confirm they wouldn’t actually withhold the surgery if I didn’t succeed in losing any weight. The nurse surprisingly said that most people actually didn’t lose weight before the surgery, which makes me wonder why on earth this surgeon, awesome and skilled as she was, recommended weight loss before surgery at all.
Fortunately, I found Food Psych. This podcast, more than any other podcast about diet culture, intuitive eating, health at every size, and gentle nutrition, helped to confirm for myself that a lot of the messaging I’d internalized from all these professionals in my life was actually just wrong, and that the medical world which I also work in, is incredibly biased when it comes to weight.
I mean, I’d gotten to the point where the list of foods I couldn’t / shouldn’t eat due to my attempts to curb my pelvic pain and weight gain was so long that I would often feel anxiety or panic about what I could eat at all. It was not a healthy place to be in, which is ironic because I was putting so much time and energy into trying to be HEALTHY!
I highly recommend the Food Psych podcast to everyone, because diet culture affects us and oppresses us all, and until we are educated, we actually perpetuate this oppression on ourselves and each other! Let’s just STOP! And get happier J
Okay, That’s quite a lot on Food Psych. I wonder how long this post is going to get!
For decades, I have avoided massage therapy. Frankly, I don’t like being touched that much, and I feel like to pick up the therapist’s thoughts once in a while. I can’t know for sure if that’s what’s happened, but even if what pops into my head during a massage is NOT telepathic sponging, it IS, at the very least, a sign of how uncomfortable I am.
Well, this year I decided to figure out how to get over my massage hangups, because I frankly really needed the help. My recovery from surgery this past year has not been the upward gently inclined plane I had visualized it would be (not complaining, I just expected I’d be hiking regularly by now and feeling great about it, instead I still get exhausted by a 1 hour walk.) I have done *so much physiotherapy* and found it to be frustrating, because I really couldn’t progress past 20 – 30 reps for exercises that were supposed to help my knees, lower back, and endurance.
About 6 months ago, my neck started to seize up. Nothing I could do would fix it, and the discomfort was constant, and prevented me from sleeping well or enjoying my days. I decided to go see a local massage therapist to see if it would help, and it DID, though it hurt like hell at times, and I felt like the therapist was having thoughts about my body. For a while I thought I was just being self-conscious. At one point when I commented that my calves were one of my favorite body parts, she replied, “Yes, they’re very lean,” and I felt like she thought I liked my calves because they had no fat on them. This may not be what she meant at all, but really, what could she have meant? She couldn’t have meant “strong”, which is what I meant, because “strong” and “lean” are very different things.
She was a super-skilled massage therapist and I absolutely would recommend her to friends, but there was something about her that fed my inner eating disorder monster – and that may have had nothing to do with her. Regardless, I decided to switch to a different massage therapist for a different issue.
After my neck issue was resolved, it still didn’t resolve that my physio exercises just weren’t improving my ability to go on long hikes, and I was (AM) getting frustrated. It’s been a YEAR since my surgery after all, shouldn’t I be all better by now?
Well I happened upon some physiotherapists on youtube, (stay tuned for my next favorite thing) and saw a simple exercise for the gluteus medius that immediately tickled my brain as the RIGHT THING! In attempting to do this exercise over the next two weeks, I realized that my gluteus medius was just not functioning like it should, and that my legs in general were actually extremely stiff and sore all the time.
It’s funny how “stiff and sore” doesn’t register as pain at all, and therefore my brain didn’t really bring it to my attention. It wasn’t until I started focusing on this area of my body for several days in a row that I realized something was wrong.
If I can’t even do these physio exercises, and I can feel the muscle engage but then crap out after a few minutes, I realized that my low back and butt is probably in the same shape as my neck was… so I decided to try a different massage therapist.
Different therapists have different communication styles, and even different ways of working the body, so I thought I’d try a different therapist at the same practice, just to see if I liked her better.
SHE. WAS. AWESOME! Such a great listener – meaning, she listened with empathy, and I think she must have some background in energy work as well, because the session felt like massage therapy, but also like a light reiki treatment too. Today my ass feels AMAZING and I actually feel like I want to go on a 2 hour hike and my body will handle it! I can’t believe how much energy it freed up in my body!
Massage therapists are expensive for people to see on a regular basis if you don’t have benefits that cover the service, as I do. However, I have found that massage therapists, particularly young ones looking for experience and new clients, can be more flexible on their prices or even willing to work for trade. Back when Sweetie and I were entirely self-employed through our coffee roastery, I traded coffee for massage, as I was able to write off the coffee and it cost far less than the hourly rate of the session – and the therapist was happy with that.
If massage, or talk therapy, is something you really need for your health and you can’t afford the list price, there’s no harm in reaching out with a *very polite* non-entitled email explaining your situation and asking if they had any flexibility in their pricing or if they’d be willing to do a trade for whatever product or service you can bring to the table, be it child care, property maintenance, cleaning, etc. You may be surprised.
I’m very optimistic about my butt right now, I think I may have hit on the thing that will get me hiking again! And you know what that means – I can get another dog!
I have mentioned before how pelvic floor physiotherapy helped me quite a bit, but it’s been a frustrating year for physio as mentioned above. This does not sound like physio is one of my favorite things, does it? But it IS because I know once you hit on the RIGHT physio exercise, my function and my LIFE improves dramatically!
Just like massage therapists, if you’re not making progress or something feels off with a physiotherapist, don’t give up, try a different practitioner, and do your own research too. Try youtube videos! Talk to your friends! Just keep trying, because that’s the only way you’ll find what you need.
“Healing from Hidden Abuse” by Shannon Thomas LSCW
This book was SO HELPFUL to me, and I think a number of my blog friends will find it helpful too. I have often felt like I must be “creating something out of nothing” when it came to many formative life experiences and social dynamics in my life. Sorry to be vague, but the abuse continues if I get too specific.
This book helped me to understand what psychological abuse is, it helped me to understand how I was also an abuser as a child, cast as a “flying monkey” before I really had my own understanding of the situation. It is helping me to understand the cycle of abuse, which is something that drives our whole world, and it’s helped me to pick apart difficult dynamics I’ve encountered in my professional career as well.
What really enthused me was the information on how psychological abuse and spiritual abuse can team up.
This is something I’ve seen in spiritual communities near and dear to my heart!
I’ve seen people vilified if they “go against” someone in the group who holds more power or status than they do. This is a real danger when you have one person, or a few people, who represent a group. We see this in cults, we see it in entrepreneurial groups, and heartrendingly, we see this in spiritual groups with leaders choosing to single out someone publicly, gaslight them privately, or recruit “flying monkeys” to abuse this individual by proxy.
If you’ve ever been bullied, if you’ve felt singled out or ostracized, if you’ve felt hurt but wondered if you were just “too sensitive”, this book may give you some surprising and liberating insights!
I recommend it to just about anyone who’s interest in piqued, because abuse dynamics are everywhere in our culture. They’re in our families, our workplaces, and in our entertainment. We are so indoctrinated to accept this treatment that we may even unintentionally perpetuate it on to others – maybe even to those closest to us.
It is a surprisingly good read, and I’ve read a LOT of books like this in the past three years, since I went into treatment for PTSD in 2016. Many of these books were helpful, but Healing from Hidden Abuse was so validating, and understanding my experiences through this lens has been freeing and uplifting. Shannon’s examples and descriptions were easily relate-able and I could see my own life experiences in her words. I actually listened to the audio version on audible.com
Okay, yes, I am wearing my self-promoting fascinator just for a moment, but I am also being sincere when I say how grateful I am to have started the podcast, and to have received so much support from my listeners. It has facilitated many important discussions, talks I *never would have had* without the podcast! Joyful Telepathy has brought me friends, helped me to teach, and has taught me the skills to launch my audio class, Telepathic Communication with Animals and Spirit.
My favourite discussions of 2018 were:
Talking to Animals 101 with Jessica
The Freddie Mercury Afterlife Interview
AND OF COURSE, the Fabulous conversation with psychic medium / holds her doctorate in clinical psychology, the wise and wonderful Dr. Lana! The episodes are here: Part 1 and Part 2.
And that, my friends, is my Top 5 Favorite things in 2018! Have a wonderful day!
Cover art for massage therapy graduation. Watercolor. Artist: Brynja Magnusson