Do You Choose to Be Happy?

 

choose-to-be-HappySo November has come to a close. I find this month brings both gratitude and the harvest season to mind. And believe it or not, both of these have to do with the art of healing.

According to Dr. John Demartini, your health and well being tomorrow are a result of what you do, think and believe today. He uses the golden rule to remind us that we reap what we sow. In other words, you get out exactly what you put in. Therefore, your thoughts and actions are the seeds you plant and the harvest that you grow will reflect that. So when you respect and care for your body; your body produces energy and health in return.

Dr. Demartini also says, “That being grateful is the essence of healing.” In my bodywork practice, I find this to be one of the hardest things for people to overcome with illness, pain or injury. Somehow our sense of frustration, anger, fear, and/or resentment of our current state of health often overrides our more positive perceptions. It’s hard to hold strongly to the belief that you will heal, no matter what. In my experience, those that believe they will heal do and those that harbor thoughts that something is truly wrong beyond their control seem to linger in this place.

If you feel stuck; I recommend that you check in with yourself to see if you are holding on to any of these emotions or if you blame someone else for what you are going through. It is perfectly normal to have these feelings; the goal here is to balance them out with positive thoughts. I find it helpful to write a gratitude list. When you feel challenged by how you feel about your progress with a current injury or health issue, you can pull from your list to change your outlook. Like the affirmation above, you truly can choose to be happy, as well as healthy.

“One of the most immediate ways to change your health is to change your thoughts and words.” ~ John F. Demartini, author of ‘Count Your Blessings’

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So You Have an Injury, Who Do You Call?

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Choose your injury care team wisely

If you have an injury or a pain that isn’t going away, one of your most important decisions is choosing your ‘healthcare’ team. It is actually critical in your healing to pick people you trust and feel comfortable with. So before you choose, think carefully about what that means to you. Is it their treatment approach? Your out of pocket expense? Do you have something in common? Is it a recommendation from a trusted source?

Making that call

People don’t call me because they feel good, so I always do a phone interview. First, I want to make sure that bodywork is appropriate at this stage of your healing. Sometimes I feel you could be better served by a good medical work up first. But ultimately, I want you to be heard. It’s good to have a safe outlet to tell your story and share the natural feelings of frustration, fear, and anxiety that accompany an injury.

Remember that an injury is a very challenging experience!

Sports psychologists tell us that hurting from an injury may not be purely physical; it can leave you mentally depleted. One of my clients’ biggest concerns is when will they be well again. Unfortunately, I know no one out there who has a crystal ball to foretell your particular journey of recovery.

Specializing in harmony for your body

I feel strongly that I am part of my clients’ healthcare team. My main goal is to improve their quality of life. I want to help take the swelling out of their tissues, the pain out of their scars, and put balance back into their bodies, so they can do whatever means the most to them without pain. Finish an ironman, do a handstand, whatever they wish, it’s their life!

What can you expect from a session with me?

Each person and their injuries are unique, so in my practice everyone gets a session designed to meet their specific needs. What could that look like for you? Say you have knee pain, I will first look to pinpoint where the problem is coming from. I often find that knee pain can come from the hip or the foot, so it wouldn’t make sense to focus solely on your knee unless the symptoms were from there. Next I pull from over my 20+ years experience in manual therapy, and offer my best solution.

You are a part of the team, too!

I think being a well informed team member is one of the biggest assets of your own healing. I have seen it help fuel a positive approach to healing vs. an unknowing self-sabotage. Your recovery is really all about your choices. Is that knee really ready to run a marathon when it still hurts to run a 5K? So gather a good team and stay focused on your recovery plan. If you veer off, your team will get you back on track.

“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.” – Old Chinese proverb

What You Say Matters

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freefoto.com Camellia: symbol of gratitude

 

Just the other day, an old friend gave me a very insightful compliment. It turned out to be more valuable than I could have anticipated, as with one single phone call, my carefree Saturday went from playful and free to concerned and helpless. I found myself drawing from his earlier words, as they helped me to remember that ultimately I am patient and I am strong.

Being miles away from the situation, there was nothing I could personally do to assist except to be present when the phone rang again. As hard as it is for me to feel helpless, I know that if I was a witness to pain or anguish in someone that I love, I would want someone to talk to. So I pulled strength from my friend’s earlier comment, and just sat patiently with the fact that things were out of my hands. What I could control was being there when I was needed. I could push my own fears aside and be completely present for someone else.

So in gratitude for my friend’s kind words, I want to remind us all that our words matter. I think it is important to use them wisely and with care, as they can be more powerful than you know. So if you’re thinking about giving someone a compliment, like Nike says “Just Do It!” I found truth in the saying that a sincere compliment boosts one’s morale. You never know, what you say may change someone elses’ day too!

“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” ~Mark Twain

‘Did You Ever Wonder Why No One Ever Tries Softer?’ ~ Lily Tomlin

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Colin Firth/Geoffrey Rush- photo by Weinstein Company

 

I’m always behind the curve when it comes to seeing the latest movie, so yes I did miss The King’s Speech while it was in the theater. Due to the wonderful buzz among everyone I know who saw it, I was quick to watch it on DVD. And it did not disappoint. You may be wondering why this is relevant to my bodywork practice, or then again you may be right there with me. The story line ran such a strong parallel with my own belief system that besides being glued to the amazing cinematography, I felt like I was watching my own professional story unfold.

In case you haven’t seen the film yet, here is a quick glance without giving all the good parts away. This British historical drama is about the Duke of York soon to be King George the VI. To help the Duke overcome his stammer his wife seeks out Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist, known for his unique yet effective methodology. Logue believes there are emotional triggers that underlie the onset of most speech impediments. Initially the Duke will not discuss personal matters and only wants to work on the mechanical problem at hand. Logue agrees, and they work together on muscle relaxation and breathe control, but Logue continues to probe into the psychological roots of his stammer. The King eventually tells about the difficulties of his childhood at the time his stammer appeared: his strict father; repression of his left-handedness; painful knee splints; a nanny who mistreated him and “It took my parents three years to notice.”

I absolutely love the structural part of the human body and continue to find relevance in the study of anatomy, and other coursework to help me make sense of this amazing system. But I know that behind every pain and injury there is an emotional story as well. So when clients’ report pain or numbness somewhere, and they can remember the exact moment it came on, I find myself drawn as much to what was happening in their life that day, as the idea that the pain resulted from ‘I was just putting on my shoes.’ Besides the actual mechanical pain process, I like to look at what they may be holding on to….An inability to forgive someone, bitterness about how the pain has changed their life, anger about something someone said or did. The list can go on but I, like Logue, have come to believe that wellness comes from healing both the mechanical and the emotional. We may find that on some days trying softer may get us further ahead than trying harder.

A Double-Edged Sword

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Double Edged Sword by musogato

 

One of the more delicate parts of my job is discussing radiological findings with my clients. These tests have become the gold standard to rule out serious medical conditions. They are also used to figure out why someone has pain. This can bring great comfort to people as they now have a clear cause, and yet great distress to others because their tests are normal and they still hurt.

So in truth, how much weight should a scan hold in the overall picture of your pain? Here is the case that really challenged my own outlook. On his first visit, this client came into my office with his written MRI report in hand. Luckily the medical terminology wasn’t written in layman’s terms, so he wasn’t able to judge the severity. He was comfortable with his doctors’ assurance that it was arthritis, and at 60 years of age he personally felt like that was to be expected. At that time, I had fifteen years experience under my belt and was pretty sure I had never read a scan so daunting. It could have taken the prize for ‘the worst stiff neck imaginable’, if awards for this were actually given out. I remember thinking can a neck like this ever move normally again.

What began with so many doubts, turned into an incredible journey. It broke down barriers in my belief system that needed to be challenged. I had a big aha moment when I came to realize that an image is one thing and the body’s own ability to heal is quite another. Had I relied solely on what the scan said, with major arthritic changes at each and every level of his neck, I would have feared moving forward. The beauty was that his body was ready for relief from a year of headaches and an inability to look over either shoulder. It became clear very quickly, that his neck just needed a little guidance.

If I was a betting woman, I would have lost, as I didn’t hold faith in his full recovery. Thankfully he proved me wrong and this one man’s success has completely changed my outlook. I no longer judge a client by their imaging; instead it is just one small piece of the amazing puzzle called the human body. With this said, I recommend that you don’t judge yourself by your scans, and see if a brighter outlook doesn’t appear.

Is Your Story Keeping you from Your Best Health?

purple_flowers-150x150Is your ‘story’ keeping you from your best health?

Recently I received a call from a potential client who didn’t even offer me his name. He opened the conversation with who had referred him to me, and that he preferred to get in ASAP because of his pain. Since it seemed very important to him, I proceeded by inquiring about the nature of his pain. His response was that he has persistent pain in his shoulders, which he feels comes from a guarding pattern he can’t seem to change following a cervical spine fusion surgery.

Since his issue seemed really straight forward and I didn’t have space to fit him in that day, I recommended some other bodywork practices that may have immediate availability. But now the real story came out. “Would they know what to do with a fusion?” he asked. I find I am taken a little aback, as rarely do I get a referral for someone still on restrictions without getting a phone call from their practitioner or doctor. To clarify my questions, he stated that his surgery was over a year ago and he has been given the all clear by his surgeon to resume all his normal activities.

Here is the catch, and ultimately what may be creating an underlying holding pattern in the muscles of his shoulders. On his last visit, the doctor explained that on one view of his x-rays the bone looked as if it hadn’t completely filled in, but even with this information he was released from all his previous restrictions. So despite the wonderful hall pass he received, he leaves the doctors office in conflict. As he has heard that he is not whole, in fact still quite broken and fragile, with the fusion not being completely perfect. He also heard the words he is free to get back to his life as before. But now, he just may write his story that he is getting back to his life, but despite giving a year of his life to surgery, rehab and recovery, he still isn’t well.

He needs to believe that it is okay to not have a perfect x-ray at the one-year mark, and that the doctor feels very good with the outcome of his surgery even with these findings. And most importantly, it is okay to move on with your healing by editing this part of your story to mean that imperfect doesn’t mean broken. I hope he realizes this sooner rather than later, and gets back to being himself, and not his injury. I will know this is true if he calls again, and begins by giving me his name.

“Not everything that can be counted counts, And not everything that counts can be counted.” ~ Einstein