Learning to Trust Your Body After Illness

body love Most of us go throughout our 20's feeling invisible, like nothing could or would happen to us. We rarely stop and think about our mortality or ask questions like," what if something were to  happen to me?" "What if I got sick?"

And honestly, we shouldn't. We should live in a constant state of being present, however, when something does happen, it can rock our world.

Personally I knew what my body was capable of. I was the picture of perfect health and fitness and the most severe illness I ever had was the flu. I had never broken a bone or had stitches and found myself proud of that.

Then, on December 27th, 2004 everything changed.

I was 24 years old and I was just told that I had a precancerous polyp in my colon and had to have surgery to remove it.

What? Surgery? A colon polyp? My mind was a jumbled mess of confusion. But I did EVERYTHING right AND I'm was only 24 years old. Wasn't colon cancer something old people got?

It shouldn't have come as such a huge shock being that my older brother was just over a year in remission for colon cancer, diagnosed at the age of 26 but it was happening to me and it was. A shock that is.

On January 14th, 2005 I checked into the hospital and had almost two feet of my colon removed. After a  setback from a major complication during surgery, another emergency surgery, a temporary ileostomy bag and nine emotionally trying days in the hospital, I was released and able to go home with the orders of gaining as much weight as possible so that I could have one more surgery to reverse the ileostomy bag and reconnect my large intestine to my small.

Grateful to be home, I went about the first couple weeks feeling relieved and just happy to be back at my parents house to recover. Then, what seemed out of nowhere I started to feel sad and a depression set in like I had never experienced before.

Everything that had happened over the course of the last month began crashing down on me. My body was different are now I barred a scar about 6 inches from my belly button to the top of my public bone, I had a bag connected to my stomach (that I had to go to the bathroom in) and I could barely walk a quarter of a mile without feeling tired.

I once felt so strong, so invisible and now I was left feeling like a stranger in my own body and with that came a lack of trust in its ability to heal and stay healthy. I lost all trust that it was able to do it's job. 

So, here I was, having to accept that I was a mortal being, something not too many 24 year old's have to think about. I had to adapt to a new way of existing in a tired, weak and broken body. I was forced to question my whole identity.

Maybe you are reading this and you can relate. Maybe you have had an experience where your body, once the picture of health and vitality, had been left broken and unable to work properly? Maybe you are going through that right now.

So what do you do now?

It took time to learn that I had to adjust to a new way of existing within my body. I had to love my new features like the 6 inch scar running down my belly and slowly gain my strength back. I rushed back to the gym only to find myself with a hernia and back in the hospital. Once my intestines were reconnected, my body had to learn how to work again which also left me heading to the emergency room on more than one occasion.

Looking back, if I could offer up any advice for someone being tested by their body I would say this:

// Be kind and patient and give yourself time to heal. Don't try to rush back into your old way of existing.

// Have gratitude for what you CAN do, like walk. Seriously. You may not have the strength you once had but if you can walk from here to there, that is something to be thankful for.

// Live as preventative as you can. Eat organic, whole foods that will speed up the healing process and give you more energy.

// Listen to your body, it will tell you what it needs. Take naps when needed. Healing takes an incredible amount of energy. I slept a lot and very hard during my months of healing.

// Practice daily self-care, give yourself a lot of love. Take a bath, read a good book, make nutritious meals. Do what  you can to feel loved, nurtured and taken care of.

Whenever you are faced with illness or an injury you are also faced with change and change is hard to accept and deal with. It takes a lot of strength and courage, which I know you have.

It also takes persistence and resilience. You have to be able to accept what has happened and that somethings are completely out of our control, something that is hard for a lot of us. However, by doing so you are giving yourself room to find a new normal and possibly come back even stronger than you were before.

Life can throw some pretty interesting curve balls. Would I have ever guess that at 24 years old I'd be facing the possibility of colon cancer? No way! But I did, it's part of my story now and it was my choice how I used it in my life.

And you have the choice too. Where will you go? How will you deal with what is happening within your body right now? Most importantly, how will you learn to trust your body again?

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Lots of love

When Your Self-Care Routine Becomes a Burden


Self-care has become a bit of a buzz word. It's everywhere, popping up more and more the further you get into the world of self-discovery and inquiry. But what exactly is it?

To me, self-care is the act and attitude you take to maintain a standard of well-being, health and personal happiness. It's those things that add a richness to your life, that make you feel full, nurtured and taken care of.

But what happens when you rituals of self-care become too much and start to impede on all of the above? Is that even possible?

I was talking with a client the other day and she mentioned that she was feeling like her self-care routine was starting to feel like a burden. I asked her what she meant by this and she told me how she got up at 5:30am, before her family was up,  just so she would have enough time to do all the things that she felt would add to her happiness, fulfillment and betterment as a person. Except, it wasn't. It was stressing her out and causing her to feel depleted and disappointed when she couldn't get to everything.

I asked her why she felt she needed to include everything in her self-care routine and she replied that they were all things she really wanted to make a part of her life. They were habits and behaviors she valued and brought joy, peace and happiness to others, and thought they would bring that to her as well.

I paused for a moment before asking her my next question. "What do you think you should do then?" I asked.

She continued to tell me how it was causing additional stress on top of everything else that was overwhelming her. When she couldn't commit to something fully then she felt disappointed. She was lacking excitement to participate in them because they were feeling like a chore.

"I probably need to look over my routine and remove the things that don't feel right to me anymore." She replied.


I think this is something that anyone who is aware and committed to adding in self-care to their daily lives goes through. We all know how important it is to do things that we love, those things that make us feel alive and nurtured and well taking care of, but there are only so many hours in they day.  In our ideal world we'd be able to carve out enough time to leisurely go about our day, pausing for 20 minutes here and there to meditate, followed by an hour-long yoga class, and walk outside and come home to a nice warm bath. Maybe some days you can do this but when it starts to impede on your happiness, when you start to look at those things like just another thing on your list of things to do,  it's time to take a good, hard look at your current reality.

I'm a HUGE believer in self-care rituals. I talk about how important it is all the time with clients however, when it starts to feel like a chore, then it's a sign you have taken on too many acts of self-love and you aren't fully able to commit to and absorb their benefits. Therefore, it turns into yet another chore or task we need to do.

I told my client that maybe she needed to write a list of everything she did in a day to promote self-care and cross out the things that were weighing her down and making her feel conflicted and stressed and do those things that really filled her soul with a deeper sense of self-love.

When we do this we are able to really get the full benefits of self-care.

Remember this when you are thinking about your self-care routing; it's quality over quantity. It's not how many things we can fit into our day but how those things make us feel inside.

Reader Challenge -- If you are feeling like your self-care routine is adding more stress than feelings of nurturing and love, reassess what you are doing and remove that which feels more like a burden and invest more into what you keep.

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