In 2018, I published the ebook “My Decade Living with IBS-D,” which recounts my slow journey to digestive health. Today, I added a brief “Update: August 2022” section to the end of that ebook, to share a few of the changes I’ve experienced since then. Below I’m posting the entirety of this section.
Hello dear reader,
It’s Rebecca of August, 2022—the Rebecca five years after my digestion was fully healed, and four years since writing this ebook. People are always changing, and a static PDF cannot reflect my current perspectives, but below I have included some thoughts and notable updates.
Some statements may feel sweeping—as it would take multiple memoirs to take you on my journey these past five years—but we only have a few pages of text together here.
On the Surface
Here are a few snapshots of my health that are easier to see externally:
I did go back to France in 2019 and ate whole foods plant-based, save for a pain au chocolat that I got one day. Damien’s mother made me a vegan paella and vegan donuts!
I continue to eat what feels right for me, and that has been a whole foods plant-based diet. I buy organic groceries, I am growing some vegetables in a small garden this summer, and I drink lots of tea and herbal infusions. I cook and bake each weekend so that I’ll have nourishing meals and snacks during the workweek. To be cooking or to be baking grounds me, connects me to the Earth, and is an act of care for myself.
There are plenty of new resources which encourage vegan eating, including Earthling Ed. He is a vegan educator and public speaker who has made fantastic resources, such as this free ebook which debunks common vegan “myths.” (If I’d known about Earthling Ed all those years ago at dinner with my dietician aunt, I could have confidently declared “All protein comes from plants!” when she inquired about my protein.)
Not Drinking Alcohol
I haven’t drank alcohol since February of 2019, another change that has felt great in my body. This wasn’t a conscious decision; first days went by, then months, and the more time that went by without alcohol, the less I wanted to drink it. I can feel more in my body, I sleep well, and my senses are clear, deep, and alert. My relationships are stronger and I experience so many more emotions and sensations.
Things don’t have to be “rock bottom” or problematic in order to stop doing something. (See Nicole Antoinette’s podcasts or read Laura McKowen’s memoir “We Are the Luckiest” for more of this thinking.) Wanting to do something is enough reason to do it.
During the summer of 2020 I got super into sparkling water, after disliking it my whole life prior. It’s still a refreshing summer beverage for me now. Who knows what my body will enjoy five years from now? In five years, I’ll know.
I have an incredible naturopathic doctor where I currently live, and she makes me feel seen, heard, and safe. Earlier this spring we did some blood tests and a saliva cortisol test to get some information about my body. I’ve been taking a few supplements since, to help with a specific health concern.
This season of my life I’m working regularly with a therapist/energy healer, and have been meeting with a massage therapist monthly or so as well.
I live without internet in my home and I don’t use social media. I go to bed at 7:30 p.m. and wake up around 5 a.m. I generally don’t make plans, but perhaps I’ll set an intention. I wake up each day and assess my energy levels/capacity and inclinations as they arise. If I feel creative energy is present, I’ll bake something or sing a song or write a letter. If I have lower energy, I’ll rest. If I need to move emotions, I’ll walk or cry or write. If I feel the need to release, I’ll make a small ceremony or snap a branch in half. And so on.
This feels aligned, true, and right for the mammal that is me at this moment. Slow is my speed. Books, journals, and trees are my joyful companions. We’re all different; it’s a matter of learning how your mammal reacts and what your mammal needs. In this personal chapter of my life, my body needs safety, gentle kindness, and comforts. I know what feeds my energy/soul and what drains it, so I give myself what I need and I avoid / say “no” to what drains it. These rhythms will change over time.
I’m intentional about the language I use. There are many phrases I used in writing five years ago, which I wouldn’t use today. For example, “dietary restrictions over the holidays” sounds limiting and excluding. I love eating plants-based! I eat a much wider variety of flavors and dishes than I ever did growing up, and it’s quite enjoyable. That’s just one phrase. The language I choose to speak and write today has changed to be more inclusive and more resonant with my Spirit.
Below the Surface
Here are some shifts in my perspectives which are perhaps harder to see externally:
The largest change is the spiritual lens I’ve gained since writing this ebook. I interact with subtle energy, and have become a deep-sensing person. (Other terms that resonate at different levels: empath, Highly Sensitive Person, 6-sensing, spiritually sensitive). This impacts how I perceive reality, and how I spend my time each day.
Digestive health was the focus of the healing journey documented here, but my current healing journey centers on grief, trauma, a sensitive nervous system, Somatic Experiencing, inner child work, shadow work, energy, and my relationship with the Earth.
Spirituality has become my center. Following my Inner Knowing and curiosities has been pivotal for my well-being:
- Letting my Spirit be who she is at the core, based on intuition, experience, and feeling.
- Noticing where I feel pressures from others and what my natural inclinations are.
- Living with the seasons.
- Feeling my emotions and expressing them freely.
- Letting the quiet nudges guide my days.
- Learning what Rebecca Rose needs, nurturing her inner child, grounding her energy with the Earth’s, and allowing her to bloom.
Wholeness & Nature
Our Western society may fool us to believe we can work on parts separately, but everything is interconnected so intricately and deeply. Health is not separate from a Job or Relationships or Rituals or Family or Making or Body Movement or Friendships or Thoughts or Relationship With Self or Connection With Nature or Emotions Experienced in Childhood. Everything is woven together.
A key piece of this web is Mother Earth. Many indigenous cultures honor the Earth and her life-giving force, as do many spiritual and religious traditions. A connection with the Earth is necessary to health/life. Lack of this relationship is what causes much pain and suffering in our world. If each board meeting/school day/family breakfast/etc. began with a moment to feel the sun’s warmth on our skin, to thank the sun and the Earth, to feel gratitude towards the plants which feed us, house us, give our lungs oxygen to breathe—what kind of decisions would be made?
I do not need to read studies; I know what my body/energy feels like when I’m sitting in the backyard, watching the grasses sway, hearing the birds singing, smelling the fresh air as it enters through my nose, and seeing the web of tree branches overhead.
Western Medical System
Not only is the Western medical system mechanistic and based on parts, but it was created within the patriarchy—within institutions/societies that are racist, mysogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, capitalistic, and generally excluding of minorities. Perhaps some of this has been illuminated to you in recent years. If not, and/or if you’re curious to learn more, the book “Medicine Woman: Reclaiming the Soul of Healing” by Lucy H. Pearce is a great exploration.
Human bodies cover colorful spectrums and have a wide range of lived experiences. Much of the Western medical system, however, puts humans into their boxes, and has historically given preference to learning about the bodies of white, able-bodied men. This system tends to treat symptoms on the surface instead of healing root causes. I trust my lived/felt experience in my body over someone else’s opinions of my body based on the filters they were taught.
Hand-in-hand with my spiritual lens and deep-sensing is energy. Since I can now feel subtle energies, an interest of mine is energy healing. “Anatomy of the Spirit” by Caroline Myss and Deepak Chopra’s “Quantum Healing” were the first books I read on this topic.
I’ve dipped into a lot—through reading, working with practitioners, and experiencing myself: Shamanism, Reiki, Feldenkrais, Donna Eden’s “Energy Medicine,” The Realization Process (Judith Blackstone), somatic meditation (Dr. Reggie Ray), Catherine Liggett (inner child/shadow work for empaths), and Intuition Medicine (Francesca McCartney).
In the past year and a half, the most influential experience/learning for my health has been Somatic Experiencing. The body holds trauma, and all humans have trauma—big T and little t. Trauma is not an event; it’s how the body’s nervous system responds to certain stimuli.
Somatic Experiencing has taught me about my particular nervous system’s wiring, and is helping me heal its sensitivities/activations that were programmed in childhood.
I was introduced to all of this through Molly Caro May’s Story Mammal workshop, which I’ve experienced twice at this point. I’m in the middle of this particular journey, learning how to heal/rewire my sensitive nervous system.
And that is a little taste into where my mind, body, and heart have been over the past couple of years. Below are some sources that have shaped my thinking during this time.
- “Give the Gift of Healing: A Concise Guide to Spiritual Healing” by Rosemary Altea
- “The Realization Process: A Step-by-Step Guide to Embodied Spiritual Awakening” by Dr. Judith Blackstone
- “Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind Body Medicine” by Deepak Chopra
- “Energy Medicine for Women” by Donna Eden
- “Body of Health: The New Science of Intuition Medicine for Energy & Balance” by Francesca McCartney
- “Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing” by Caroline Myss
- “Shaman, Healer, Sage: How to Heal Yourself and Others with the Energy Medicine of the Americas” by Alberto Villoldo
- “Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic” by Martha Beck
- “Belonging Here: A Guide for the Spiritually Sensitive Person” by Dr. Judith Blackstone
- “The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire” by Deepak Chopra
- “Trust Your Vibes: Secret Tools for Six-Sensory Living” by Sonia Choquette
- “The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People” by Judith Orloff
- “The Book of Ceremony: Shamanic Wisdom for Invoking the Sacred in Everyday Life” by Sandra Ingerman
- “Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics” by Mirabai Starr
- “Heart Minded: How to Hold Yourself and Others in Love” by Sarah Blondin
- “Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha” by Tara Brach
- “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers: Reclaiming Your Power, Creativity, Brilliance and Dreams” by Debbie Ford
- “Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life” by Byron Katie
- “Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself” by Lissa Rankin
- “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” by Eckhart Tolle
- “A Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson
- “Coming Full Circle: Ancient Teachings for a Modern World” by Lynn V. Andrews
- “The Moon Book: Lunar Magic to Change Your Life” by Sarah Faith Gottesdiener
- “Poet Warrior: A Memoir” and “Crazy Brave” by Joy Harjo
- “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants” by Robin Wall Kimmerer
- “The Overstory” by Richard Powers
- “The Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature” by Starhawk
- “Call of the Wild: How We Heal Trauma, Awaken Our Own Power, and Use It for Good” by Kimberly Ann Johnson
- Molly Caro May (Story Mammal workshop; The Loam community)
- Somatic Experiencing Directory (list of SE practitioners)