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Love Through the Mess

My toddler is having a melt down while I am changing my kicking, crying infant’s full diaper. As Grayson is jumping around to avoid my swatting, he hits my elbow then nearly plants his foot in the motherload resting on the ground by my knee. I start to lose it.

Who is this tyrant I gave birth to? What the hell is wrong with him? My normally calm voice breaks into a feverish mom voice. Like a boiling pot with a lid on, irrational things start to escape from my mouth. Some of them might be swear words. I start to threaten this small maniac. I sound kinda crazy.

And like that, a lifetime of training goes down the tubes. Mindfulness? Staying centered and grounded? Not today.

I begin to feel urgently that those with anger management issues should NEVER be parents. No one but my three year old has ever elicited this sort of rage from me. And he is a truly great kid.

Less than an hour later, the diaper is clean and Grayson is sitting happily drawing.

He’s perfectly fine. And I am still pissed. I feel harried, frazzled, tired, resentful and messy. I have not brushed my teeth or combed my hair and we need to get to preschool.

In some variation or degree, this is a weekly, if not daily experience for me. Even as I’m writing this, I can feel the pent up anger in my chest and the heaviness of the shaming voice saying “why don’t you have this figured out yet?! You’re supposed to be a teacher.”

I rack my brain for a mantra, a practice, a yoga pose that will help me stay calm through the chaos of my children, help me be a parent that’s a little more like Mr. Myagi, or like Buddha. But nothing seems all-encompassing enough for this….

…And then last night as I was closing up my computer, out of things to write (I did not come up with a mantra ) I recalled a conversation I had on Easter Sunday with my brother in law. He shared something he had heard his pastor say that morning. He said,

“The world is messy right now. Our job is simply to love through the mess.”

I was thinking it sounded like a great blog post but it did not occur to me until last night to apply it to my own little life. What if we could stop trying to fix things and just love?

What if I could stop trying to control my kids, running after Grayson with the vacuum, cringing every time he eats toothpaste? Just love him more, and perhaps more to the point, love myself more. Stop trying to “get it right”.

As I consider this idea of “loving through the mess”, my chest literally relaxes. It feels warm. My jaw softens.

Then I start to wonder….can I actually begin to love the mess itself? And then I realize, I already do.


Camron Momyer is a Reiki Therapist and Intuitive Healer based in Seattle, WA. By accessing more joy and less worry, she helps others easily step into their life purpose. You can learn more about her and book a remote reiki session on her website, www.soulsourcedenergy.com

 

#LoveThroughtheMess #love #selflove

postpartum doulas are a new mother's dream come true

Postpartum Doula; The Support Every New Parent Needs

When I tell people that I’m a Postpartum Doula and the responsibilities that entails, I hear far too often – “Where were you when I needed you?”. While both birth and postpartum doulas have been around for quite some time, Postpartum Doulas have more recently gained popularity. 

The Role of a Postpartum Doula

The definition of a Postpartum Doula is as follows: A postpartum doula is a professional support person trained in the needs of the family in the days, weeks and months after birth or the addition of a new baby. The doula offers non-judgmental support, guidance, evidence-based education, and practical hands-on support immediately after birth through the first year. Doula originates from the Greek word meaning woman servant.

The period after birth is what we call the “Fourth Trimester”. This is a time period where not only is the newborn adjusting to life outside of the womb, but the adults caring for them are also transitioning into a new role. The postpartum period looks different for everybody and the role I play as their doula during this stage varies based on each individual need. The ultimate goal is to help not only the mother but the family unit as a whole foster maximum self-determination. My role is not to do everything for them, but instead support them so they have the confidence to know they CAN do it on their own.

 

mother & baby

During this period, there are prominent aspects that I give specific attention to. These include: emotional support, physical comfort of the mother, self-care, infant care, education, partner support, sibling support, referrals, and household organization. Though I focus on each of these aspects with every client, my role as their doula looks different for each one. I must assess their specific needs depending on their individualized preferences and provide evidence based information for the mother to make the best informed decision regarding what is best for herself and her baby. 

Anything outside my scope of practice requires a referral, as doulas are not medical professionals. This includes having a rolodex of professionals including certified lactation consultants, postpartum therapists, physical therapists specializing in women’s reproductive systems including before, during and after labor into the postpartum period, among many others. 

As their doula, my focus is on “mothering the mother”, meaning I ensure that self-care is foremost, especially if a new mother has had a cesarean section. Proper nutrition, rest, and fluids are top priority. I am a companion, always there to listen in a non-judgmental environment and ready to provide resources, referrals and options to decrease feelings of worry/concern, stress, and segregation from life before they gave birth. 

postpartum doulas support mothers & their babies

Why Work with a Postpartum Doula?

Women have been nurtured and cared for since the beginning of time from various individuals including family, neighbors, and friends. There are numerous benefits that come from being supported by a Postpartum Doula, much like the support for those in your tribe. Mothers and partners do not feel so alone and gain confidence with the help of a doula, as the doulas role is to affirm that these individuals are right on track. Showing your confidence in them allows them to grow more confidence in themselves and trust the decisions that they are making. 

Having a Postpartum Doula assists not only in instilling confidence but also helps the parent truly understand their newborn. The first 5-7 days are an extreme roller coaster, with hormonal changes and body recovery, all the while getting to know a new member or members of the family. I help those caring for the newborn learn how to interpret cries, body language, reflexes, and those super sweet baby sounds that occur. With wisdom and gentleness, as your Postpartum Doula, I am able to guide you through this journey! 

A Day (or Night) in the Life of a Postpartum Doula

Doulas work around the clock because let’s face it, newborns do everything on their own terms. They eat when they want, they sleep when they want, and we are there to make sure they are happy! Every single day and every single shift is different. Many doulas choose to work minimum 3-4 hour shifts, though I work as little or as much (up to 8 hours) as my client desires. I chose to provide my shifts in 60 minute increments due to no limitations on self-care. If a new mother is having some anxiety about leaving her newborn but just really wants to get a pedicure, I am there. If she wants to take a nice, long, hot shower and know her newborn is well cared for, I am there. If she just wants to enjoy a coffee alone, I am there.

 

I always check in with a client before arriving to see if there is anything they need me to pick up for them. Some place grocery orders and I pick them up on the way, some simply want an iced latte. Some have medication that they have not been able to pick up, and some simply say no thanks. First two things I always do upon arrival is remove my shoes and wash my hands. 

Depending on the needs of the client, a typical shift consists of A LOT of baby wearing. Sometimes I wash bottles and fold laundry while wearing the baby. Sometimes I simply sit and listen to my client talk about their fears and concerns while bouncing on a medicine ball with their newborn in my arms. Active listening is the key, as you are there solely for them, to guide them, to support them, to listen to them, to validate their feelings and concerns. 

Sometimes, the mother just gives me a few instructions and cannot wait to leave for a few hours! I wash a lot of bottles, fold a lot of baby clothes, and get spit up on A LOT! I show new mothers how to engage their baby to properly open their mouth for a successful latch when they are having breastfeeding issues, I place breastmilk into baggies and properly label them and wash pumping supplies. I support new mothers who are having difficulties breastfeeding and refer them to some amazing certified lactation consultants.

Working an overnight shift means a lot of newborn snuggles! I love working overnight shifts, the main reason being I know how exhausting it can be and being able to provide support for new parents in the form of getting uninterrupted sleep is priceless. Whether it be snuggling a newborn all night who will not sleep otherwise, to feeding and changing them on cue, to light household chores that do not cause a disruption; overnight shifts are very rewarding. The most rewarding part is when morning comes and one or both of the parents look well rested and are beyond elated that they got more than two hours of sleep without having to get up. 

Becoming a Postpartum Doula has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. It is far beyond just a career. Nothing compares to knowing you are making a difference in the lives of others at their most vulnerable times. These individuals invite us Doulas into their lives and their homes, and in turn, we provide them with invaluable support that allows them to be the best they can be.


Wendy Quast is a Postpartum Doula and the founder of Seattle Day Doula. She has over twenty years of hands-on childcare experience and received her postpartum certification from Bastyr University. Interested in working with Wendy? Book visits using this link or send an email to admin@seattledaydoula.com

Support Your Hormonal Health With Nutrition

When it comes to our hormones, what we consume matters. However, there is not one diet that works for every single person. Food is neither bad nor good-rather, bio-individuality predicts that we all react to what we consume differently.  When we begin to assign morality to what we consume, we can develop perfectionist attitudes and an unhealthy cycle of shame around our food choices. This behavior can cause an immense amount of stress that cannot only be dangerous but will have a detrimental impact on our hormones. 

In my own work, before even exploring different foods that may help or hinder happy hormones, I work with my clients to cultivate intuitive eating. Intuitive eating is the skill of making decisions about what we consume based upon a place of listening to our own authentic needs rather than ascribing to pressure from outside ourselves to eat a certain way. We begin with the understanding that our nutrition has a unique effect on our mental, physical and emotional state. From there, my client identifies exactly how they want to feel in their mind, body and spirit and begin to make nutritional choices based on their own intrinsic desires and motivations.  

Our physiology, goals, health history, and struggles are all so vastly different. With some basic understandings about what we need to nourish our bodies on a daily basis, we can determine what is right for us. Below I share the essentials to maintaining hormonal health from a nutritional perspective. 

stabilize your blood sugar to support your nutritionStabilize your blood sugar.

Do you ever wake up, drink a cup of coffee on an empty stomach, run out the door with a muffin in your hand and an hour later feel shaky and hungry? What about an intense craving for caffeine or something sweet around 3PM? Do you find yourself consistently hangry or moody when a few hours ago you felt great? This is dysregulated blood sugar.

When our blood sugar spikes, our pancreas releases insulin in an effort to convert the sugar in our bloodstream into energy for our cells. Our bodies are designed to deal with this chain reaction sporadically. However, our modern lives are filled with sneaky sugar and pre-packaged, nutrient deprived foods to eat on ‘the go,’ causing us to experience these effects constantly.

When our insulin levels rise so do our cortisol levels. Refer to my previous post on how high cortisol can impact our sex hormones. There are also insulin receptors on our ovaries and when we have high levels of insulin production, our ovaries can respond by overproducing testosterone instead of estrogen. This can cause us to ovulate infrequently or not at all.

What are some culprits of dysregulated blood sugar?

  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • simple carbohydrates/refined grains found in pasta, white bread, baked goods
  • refined sugar found in sauces, sodas, candy, nut butters-read your labels!
  • even high glycemic fruit like pineapple, mango and banana

Do your best to limit your consumption of these foods and beverages, especially if you notice symptoms of dysregulated blood sugar (low energy, headache, insatiable appetite). In addition, when sitting down for a meal or reaching for a snack, make sure that there are good sources of healthy fats and/or proteins present. By implementing these macronutrients, our bodies are better equipped to maintain stabilized blood sugar allowing you to experience sustained energy, moods and happier, more balanced hormones. 

inflammatory foodsBe aware of how you react to inflammatory foods.

Dairy, caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol, gluten, eggs, soy and peanuts are some of the biggest culprits of inflammation. Inflammation in our bodies is responsible for most chronic conditions and can contribute to painful periods, skin issues like acne, anxiety and chronic fatigue. We are not all reactive to these items but when trying to identify the root cause of a symptom, a good place to start is examining your experience with these common culprits. Cutting these foods out in a way that aligns with your life and goals may give you more answers as to what your system can handle and what it cannot.

drinking water is key to nutritionDrink water.

Many of us are in a chronic state of dehydration, which has a direct effect on our body’s ability to function optimally. Aim to consume at least half your body weight in ounces daily or more if you are very active. 

Consume mainly whole foods from clean sources.

At the end of the day, our body’s function optimally when we nourish ourselves with the nutrients that come from the abundance of food our planet provides. The plants and animals with the greatest nutrients are ones that have lived in an environment that is free from toxic chemicals. Do your best to consume organic, non-GMO, grass-fed, free-range and wild caught. You really are what you eat. Here are some examples of nutrient packed foods that support happy hormones and optimal reproductive functioning: 

  • cruciferous vegetables: kale, cabbage and brussel sprouts
  • seaweed and kelp 
  • healthy fats: olive oil, avocado, seeds and nuts
  • omega-3 rich foods: sardines, flax seeds, walnuts and salmon
  • organ meats… I know, I know, but they are some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet! Organ meats are especially beneficial for women preparing for pregnancy.

If you are currently experiencing symptoms of hormone imbalance, I urge you to experiment with what you consume from a place of curiosity. Take note of how you feel as you make subtle changes and let your findings guide your decision making on how best to nourish yourself moving forward. 


If implementing diet and lifestyle changes seems overwhelming or you feel as though you need support on your journey, please contact Lizzy at wellwomen@lizzymoran.com! You don’t have to walk this path alone.

Want to have a deeper understanding of your menstrual cycle? Check out Lizzy’s first blog post in the series.

Curious about the keys to happy hormones? Check out Lizzy’s second blog post in the series.

Understanding the Menstrual Cycle

A Shared Experience

There was a time in the not too distant past where I viewed my period like many humans in the world who have a uterus: a painful burden that brought acne, bloating, rage in my veins and an overwhelming craving for Cheez Its and Ben & Jerry’s. My understanding of my monthly bleeding was simplified down to two basic understandings; Because of the anatomy I was born with, I was destined to endure a shameful, painful, ‘dirty’ experience every month for at least three decades AND I wasn’t pregnant.

I am not alone in this experience. Many of us are kept in the dark about our menstrual cycles due to lack of sufficient education coupled with false beliefs perpetuated by society. The truth is our menstrual cycle is important for reasons other than creating more humans. The fluctuation of our sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone, throughout a healthy menstrual cycle can have an overwhelmingly positive effect on our energy, libido, skin, bone health, emotional wellbeing, metabolism, and productivity.

A Vital Sign

The menstrual cycle is also considered a vital sign by both the American Academy of Pediatrics and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Yes, a vital sign. Like our heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure. The information our bodies are giving us through presence of pain, amount of menstrual blood, regularity of bleeding, mood and energy can give us essential insights into our overall health.

This article is not to shame you for feeling disgust, or indifference towards your menstrual cycle. This article is also not to make you feel as though you should add one more item to your list of things that make you ‘imperfect’ because what I describe below is not your current reality and never has been. I am writing this article to share information that we ALL should have learned years ago. Maybe then something as natural and essential for life as menstruation wouldn’t be so taboo.

I will explain below what a healthy menstrual cycle can look like. This can serve as a baseline to reference. Please keep in mind that there is no ‘perfect’ cycle and that slight variabilities will occur due to stress levels and your health. I invite you to start noticing your own cycle and how you feel throughout the month. Take note when you notice something out of your ordinary. If it becomes a persistent issue, I urge you to seek to support from a trusted healthcare practitioner. Our bodies are giving us signals constantly on what they need in order to function optimally. We need to start listening with compassion and curiosity instead of judgment.

Let’s dive in!

The Phases

There are four phases to the menstrual cycle:

  • Menstruation (the bleeding part of the Follicular Phase)
  • Follicular phase (the non-bleeding part of the Follicular phase)
  • Ovulation
  • The Luteal phase

The menstrual cycle encompasses ALL of these phases, not just menstruation. In fact, a menstrual cycle is only considered healthy if ovulation has been confirmed (more on this below!) A healthy menstrual cycle should last between 24-35 days. It begins on day one of your flow (not spotting) and ends the day preceding your next first day of flow.

I want to mention hormonal birth control because many forms work by suppressing ovulation. If you are currently on the pill or some other form of hormonal BC, what I describe below may not be your current reality. We all have goals and maybe yours is to avoid getting pregnant because you are having heterosexual sex. I am providing this information because you or a loved one has female reproductive organs and therefore should have a basic understanding of how they work.

Here’s a closer look at the 4 phases:

Menstruation (Lasts 3-7 days)

  • Consistency and color of blood matter! Your period should resemble some variation of red from the color of cranberry juice to a deep burgundy. The consistency should resemble that of maple syrup with little (no larger than a dime) to no clots.
  • 25ml (roughly half a shot glass) to 80ml (roughly 2 shot glasses) is a normal volume of menstrual blood to lose each cycle.
  • Your key sex hormones (estrogen, testosterone and progesterone) are at their lowest, which can cause you to feel tired and low energy. If your schedule allows, take some time to rest. Perhaps a quiet night at home watching a movie or journaling.
  • Your cervix is at its lowest and feels like the tip of your nose.
  • Light pain or cramping is normal. Moderate to extreme levels of pain are not and could be caused by inflammation due to nutrition and lifestyle or another underlying health condition.
  • If you are experiencing pain, having an orgasm may help! When we orgasm, a hormone called oxytocin is released which has been found to suppress low levels of pain! And don’t fret if you’ve never had an orgasm before. Check out The O School ….. You’re welcome.

Follicular Phase (Lasts 7-10 days)

  • As estrogen and testosterone rise to peak levels, our energy increases.
  • Your mood may improve as you progress further into this phase due to the increase in estrogen. Estrogen supports the healthy production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.
  • The increase in estrogen as you approach ovulation will also influence your cervical fluid to change from a drier or sticky consistency (not fertile mucus) to a more wet, slippery or egg white consistency (fertile).

Ovulation (3-5 days)

  • The mature follicle in one of your two ovaries bursts and releases an egg that travels into your fallopian tube. A temporary endocrine gland called the Corpus Luteum will grow on the follicle that burst. Yes, we are aliens. This temporary endocrine gland that grows and disintegrates every cycle is responsible for the progesterone surge that we will receive for the remaining two weeks of our cycle. If we conceive, then your progesterone will continue to rise. Without ovulation, we do not receive this surge of progesterone.
  • The actual event of ovulation takes seconds, but the physiological effects on mood, energy, and even appearance can last days.
  • Progesterone has a thermogenic effect which means that our body temperature is warmer during the second half of our menstrual cycle.
  • Estrogen and testosterone are at their peak levels which can contribute to increased sex drive, improved mood and high energy. Take advantage! Go on a date, hang out with friends or try something new!
  • Studies have shown that we have increased verbal skills during this time. Personally, I input my entire cycle into my google calendar and try to plan all my speaking engagements around ovulation.

How do we confirm ovulation?

  1. Your cervical fluid is a wet consistency, like egg whites, boogery, slippery, watery and clear in appearance. Fertility, regardless of whether you choose to use it or not, is a good indicator that you are healthy! So, let’s celebrate cervical fluid!
  2. Your cervix is soft, high, open and wide.
  3. Your basal body temperature, has increased and remained higher for three consecutive days. You can determine your BBT by taking your temperature first thing in the morning, ideally around the same time every day, before doing anything else.

Luteal Phase (10-16 days)

  • After ovulation estrogen and testosterone will slowly decline with a slight increase mid luteal phase. The predominant hormone in this half of our cycle is progesterone.
  • Progesterone keeps us feeling calm and peaceful.
  • 5-7 days out from menstruation we may begin to feel more withdrawn, tired and less social. This is NORMAL! If possible, make plans to incorporate more low-key activities: long walks, naps, baths or even saying “no” to one more social engagement. Your body and mind will thank you!

With a greater understanding of how your cycle impacts you on a daily basis, you can feel empowered to make daily decisions that feel nourishing to your mind, body and spirit. In addition, the increased awareness of your cycle will allow you to better advocate for your health if you notice something that is out of the norm.

Resources on Menstrual and Hormonal Health:

Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden
The Fifth Vital Sign by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack
The Period Party Podcast with Nicole Jardim (my mentor!) and Nat Kringoudis
Fertility Friday Podcast with Lisa Hendrickson-Jack


If you have questions or concerns about your menstrual cycle or are curious about working together, please set up a free 30-minute consultation on my website: www.lizzymoran.com

If you would like to dive even deeper into understanding your menstrual cycle and holistic ways you can support yourself throughout the month, please sign up for my newsletter. I am planning some exciting workshops around this topic for the Fall and would love to see you there! In addition, if you are interested in inviting me to lead a workshop at your place of work, book club or yoga studio please contact me at wellwomen@lizzymoran.com

Information in this post is provided for informational purposes only. The information is a result of practice experience and research by the author. This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem.

How to Master the Art of Listening

I have been working in the field of energy healing for a little over ten years. I became interested in energy work after I began to have repeated unusual experiences with my hands and my vision coupled by a total anxiety meltdown. This led me to receive my very first energy healing session where I was desperately looking for answers and resolve. My session did not disappoint and my path in energetics has continuously gained momentum ever since. What I love most about holding space for others, is witnessing the light bulb turn on inside illuminating intrinsic truth. We all hold the power to heal and to become more balanced and whole.

Through my work I have discovered that learning is a continuous journey, but the one thing I know for a fact is that mastering the art of listening is life changing. When we listen, we can recognize and hear what we need becoming more aware and more in tune with our needs emotionally, physically and energetically. This process also empowers us to understand others with expanded compassion and awareness. Every experience you have has learning in it if you look for it and take the learning and integrate it. Not only can you listen more deeply to your own needs but you can also listen and learn from nature. If you pay attention in nature, there is a teacher within all plants, trees, animals, the ocean, the mountains, EVERYTHING has teachings if you desire to listen. All that is required is creating space within you to listen.

This seems so simple but listening is a learned skill. It takes practice opening up the space inside you to listen, to honor how you are feeling what your body is saying to you. When we do things like deny our true selves, we miss messages and make mistakes in our choices. However, when we listen to emotional and physical cues, we become attuned to subtle spiritual and energetic signs. In this state we are primed to hear messages from guides, angels, loved ones who have passed on, our higher selves, and more. So, it is important to take the time to master the essential skill of listening.

Pay Attention

Begin by noticing the messages your body sends you and respond with an action that shows you heard. For example, if you are thirsty your mouth and throat will be dry, so drink water when those signs first appear. Also, take breaks when your body is tired, and eat foods that nourish you. Choose sleep over your to-do list when possible. Move your body through dance, walking, and stretching. Nourish yourself—try taking salt baths, give yourself a foot massage, or maybe buy yourself flowers or a special candle.

Embrace Your Emotions

When you are upset, slow down and get grounded. Allow yourself to fully feel your feelings and notice what is upsetting you. For example, if you are angry, embrace the anger instead of denying it. Ask it why it is here. Maybe you have a good reason to be mad. Cry when you are sad. We are conditioned to suppress our feelings, but if we bottle up emotions, these emotions will manifest themselves in our body in various unhealthy ways.

Explore Your Spirituality

In addition, begin to explore your energy field, your soul, and your higher self. Turn off your phone or computer. Try meditation, practicing visualization or simply lay your hands on your body and check in with how it feels. Connect with nature. Become familiar with your energy anatomy. Tune inward and connect where we are all one. Everything is energy, and everything is interconnected. Find that well of unconditional knowing and unconditional love inside you, in others, and in the earth. There are many ways to find this, the journey in finding this is part of the awakening process. Seek out support as needed and begin to listen to the messages that will change your life.

Download the free app called “Insight Timer” and try my free yoga meditations. These meditations are designed to encourage listening, developing a better sense of self and have integrated energy healing visualizations.


Sharlean Windus is a local energy healer and intuitive development guide. If you are interested in learning more, you can find her at www.classiquespa.com where she practices energy healing and offers reiki mentorship classes. Or visit www.sharleanwindus.com to find classes and events such as sound baths, meditation, reiki certification, and more!

The Key to Parenting Peacefully

peaceful parentingI’d like to offer a parenting reframe here around children’s behavior.  Rather than your child giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time.  You may have heard this before, but take a moment to really think about it and consider this:  all behavior is an attempt to meet a need. This goes for adults and children.

Thinking about it in this way is so helpful when interacting with your child and when trying to do the emotional work with yourself.  If you find yourself stuck repeating a behavior that you’d rather not, get curious about what need that behavior is trying to meet.  When you dissect it in this way, it becomes that much easier to find another way to meet that need in a way that actually serves you.  

So if you take that same idea and apply to your child when they’re behaving in a way that is less than desirable, look past the behavior.  See through their eyes. What is going on for them?

An example from my own experience: My son can get very obnoxious when he wants to play with his sister.  He’ll start taking her toys, hitting her with his blanket, etc. It is soooo easy to get annoyed and show anger towards him. Why can’t he just leave her alone?!  

But when I look closer, when I take the time to pay attention, I can see that he is doing it in a good spirited way, despite the fact that it’s pissing off his sister.  I can see that he really just wants connection, or maybe he wants play. Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out the need under the behavior (this is true for ourselves too).  But I know when I get curious and I put myself in his place, I can see that he just doesn’t know a better way to meet that need for connection. He’s not a “bad” kid.

So I step in and offer gentle guidance.  There is no punishment involved. To punish would be to punish for him acting like a 3 year old…which he is. AND a punishment wouldn’t teach him anything about empathy or meeting his needs. All it would do is shut him down.  He might learn to no longer do that behavior, but at what cost? At the cost of developing a deeper understanding about himself, his needs & how to meet them. And at the cost of connection with me. I don’t believe in making a child suffer for going about meeting a need as best they know how.  I do believe there is a way to teach him the valuable lessons through peaceful means.

what peaceful parenting looks likeNow let’s look at me.  If I were to have gotten angry and lost my cool with him, that would have been a less than desirable way to meet my need for peace.  I could have shut that shit down. He would have cried because I yelled but hey, he would have stopped bugging his sister. Less than desirable because it didn’t actually create peace.  

I know you Mamas know how chaotic it can be with little ones. Sometimes you just want everyone to get along, at a reasonable decibel and for the love of all that is holy, give me just 5 freaking mins of not needing me so I can think straight.  

parenting together

The beautiful thing about peaceful parenting is that responding to this scenario with calm, gentle guidance is that I create peace in that moment. I source it for myself…and for my children. Had I flipped my lid, I would have not only contributed to the chaos and lack of peace, but I also would have been modeling chaos and a lack of self control for my children…the exact opposite behavior I’m hoping for from my children.  

AND on top of that, it was a mini moment of connection. It built trust between us & fostered a sense of security. He trusts and feels safe that I am here for him and will do my best to help him get what he needs without making him feel wrong or bad for doing his best.


Written by Peaceful Parenting Coach & Collective Member, Sarah Gimel. You can learn more about Sarah on her Collective page or on her website.

Endometriosis – A Health Journey

My Endometriosis Story

I had painful periods for over 20 years, starting when I was 16. I accepted this as normal and incurable all the way back then. What medicine could not fix, I was told pregnancy eventually would. I thought the pain, nausea, vomiting, etc. were just how my body worked, endometriosis was never part of the conversation.

About 15 years ago, I started developing other symptoms as well, such as GI issues, yo-yoing thyroid hormone levels, abnormal ovarian cysts, and malabsorption issues that no provider could fully diagnose. These additional symptoms were weirdly cyclical in a way I could not pinpoint at first, but after multiple tests and procedures – ultrasounds, an MRI, a colonoscopy, tests for parasites and many blood tests – found nothing really wrong with me, I started keeping a detailed diary of my symptoms.

Because I had long accepted the incurable nature of my painful periods, my diary was initially a way for me to keep track of these “other” symptoms, but over time I started to wonder if they actually could be related to my periods. My symptom diary led me to think back about when I first started to feel sick and began to try different herbs and foods as remedies. That took me back 20 years to the first time I felt sick on my period – I was so ill, vomiting so much that I couldn’t leave the bathroom, and I was in pain.

Once I noticed that connection, I began to research with the knowledge that all the symptoms I had outside of my period were way worse during my period – so maybe that was the place of origin. After watching a documentary called Endo What?, I started to suspect I had endometriosis before any provider had a chance to diagnose me.

endometriosis excision post-operation

On February 18, 2019, I had surgery to excise endometriosis. At the same time, my gallbladder was removed, as well as my appendix. My gallbladder was chronically inflamed and functioning at a level of only 3% – only the second lowest level my surgeon had ever seen, and the lowest was 0%. My appendix was scarred and wrapped around behind my colon, where it was attached. Endometriosis was found on my sigmoid colon, cul-de-sac, rectovaginal septum, left and right uterosacral ligaments, left and right pelvic sidewalls, and my right ovary was scarred down with endo and attached to my pelvic sidewall.

Almost every day, I notice myself feeling better. It’s crazy because since my symptoms were so chronic, I had learned to live with them – and with some of the symptoms the truth of their existence occurs to me when I no longer feel them. I am going to pelvic physical therapy to address the dysfunction that is happening in my muscles and nerves after years of pain and symptoms. I’m working on getting stronger through movement. Endo is a chronic, life-long condition, but I am hoping I continue feeling the benefits of excision surgery and other lifestyle modifications. It is possible I will need more treatment later, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it

In the last week, I have also been diagnosed with celiac disease, and I hope that going strictly gluten free will alleviate even more of my symptoms. This is all a process, and I hope that in 6 months, I feel better than I have in many years.

freedom from endometriosisFor so long, women’s health has been focused on fertility, and I think that it’s the truly upsetting thing – that we are only concerned with a woman’s health when it hinders her ability to conceive. Even the stages of endometriosis correspond mostly to fertility – the higher the stage, the more infertility is expected. But the stages do not illustrate how much pain or symptoms are present, nor do they indicate where in the body endometriosis was found.

As women our health is tied to our menstrual cycles and the hormones made by them, but fertility or lack thereof is not the only indication that a cycle has gone awry. And, we need our hormones for more than just reproduction. I read this somewhere and can’t recall where: Would a man ever be told he doesn’t need testosterone until he’s ready to be a father?

As a yoga teacher and someone steeped since childhood in the world of “unconventional” medicine, I often notice anger in those who hear my story. They are frustrated at how long it took for doctors to listen to me and for me to find skilled care. It is true that Western medicine took a long time to diagnose me, but naturopathic, functional medicine did not diagnose me, either. And highly specialized, highly experienced Western medicine has also saved me with endometriosis excision surgery and detection of celiac. There are so many providers out there on both “sides” who want to learn more and want to do good, but the true symptom profile of endometriosis is still unknown to most doctors and patients.

To many, it is still seen as simply painful cramps, and trouble with conceiving. In my body and in the bodies of so many other women, it is much, much more than that.

endometriosis resourcesEndometriosis Resources

  • EndoWhat.org – start with watching the documentary.
  • Nancy’s Nook Endometriosis Education – an online patient community on Facebook. This group is more for research purposes than support, though you will find support as well through education.
  • Greater Seattle Endometriosis Group – also a community on Facebook. They host meetups throughout the year, and have more localized PNW resources than Nancy’s Nook will. I found my pelvic floor physical therapist through this group.

About Endometriosis

(info from Nancy’s Nook, EndoWhat, etc.)

  • Endometriosis – when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus that sheds each month during a period implants itself in places outside of the uterus. It can be found on the ovaries, uterus, uterine ligaments, appendix, bowels, fallopian tubes, lungs, liver, brain, etc. It causes inflammation and pain (though some can have it without any pain).
  • Endo can be found in anyone born with a uterus, and, though rare, has also been found in cis men.
  • Laparoscopic excision surgery is the gold standard of treatment today, and reoccurrence rates are much lower than for ablation
  • Endometriosis is rarely seen on imaging tests, such as ultrasound, MRI, or CT scan. The only way to definitively diagnose and treat endo is with surgery.
  • Excision does not equal ablation – ablation is like burning the top layer, leaving the “root” of the lesion intact. Excision is removing the lesion at the root.
  • It takes an average of 10 years for a person to be diagnosed with endometriosis.
  • Hormonal birth control (includes Lupron, Orlissa, and the Pill) is often prescribed for endometriosis, but its use is now understood by endo specialists to be palliative only. Hormonal birth control does not shrink lesions or make them disappear. If it helps symptoms, that is great, but beyond that it does not treat endo. Lupron and Orlissa often have terrible side effects that do not go away once the medication is stopped.
  • Pregnancy is not a cure for endometriosis. While many people do have a reduction in symptoms while pregnant, that is not true for everyone. And symptoms can come back with a vengeance after pregnancy and breastfeeding are complete.
  • Hysterectomy is not a cure for endometriosis. Endo is a disease that by definition occurs outside of the uterus. Removing the uterus does not remove endometriosis. Removing the ovaries (an oophorectomy) does not cause lesions to shrink either – endo lesions can make their own estrogen, so they do not need the ovaries to persist.

Going to the Doctor – When you think you have endo (but also anything else)

Some of these are my own, some I’ve heard along the way.

  • Make a list of concerns you want to cover, and any questions.
  • Make a separate doctor’s appointment for each concern you have (i.e. don’t tack on a question about possible endometriosis to your yearly check-up – give it its own space.)
  • Be direct and as concise as can be.
  • Practice describing your pain and when you have it. Is it hot? Stabbing? Does it feel like pulling? Does it happen all the time? How long have you had it? Do any movements or positions make it better, or worse?
  • ALWAYS ask for records, and read them. It is much easier to do this right after the office or hospital visit rather than years later. It is in my record from an ER visit in 2011 when I had classic appendicitis symptoms “patient admits she may have overindulged at her wedding two weeks ago.”  
  • At the end of the visit, re-cap what was covered with your doctor, so that you both are on the same page.
  • If the treatment does not work, and you still think that doctor can help you, go back and say the treatment did not work. Or if you find the answer through another provider, share that record with your previous doctor, so they get feedback.

Written by Collective member Lindsey Toledo, a local yoga teacher who lives on Vashon Island. Follow her on Instagram, or stay connected by joining her email list or sending her an email.

MAPS: A Self-Healing Framework

Through my studies in psychology, mindfulness and meditation, Buddhism, Mysticism, diverse spiritualities, metaphysics, and self-compassion I have learned quite a bit about the practices of self-study and internal listening. While there are many methods that we I use with myself and clients to engage in this process of being present with what is in order to heal and rebuild a deeper connection with the heart, one that I feel called to share with you is one that I developed a few years ago. Through my own process of sitting with my heart and the layers of beliefs and feelings that arose, I intuitively found this self-healing method which I call MAPS. It is an acronym to help provide a framework for somatically grounded, heart centered, shadow work and healing, which breaks down into 4 basic steps:

M: Mindfully notice the suffering that is present.

This is the step where we consciously tune into our experience of suffering on a somatic, emotional, and cognitive level with mindfulness. We bring our mindful attention to our bodies and notice the sensations that arise, becoming curious about them. We bring our mindful attention to our emotions and identify the different feelings that are present, being open to them. We bring our mindful attention to our thoughts, and notice the content, pace, flavor, and quality of them without judgement or following them.

A: Allow the feelings to be present.

In this step we take our mindful noticing of our suffering even further by truly accepting what our experience to is by allowing it to be. By letting go of our minds (now that we have noted our thoughts we can release them with gratitude) and allowing the felt experience of our emotions in our heart and body we give space to the shadows to be known and understood by welcoming them into the forefront of our consciousness.

P: Peel back the layers of feelings and beliefs to get to the core of our present suffering.

After we become mindful of our suffering, and allow it to be, we are ready to work with our heart to understand our suffering. With gentleness and compassion ask your emotion what it is believing. An answer will arise, and in this first layer of belief it may be one you are familiar with from your regular conscious experience of this suffering. With all answers that arise, allow them to be. In that allowance of the belief to be seen and heard, another emotional layer will appear in response to it. After allowing the next emotional layer to be present and felt, again ask this feeling layer what it is believing. Again, an answer will arise stating a new belief. This will again be followed by another layer of emotion. With mindful compassion, gentleness, and allowing we continue to peel back the layers of feelings and beliefs until we find the core of our suffering. This is the place of not only the core belief at the root of our suffering, but the core wound that began it. This is something you will intuitively know and feel. There will be a sense of a bottom to it, and you can recognize it often because it revolves around feeling unworthy in some way. This step is the meat of the practice and depending on the shadow we are working with and how hidden it has been from us (i.e. how many layers we need to go though to get to the core), it may go by quickly or take some dedicated sitting time.

S: Soak with self-compassion.

In this final step, after we have identified the core belief at the root of our suffering, it is time for healing this wounded aspect of self with self-compassion. There may be tears, perhaps a lot of them. There may be moaning and/or sounding. There may be the desire to punch a pillow or stomp your feet. There may be exhaustion and silence. In whatever way it is that your heart wants to express this core wounding, allow it. By allowing and witnessing this expression, you begin to release the emotional energy of the suffering, freeing yourself from it. When the expression has come to its completion, you now have the honor and opportunity of becoming your own source of compassion and healing. By placing a hand on our heart with a compassionate touch and speaking to yourself in a compassionate tone, offer yourself the compassion that you need to hear and receive. This could look like acknowledging the suffering, and the pain of this core wound and the core belief that arose from it. It may include offering yourself forgiveness and understanding. It may be the offering of loving words and affirmations to yourself. It may involve the recognition of how this suffering is common to humanity. It may be the declaration of a commitment to more deeply love, accept and protect yourself in the area of this wounding. Listen to your heart for guidance, as it speaks through you and acts as both the source and recipient of your compassion. The heart will let you know what it needs.

When this process feels complete, continue to listen to your heart. What do you need next? How does your self-compassion continue outside of this sitting practice? Whether your heart guides you to make a cup of tea and watch a movie, to take a shower or a bath, to go out into nature, or to call a family member or friend, continue to strengthen your connection to your “heartuition” and deepen your healing and integration process by listening to the wisdom of your own heart.


Written by Alicia Sunflower of Sacred Spiral Healing Arts
Counselor · Medicine Womxn · Artist

Energy Forms & How to Set Them

Each morning I take healing walks. During my walks I set a series of energy forms that are particularly helpful for keeping us balanced and processing amidst the tremendous social, emotional, spiritual, political, and environmental upheaval and change of our current time.

These forms came from the beings Kwan Yin, Miriam, and Leah (not me), channeled by my long-time mentor Linda Crawford, an empathic healer and therapist in Massachusetts. These forms are equipped to replace the energetic grounding practices many of us have used for decades (rooting into the Earth) when Earth herself is in a state of massive change. These times call for a grounding tool that can be stable amidst massive change and movement. One of these forms is gyroscopic. If you haven’t ever seen a gyroscope look up a video, it’s spinning keeps it steady even when it’s axis tips or it hops to another location.

To set the forms:
I have described a visual of the forms below. Imagine the visual in your mind’s eye, then allow the mode(s) you experience energy to confirm your setting of the forms.  For example you may experience energy in pictures, little movies, energetic/physical sensations, colors, sounds or words, scents, or taste. Visualizing the energy form in your mind’s eye is all you need to set the forms, and don’t be surprised if you get your own sensations that accompany it. I like to set my forms as I walk. It feels important to my process and growth to work at this spiritual level while also moving physically through the world. However, you may find it is much easier to concentrate on setting the forms while in a seated meditation or stillness. Experiment with what works for you.  You could even pair each one with a yoga asana that embodies the energy you feel from it.

Form 1: Pranic Tube/Central Power Core
See/feel/locate a circular column of white light 3” in diameter reaching from the heavens down along your spinal column and down into the core of the earth. At your heart feel a tuning chamber of unconditional love and acceptance, that tunes all this white light/charged pranic life-force energy and sends it out to all parts of your body.

Form 2: Universal Heart Chakra (the gyroscopic form)
Between your heart and solar plexus chakras place a basketball-sized spinning golden ball of light, with a denser band of golden light at its vertical midpoint. Notice that as you move this Universal Heart Chakra stays steady.

Form 3: Labradorite Form
From the crown of your head to the base of your spine (in the same geographic location but on another dimensional level than the Pranic Tube/Central Power Core) set the form of a 4” square column of Labradorite-colored light (think winking greens, blues, golds, and oranges within a base of translucent deep grey). At both the crown and base of the spine a hopper shape flares out from the square column parallel to your shoulders and hips. These hoppers would appear triangular when viewing you from the front or back and have a shallower (4”) side profile. Once the hoppers are set ask to connect your Labradorite form to the Labradorite Net or Web, which has been with Earth since her beginnings and connects you to all those beings working to bring forward the Divine Feminine on Earth throughout all times, levels, dimensions and lifetimes.

Using the Forms:
Now your forms are set! You are ready to do any healing/balancing work you need to through them. To do this I use whatever is up for me at the moment. These forms will help you balance literally EVERYTHING!!! It can be current events, anxiety, shame, anger, gratitude, joy, power dynamics, hopes, I dedicate all that I am working with through these forms.  Even through the INSANITY, massive flux, and chaos of what is happening in the world with the presidency, white supremacy, xenophobia, famine, sexism, and environmental devastation—all very much up in our collective for us to face and heal in heal in humanity and in relationship—I am able to keep my personal balance through the use of these forms.

How to do it:
When you notice a pattern, a thing out of balance, a physical discomfort, or a strong feeling (I dedicate gratitude and joy too, to benefit the collective!)  Say the following:

“I dedicate this _____ to and through the web, for the benefit, blessing, and healing of all beings who may take benefit and blessing from it throughout all times, levels, dimensions and lifetimes for the greater good of all.”

Often my first dedication scratches the first layer of the thing and will start a release of emotion. I continue with what emerges from that layer until I get to the foundation/root of the pattern. After I am done with setting my forms I journal each dedication I made, this helps you to ground the work allows you to grow in your use of the forms and track what you are working with. Much of what needs to be worked through in this current time are distortions of Ignorance, Intolerance, and Power. So, you can add this to the dedication too, starting with:

“I dedicate the ignorance, intolerance, and power related to____to and through the web…”

When you do this work know that you are healing a pattern for yourself and the collective simultaneously. I imagine it as a dual-ended violet flame of healing that burns both inward and outward simultaneously. When something triggers me in the news, I do inner work related to it, for example:

“I dedicate all parts of myself that turn those in need of help away, distance myself from others, or build walls to protect myself to and through the web…”

And I also work with the outward distortions so I am healing both the piece of the pattern I hold personally and part of the collective pattern to ease the balancing and shifting of that pattern in the world.


Written by Leah Nguyen, Artist-Healer and Creator of Planet Paint People.

One Question That Will Change Your Relationship With Yourself

I showed up to yoga, stressed to the max with everything I had to do. I had talks to give, taxes to do, people to get back to, a book to complete, and a blog article to write. As my yoga instructor was guiding us through her sequence, I found myself cycling between feeling overwhelmed about how I was going get everything done, what I should write my blog article about, and trying to remind myself that I needed to be present.

When suddenly I had an epiphany.

I realized that with my crazy workload, that I was treating myself in the same way my parents treated me. Growing up the mantra was to work hard, and if you weren’t good enough, it was because you weren’t working hard enough. There was no room for taking a breath. There was no room for fun and play. There was no room for acceptance of myself just for being me. Nothing I did was ever enough.

But just because my parents instilled these workaholic, you-will-never-be-enough messages on to me, it didn’t mean that I had to continue to treat myself this way.

And so in the spirit of yoga, I asked myself, ”What is the most loving thing I can do for myself right now?”

Suddenly with this one question, everything shifted for me. I realized I need to infuse this question throughout my life. I realized that asking this question would help me say no to the things I did not want to do. Asking this one question would help me have more my balance in my life. Asking this one question would help me forgive myself when I do things I regret. Asking this one question would help me better recover from loss. This question is a profound expression of self-compassion.

There are many other benefits to self-compassion. An increasing body of research is showing that self-compassion foster’s mental health. When we realize we are all human, and thus will make mistakes and even fail, it becomes easier to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and get back on our feet again. So many of us beat ourselves up when we make mistakes or fail, and that only takes us into a downward spiral of self-loathing, and increases our stress. Alternatively, when we exercise self-compassion in those moments, we can focus on how to do better next time. Self compassion breeds resilience.

Self-compassion also helps us recover from loss. We might be good at being there for others when they experience loss, but struggle to do it for ourselves. Learning to treat ourselves as if we were our own best friend, will help us deal better with loss and move on.

My answer to this question was that I needed to limit the amount of time I spend on each task, and to make sure I prioritize my need for rest and renewal. Just by making this decision alone, I felt an enormous amount of relief! My new goal is not perfection with my work, but practicing self-compassion in the face of imperfection.

So in the spirit of the upcoming Valentine’s Day, I invite you to express love towards yourself by practicing self compassion. You can do this with one simple question sprinkled through the day. Make sure you have the question handy when you feel stressed, have experienced a loss, or feel inadequate.

The question is:

What is the most loving thing I can do for myself right now?

Has this question inspired any insights? How do you think it will change your life?

Please share in the comments below!


This post was written by Collective member Dr. Tina Huang of Lifelong EnerJoy.  If you would like more support in expressing self-compassion, Tina has a relationship detox to empowerment program that might be a good fit for you. Learn more about it here and contact her here to schedule a complementary consultation.