Never Give Up on Healing
It can take years or it can happen in a dream
This is Miss Claire, my cactus/not a cactus (more on that later). I bought her when I moved to NYC in 2003. She was about 2-3 ft. tall, and she rode home with me in a taxi.
She seemed happy and content for many years. I would string twinkle lights and hang ornaments on her during the holidays, and she didn’t seem to mind.
One day, I noticed Claire looked sickly. She had awful spots on her, and I had no idea what was wrong. I had an assistant at the time helping me with my business, and she knew a lot about plants. She suggested we take her out of the pot and put her in the shower.
I was surprised at how small the root ball was. We brushed all the dirt off and laid her on a sheet, and carefully carried her into the bathtub, where we showered her off.
It looked like a crime scene.
I scrubbed out the pot and put fresh soil in it. We hauled Claire out of the tub and repotted her. We had to put a hook in the wall and tie her to it because she was getting so top-heavy.
Well, Miss Claire healed and thrived again. In 2015 I moved across the Mighty Mahicanituk (The Hudson River) to Jersey City.
The movers carefully placed Claire in a refrigerator box and put her on the truck last.
Even though Claire and I had moved from a corner apartment with eight huge windows to a space with fewer north-facing windows, she seemed to settle in just fine. The ceiling was eleven feet high, so she had space to grow. She thrived.
In 2020, on the day of my move to New Hampshire, the movers came in, looked at Claire (and my gigantic fig tree), and asked, “Do you want us to move them, too?”
It was a traumatic move for both plants - their big pots broke during the ride, so while new pots had to be found, they lay outside. In the rain. It was November, but fortunately a warm day.
The fig (named Jack because he’s like a beanstalk now) settled in upstairs and happily wanders above among the beams.
But Claire lay outside in the rain for two days amidst the stress and chaos of moving until I finally managed to drag her into the house. I had to wait for my friend and her husband to come and help me get her upstairs and into a new pot.
Well, Claire was too tall for this sweet little house, and we had to cut about two feet off the top of her. I cried, and she was not happy. She had been thrust, once again, into a totally new living situation. She now faced Southwest.
My beloved cactus (not a cactus) looked sickly for over a year. Many times I considered laying her to rest in the woods, but I just couldn’t do it.
And then, one day, I saw the tiniest new bright green growth sprouting from her arms. She lives! I started cheering her on and just the other day noticed some significant growing/healing had been going on while I wasn’t paying attention.
Her healing has taken time.
While in my own significant healing crisis in my 50s, someone wise told me,
“It can take years for the body to reach a state of dis-ease, and it can take years for it to heal.”
Of course, there is no such thing as perfect health. We are always in a state of healing. Life happens, and no matter how much effort we put into bringing our body into balance, our outer world can make it difficult.
Toxic chemicals rain down from the sky, are in our food and in the water, and even in our clothing and skincare products. We live in a toxic world, there’s no doubt about it.
Our bodies are magnificent creations and are made to heal - when left to their own devices. But, we make it harder and harder on them. We want to pop a pill or inject more toxins into our veins (yes, I said it), thinking that this will keep us healthy, but all we’re doing is laying another burden on our body to clear more toxicity.
I don’t know, this seems so simple to me, but it’s a hard one for people to accept. Parents hand out Tylenol to their kids like candy at the least little discomfort. This over-the-counter drug is only one example that shouldn’t be over-the-counter.
I’m not proselytizing here - believe me - I was there. I used to take four Motrin because monthly cramps felt like labor pains. I had raging endometriosis and didn’t know it.
Years later, a doctor put me on a drug (eventually taken off the market because it caused cancer) for a year to stop my periods and dry up the so-called “chocolate cysts” causing the pain. They were impossible to remove surgically. “It would be like removing cotton candy from peanut butter,” he said.
So, instead, I trusted my doctor and took this drug. A year later, when I stopped taking it, my mother-in-law had just died after a long illness, and the baby girl we were waiting to adopt was ready to come home.
The joy of having a new baby in the house was destroyed for me because the drug withdrawal put me into a post-partum kind of rage.
I rarely speak about this, let alone write about it. It’s still painful to think about.
Thank God I had a close friend living nearby. There were days when I would lock myself in the bathroom because I felt like a monster inside my own body. Thank God I never harmed my children. And thank God I didn’t get convinced to take another drug.
I don’t remember how long this lasted - a few months, maybe? I found another doctor - a woman - who helped me (naturally) bring my body back into balance.
Fast forward THIRTY years, and I was with my naturopath telling her that the day before, I’d been in a coffee shop, and a young couple came in with a newborn. I could see how exhausted the mother looked. The baby started to cry, and I had a horrible PTSD-like flashback to those days. I was so upset I had to leave the coffee shop.
My naturopath stopped to look at me and said, “You were put into early menopause with that drug. Didn’t they tell you that? All of your nurturing hormones were suppressed. “
I felt like thirty years of guilt (for something I had no control over) had been wiped away.
By the time I was telling this story, I was deep into another healing crisis which I’ll share another time.
A few years later, I was studying Ayurveda and had a lightbulb moment when my teacher was talking about the different energies in the body. It explained the energy of endometriosis perfectly (menstruation which should be downward energy but instead moved upward). Mostly a Vata condition.
I have no doubt that Ayurveda could have safely and gently helped bring my body back into balance at that time without taking a dangerous pharmaceutical.
I can hear some of you saying, “But, Barbara. I need antidepressants to function.” “I have migraines and need…” “My mother is alive because of chemotherapy.” Etc. etc.
What I’m trying to say is two-fold. First of all, our body naturally knows how to heal. We seem to have lost the ability or the confidence even to know our own body and how to listen to it. Its signals. Its needs.
Instead, we rely on a man or woman in a white coat to tell us whether we’re healthy or not. Blood tests, mammograms, and on and on.
Or, we reach for that quick fix pill to suppress the symptoms without considering what might be the cause.
I hear more protests from some of you. And, yes, I know there are always exceptions. But, just consider how much of our power we’ve given away.
Second of all, I personally believe that using the whole plant or herb in healing is preferable to a chemical drug where only part of a plant has been isolated. The plant is wise. The drug, not so much.
And also, most ancient systems of healing deal with the body, mind, and spirit and work to heal, not just to suppress symptoms.
If you think allopathic medicine is about healing, I respectfully disagree with you. It’s a system of sick care and big business.
That’s not to say that all doctors and other health care professionals are in it just for the money or that they don’t care about their patients. Not at all. I know many good-hearted people in the medical profession. Some are family members.
I’m talking about the system. How it was born and how it continues to operate. Here’s a quick tutorial on allopathic medicine and the birth of Big Pharma.
Allopathic medicine is at least the third leading cause of death in the United States. Some speculate it might be #1. Many times these deaths are the result of prescribed pharmaceuticals.
All you have to do is watch mainstream media to see the drug pushers in action with their laundry list of side effects.
The US is one of only two countries (New Zealand is the other) where Big Pharma is allowed to advertise on television.
I would not trade all of the years I spent figuring out how to heal holistically for anything. It propelled me into another world. A better world.
I learned so much about myself. I did deep work. I became an energy healer. An Ayurvedic practitioner. Studied nutrition. Shamanism. These practices can sometimes bring about spontaneous healings that are hard for our western brains to comprehend.
I once experienced a healing in a dream. It’s still too precious and personal for me to write about. I had been dealing with persistent pain in a part of my body for months and found myself in a dream of being healed by an animal. In the morning, when I woke up, the pain was gone and never returned.
This is not how healing typically occurs, but it does happen. I was blessed to have experienced it, and I believe that in the future, we will start to see more and more healing like this.
I have had emotional issues resolved many times through shamanic journeying that I might have spent months hashing out with a therapist.
We are all different. In so many ways. Our physical bodies have different needs, as do our emotional and mental bodies.
When I was studying to become a health counselor, every day, we would have a different “expert” talking about this theory and that theory.
Veganism, the carnivore diet, dairy is good for you, dairy is bad for you. Raw food, cooked food, hot showers, cold showers, etc.
I could go on and on. They all made perfect sense hearing it from the “experts” point of view.
In the end, the greatest takeaway was that nutrition and health, in general, are not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing.
What resonated the most with me was Ayurveda. Because knowing that one size doesn’t fit all is at the core of its teachings.
Ayurveda was the system of health that has really helped me heal. Especially my physical body.
So much of it is about our daily routine. Living in sync with Nature and our circadian rhythms. Knowing our own constitution and honoring it. It’s an ancient and wise practice.
The word Ayurveda means “the science (or knowledge) of life.”
I miss writing about Ayurveda and hope to do more of it here on Substack.
Back to Miss Claire for a second. Several months ago, I had some friends over for dinner. I was telling her story to one of my guests, and when I said the word “cactus,” he said that he didn’t think Claire was a cactus! What?!
I got out my plant ID app, and I’ll be damned; he was right! Miss Claire is a succulent, not a cactus. Euphorbia trigona ‘Rubra’ AKA African Milk Tree, AKA Good Luck Plant!
Cactus or succulent, when I look at her, I think about her patience with the healing process. Sunshine, just the right amount of water, and occasionally being sung to seem to have helped her turn the corner.
So, Sing. Dance (naked in the rain, if you can!) Walk in the woods. Eat healthy, unprocessed food but don’t be so restrictive that the joy goes out of eating. Make friends with the plants. Breathe deeply. Drink pure water. Take off your sunglasses and let sunlight hit your eyes (just don’t stare directly at it, please). Put your phone down. Turn it off. Go to bed early. Meditate. Or not. Eat your biggest meal at noon. Do things you loved to do as a child. Know yourself and listen to your body.
This is just a partial list of my own healing suggestions. But, do what works best for YOU.
Take back your power. Your medical sovereignty. No one, I mean no one, has the right to tell you what to do with or to your body.
And don’t be afraid to ask for assistance with healing before you go to bed at night. Whether it’s God or Goddess or angels or animal spirit guides you ask for help, we are not alone.
Healing often takes place during or after a dark night of the soul. An illness. A death. A loss of something or someone. If you can find the Grace in it, the reason, the lesson, I promise you will find healing, and your soul will rejoice because your soul wants you to grow and be who you are meant to be in this lifetime.
You are amazing!
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