We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog post…

So this is off-topic for me.

In August I had to have a biopsy – and everything is fine, no worries.

But it raised more questions for me about my doctor’s practice and what it means to be pro-active in light of insurance costs and the level of support you may or not receive for being pro-active.

To save space, I’m going to bullet-point a timeline

July 

  • Mammogram shows “something” and I have to repeat it.
  • My physician, a breast cancer survivor, tells me it could be microcalcification but protocol would be radiation and chemo (Tamoxifil) for 5 years. But it might not be.
  • All I hear is “chemo and radiation” and that my hair won’t fall out. I worry about what happens to mom if something happens to me. (Yes, overreaction)

August

  • Meet with surgeon, he is very reasonable and says 80/20 it’s nothing but needs to be biopsied because I haven’t had a mammogram in six years.
  • I refuse to be shamed, and remind him he just told me that it could’ve been there six years ago or six weeks ago. And that there is no history in my family. I am feeling confident this is not cancer.
  • Show up for what is billed to me as a simple biopsy with a local anesthesia. I am clamped to the table. After 35 minutes they determine they cannot do it like this because the microcalcifications lie on a blood vessel.
  • Leave hospital and get to work. Get phone call my mom’s fallen and rush her to the other hospital where we spend the day in the ER
  • Worry about what is going on with mom’s falling every two weeks, email brother and sister to please either come home and be with mom while I am out of commission (sister) or visit her and be able to take her to ER if necessary (brother.)
  • Receive self-help cd’s from sister, with cheery note that Universe will reward me for caring for my parents. Brother refuses. Period.
  • Write letter to Staff Nurse at mom’s facility, explaining situation and asking them to call my cousin in emergency. Cousin agrees to spend day with mom.
  • Show up for surgery. Get a guide wire inserted with a local (1 hour  Boob Ka Boob! They do not think I am funny) wait 3 hours for surgery (1 hour).
  • Surgeon tells my husband nothing to lose sleep over, which I am thankful for because I believed it was just an anomaly and husband was quietly freaking out)
  • Nurse calls the next day to see how I am, I say great, taking some Tylenol because pain meds are too strong. She demurs, and says I should take Advil, then I can still take the Hydrocodone. Mmmmm. No.
  • I am glad I am ok, but starting to get ticked.
  • Nurse calls and confirms the micros are “benign” but warns me that the doctor will explain what this means when I see him. Her tone of voice was a little ominous.
  • Getting more ticked because I know what “benign” means, and because I researched microcalcifications before they cut.
  • Visit surgeon who asks if nurse told me results. I say “yep, all good under the hood.” He chuckles then tells me about actuarial tables that give percentage of chance of cancer and why insurance won’t pay for MRI for me. Because, you know. I’m healthy, but still need to get a six month mammogram.
  • Visit my regular doctor. We disagree on how this all happened with the biopsy. She notes my blood pressure still higher than she likes, changes my .5 Lisinipril to .10. I say nothing because I am done with this.

I check my blood pressure all weekend – it is 133/82.

So that’s a lot of bullet points. The upshot for me is, since my regular doctor joined some large network, and went to computer/digital formats, the service aspect has fallen off. This was a woman who previously cheered and supported my holistic approach to my health. Now she is writing a higher rx for something that is probably the result of my own frustration and anger. Her nurse asked me if I had ever had a biopsy and if I was going to do the bone density testing. I hardly knew how to answer that. “Yes, I had a biopsy two weeks ago.” “What kind” she didn’t bother to look up from her computer.I wondered if I was supposed to tell her they cut, or they couldn’t do the one with the local – I forgot the name. “The kind where they check for cancer.”  “No, where” “Breast” So, yeah, I’m irritated. This is the office that ordered it six weeks ago, when I was in there.

I am not at all advocating you stop any rx without consulting your doctor. But for me, increasing this rx means it will be harder to get off of it. My plan is to cut the pills in half, monitor my BP and find a naturopath to use any herbs that may help. This is a personal decision and your experience may be different!

However, I cannot go along with something that makes me feel like I’m being funneled into an insurance and health system that only looks at the bottom line or actuarial tables for my care. I am very disappointed, but I am angry too.

 

Dream Guidance, a Process

I am following up on an exercise in Robert Moss’s book Conscious Dreaming. I am only a couple chapters into the book so this isn’t a book review, just an example of an exercise and how I am working with it.

One of the reasons I am working more fully with my dreams at this time, is an effort to heal the anger and frustration that is simmering within me. This is a result of parental caretaking over that last two years, dealing with medical and insurance paperwork, and a lifetime of people pleasing/not saying “no”/not believing in myself patterns.

So I am incubating dreams on this subject of healing that pattern. I am boiling the situation down to this phrase “I want direction and guidance on healing the anger and self-deprecating patterns in order to fully enjoy my life.” That actually took some time to figure out.

Let me stop right here and say that in this book, Mr. Moss will do exactly this: state the problem he wishes to receive guidance on, then he proceeds to tell us the symbols and coincidences that validate the dream or answer his questions. He says that the answers may not come immediately, but the answers he receives are clear to him, and provide guidance. What he doesn’t write, is about all the symbols and signs that are false-starts. I am telling you this because I don’t want anyone to think that I get instant perfect answers. No one does, and Mr. Moss doesn’t write about all the “maybe this” “maybe that” signs that appear. That would be boring and confusing.

So, the first two nights of dreaming had a pattern of “tables.” The first night had a black and red one that I loved that was empty, and while I was admiring it, a tall woman snapped at me that I wasn’t paying attention to her. The second night, there were many tables involved in my work, all filled with lovely crafts made by others, but with no room for me.

*My take on this is trying to find “my” table for myself – my space.

Now last night was a horse of different color.

I have always titled my dreams, written them out, then recorded any feelings that they evoked at the time I dreamed them. This is in line with the exercise in the book. So, here is:

Peggy Lost the Fighting Tarantulas.

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My friend Peggy from work, is in a kitchen space that looks very similar to the one in the house I grew up in. The lighting is dim, it feels like evening. I am watching Peggy crouch down. She has two tarantulas, one dark and one that is tan and brown. She wants them to fight. I am hyper alert, but totally still because I do not like spiders and what is she doing with two tarantulas, anyway?

The tarantulas are pretty much ignoring each other, then with her hand, she brushes the tan one into the dark one to provoke a fight. The two bristle and show their fangs and grow to the size of baseballs.

I internally want to scream and feel my eyes growing wide at this.
Something in the other room distracts me. In my old house, this is the dining room area, and I am aware of people in the dining and living rooms. I step out to deal with something, then return. Peggy has lost sight of the tarantulas. “Oh well” she shrugs. She steps away. Now I am very worried. Where are they? In what crevice or dark corner are they lurking?

The people have made these crochet/knitted type of barriers, they are about 18” tall and are to fit across each of the three doorways. I am holding a bright blue one, with three doll heads and strands of yarn hanging down. We hope the tarantulas will come out and get on these yarn barriers and be caught.

  • I am afraid of spiders,
  • My friend Peggy is notoriously unorganized and lets daily tasks slide in favor of reading or anything else. In her defense, she did have a small stroke a couple years ago.
  • I know the shamanic meaning of tarantula includes trusting your intuition, balancing strength and weakness.
  • I don’t care. I am still afraid of spiders.
  • I am highly organized and efficient
  • I am afraid of conflict but will fight for what I believe in
  • Then I will be exhausted and second-guess myself.

In following up on your dreams – since this was less than clear to me, probably because of my throbbing fear of tarantulas – I stated my intention that the first odd thing I saw, would be an answer to what the dream meant.  This is where it gets tricky. I am now alert for signs. On my dawn patrol walk I encountered:

  • A nice looking young man running with no shirt on. Very unusual but not at all sure this meant anything.
  • Man teaching his German Shepherd to fetch and come. My first thought “You have to leash your dog in this park, glad I didn’t bring Miss Penny.” Only fit my OCD problem with following rules.
  • I wore tan outfit to work, I just realized this as I am writing, am I the tarantula?

 

I am going to marinate this for awhile and see if my dream is showing me that I have gotten pushed into some “fight or flight” adrenaline over home stuff or old stuff. Tonight I will ask for clarification on this. I appreciate the dream showing me what is, but I want to see the guidance. It’s a process, so I am not giving up on this theme. I really want the Universe to show me some Out-Of-Box thinking to get my life back on a joyful track.

 

Sidewalk Oracles

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I want to recommend  Sidewalk Oracles by Robert Moss. I first heard about him through some friends, who were also interested in the messages we receive from dreams. Mr. Moss has studied dreams and dreaming,  and based on my friends’ recommendation, I read Dreamgates earlier this year.

And because I tend toward OCD on subjects, I ordered several other of his books. (Book-aholics! Please check out Better World Books for free shipping and to help their literacy project.)

I have always been a strong dreamer and have kept a journal that includes my dreams, for many, many years. Dreams have always fascinated me and I often receive helpful, albeit sometimes cryptic, information from them. I will let you know how the two other books are when I finish them.

So back to this one.

Sidewalk Oracles is an easy read, I was able to finish it over a weekend. There’s a lot of Mr. Moss’s personal story interspersed throughout the book, but it gives you a framework for the information he presents. The meat of the book, for me, was the chapter on asking for, and recognizing, the everyday oracles that are available.

If you’re into this kind of material, you won’t be too surprised by the content. But, I learned new things and new ways of receiving information and validations. If you’re on the cusp about this, check out Robert Moss’s blog and website. He is also on Facebook and posts some of his blog material there.

 

 

More Ancestors

I continue my exploration down the Ancestor Lane.

A couple weeks ago I randomly thought of my grandfather’s two brothers. They both died pretty young, one before my mom was born, so that’s the early thirties. Other than names, I had no information on them. I sat with the “random thought” for a day or so to see where this might lead. Sometimes these things go away.

It didn’t. It didn’t become a full-blown mania, like the time I emailed my great-aunt’s picture to about 30 convents in the Ohio/ Pennsylvania area, in my quest to find out more about her.

But, the thought persisted.

When I stopped to visit my mom, I asked her about these men. She said John died quite young and Anthony and Jeff (my grandpa) were close. She remembered him being around when they lived in Dayton during her first grade. But, he died shortly after. She had no real memory of his looks or voice.

When in doubt, I ask for direction. In my experience, long-dead relatives don’t just pop in to say hello, they generally need something, or recognize YOU need something. Since these gentlemen had been gone awhile, that may be why my impressions from them were extremely subtle, but strong enough for their energy to be recognized.  I have a lot of beloved dead, as do we all, but there was enough of …something… for me to discern them.

monasteryAnyway, after a few days I had the thought to go to the local monastery and light a white candle for each of them. Why this action? I played 20 questions a couple times, mentally asking “how about this?” “what about if I do that?” The candle at the monastery brought a peaceful reaction. Again, nothing was really strong about this experience. The monastery worked, I think, because the family was Irish Catholic and a couple of the women were nuns.

Why do the dead contact us?

In my case, I am looking for help to release some patterns that may (or may not) be a family pattern. I like to keep an open mind, after all. And so far, I’m not getting relief from my “go-to” practices: exercise, breathing, reading, meditating, pretending nothing is wrong. So – I am asking the ancestors for guidance. It is not surprising to receive not-so-random thoughts. They inspire me to be aware of help. Shortly after this experience, I dreamed I was being chased, near the house I grew up in. The scene shifted to the inside, where two men, back-lit by golden light, were there to protect me.

What does honoring the Ancestors entail?

I have an Ancestor Altar on my sacred tools altar. Yes, I am doubling up, but it’s a space issue. Three altars are a lot for one room. Anyway, in the dedicated ancestor space are items that mean something to me, most of them came from journeying. Every morning, since early summer, I sit with the ancestors, those of my blood, of my spirit and of my soul. I smudge the area with Palo Santo smoke and thank them for living well, and dying well, and for the guidance they give me. I am the result of a thousand acts of love. As we all are. And it’s in both of our best interests for me to succeed in my life. Then I ask them to guide me in releasing these patterns. I have a particular Tarot Deck that I draw cards from when I am with them. It’s like a Cliff Notes version of a conversation.

A second experience

My second venture with the ancestors was with my Grandmother Anna. This is my dad’s mom. She died two months before I was born. This is kind of funny: she died in 1958 and I am going to be 58 on my next birthday, so it’s been 58 years since she walked this plane.  I had never been to her grave. One reason was, I thought she was buried in a different cemetery, and it wasn’t all that close. I used to visit the beloved dead on my birthday, to give thanks and honor them. Of course, that’s the day before Halloween, so a win for me that the veil is thin around that time of year.

Anyway, I used Gravefinder.com to find her correct cemetery and Google maps to get me there on my lunch hour. I took her white carnations. It was actually a lovely headstone, and talking to her brought some tears up, so there’s some healing there.

She actually came to me in a dream shortly after my dad died. She was quite radiant, so I know she crossed over well and I have confidence that she will give me proper guidance as I move forward.

What does this mean?

It means the dead are never removed from us. The ancestors have a vested interest in our well-being, and can be a valuable source of support and guidance. A caveat: not all ancestors lived or died well. Discernment is the key when you call on ancestors, just as with any entity from the spirit world.

Managing Expectations

I have a lot of expectations.

I didn’t think that was true, but when I stopped and thought about it, I realized that almost all my assumptions and decisions are based on a set of expectations.

I expect hot water when I turn on the shower.

I expect the coffee maker to work.

Rephrase it, and it’s more like “I assume I will have hot water. I assume the coffee maker will work. I expect to have coffee in the morning.”

I “assume things” based on past experiences. I think we all do (maybe I am assuming here, too.)

When our expectations aren’t met, you get to choose from a long buffet of emotional reactions that, hopefully, lead to a constructive plan of action. Or not. We’ve all been the witness to some spectacular toddler meltdowns over small issues. Small to us, not to the toddler, obviously. Watching such a meltdown can cause a visceral reaction for any spectator.

Anyway, I normally handle things pretty evenly, and I say this, based on the assumption that I have: A) gotten enough sleep regularly, B) eaten normally i.e., regular meals of real food and C) am maintaining some kind of exercise for my body and relaxation for my mind.Shout out to All About Healthy Choices

Losing out on any of those components will throw off my perspective and cause me to mentally make a mountain out of a molehill. And while my meltdowns are not as spectacular as a two-year old’s , they are still damaging to me because I am internalizing a wicked dialogue accompanied by strong emotions. So, I might as well be drinking acid.expections

Case in point: My sister is coming home

My sister lives 400 miles away, and visits twice a year, for approximately 36 hours. This has gone on for several years, encompassing the time my dad was ill and dying. She has traveled world-wide, both alone and with her family, and is not tied down by a job or her teenage sons.

I told her mom really needed more company, and that I was overwhelmed with the many post-hospital appointments that I had to miss work for. Awwww….she felt bad she couldn’t be here to help. I received two Mala bracelets blessed by the Buddhist monastery, and a renewal of the Health and Happiness Candle she lit for me.

Were my expectations met: Yes, my sister lived down to my expectations.

Is this a passive-aggressive post: Yes, I am not above that, Sorry.

Am I having a wicked internal dialogue and choking on my acid reflux: No, because I have done A, B and C above.

Now my buffet of choices is simple: do I carve time out of my day to see my sister, knowing I am making a choice to do so, and to not be an asshole to her? Or do I not worry about this choice because no one else is.

best choiceThe smartest thing someone told me recently was, it was not my responsibility to fix every thing for everyone. So we’ll see. I am not stressing about it.

 

 

 

Ho’onoponopono – Forgiveness and Gratitude

 

My friend turned me on to this practice. It is a Hawaiian practice of forgiveness and gratitude. This is the wording and it is like a mantra:

  • I am sorry.
  • Please forgive me.
  • I love you.
  • Thank you.

On the surface, this seems like a pretty simple practice. It is. But is has profound results. (read more about ho’onoponopono here.)

Gratitude is a practice, which means there will be ups and downs. Same thing with forgiveness. It’s when you’re “down” that you – meaning me – need it the most.

This is also a forgiveness practice, something that is really hard for me, since when I feel aggrieved, the last thing I want to do, is forgive someone. I want them to suffer terribly. But so far, the only person suffering has been me. This reminds me that other people think about me, much less than I think about them. Fodder for another post.

So, back to the Ho’onoponopono. The idea here is to picture the person you’re mad at, or who is mad at you, and say out loud or silently, the mantra. Super. Hard.

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The first time I tried this, I actually thought blood would run from my eyes, so I modified it, saying the words to the Universe in general. Eventually, I was able to visualize the person, and say the words. This is what I mean by a practice. Modify something until it works for you, then take it where you need it to go. Don’t be a sheep, take control.

I modified the Hail Mary because I like the rosary my dad gave me – there’s some science behind the tactile action of passing a bead though your fingers, and chanting. I just felt I worded things better, for me.

Yes, I am a control freak, but it works for me.

Back to Ho’onoponopono. I took mom to the ER Sunday and while we were there, there was plenty of time to repeat the words. Like, four hours of time, which is actually pretty good considering our usual stay is upward of six hours. WIN! It kept my mind occupied and in a place of compassion and patience, both for my mom and for the staff. Mostly it stopped me from returning to the “rut-thinking” that gets mad at my siblings for not caring about our mom.

So here’s another benefit, when you feel yourself returning to the broken record – “no one helps” “why me” – try this forgiveness practice. Eventually you will rewire your thinking and it will not be automatic that you return to the broken record thought process.

Finally, whenever I can, I offer this practice to myself. In the end, we tend to most hard and condemning of ourselves, and often we are projecting our own wounds onto others. In this light, I offer myself forgiveness and gratitude. After all, so far I’ve survived 100% of my worst and crappiest days.

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Who are you listening to?

I was following a conversation on social media (lurking). The writer expressed concern over the tone of our political process. Could this mood of fear and anger be released? Is there an answer ? How do we move forward?

90% of the replies included aspects of “think positive” “embrace love” and “good triumphs.” A small minority felt that while positive thought was a good thing, it needed to be backed up with action, that simply wishing away the “bad things” didn’t make it happen.

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I am in the small minority section. Keeping peace in your heart and compassion in your soul is 100% “a good thing” and not just for your blood pressure. But stopping there is like blessing the spoiled milk in your refrigerator and then drinking it. It’s still going to make you ill. Because it’s spoiled milk.

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This attitude, that if you’re perpetually IN THE LIGHT, that all will be well, ranks right there with my opinion of “do what you love and the money will follow.” You have to make a difference. It’s the same with magic, yes intent is 90% of the work, but there’s that 10% that you have to actually get off your rear-end and do the work. That might mean, networking the heck out of everyone to get the job that you will love, or it might mean fertilizing and weeding the garden you planted or it might mean working at the grass-roots level of a political process to ensure the change you want to see.

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So back to the conversation. There were many thoughtful replies, but there was also a die-hard person who insisted that even talking about this, brought in negative vibrations. This person insisted, in shorter and shorter replies, that anything remotely dark or negative, should be avoided at all costs.

Now, if you’re familiar with pagan circles you know there’s a strong element within most traditions of acknowledging that there is darkness, (not a devil, that is a Christian concept). Period. It exists in many forms. (John Lasher Lamb wrote of archons  for more information see “Not in His Image”)

Shamanism works with energies and spirits, and encountering a dark or angry spirit is just a reality. They exist. But you don’t ignore them and hope they go away. You go to someone who can deal with them. Or you do it yourself.

By the end of the conversation, the die-hard was telling people to ask The Council of Fire and another entity, I don’t remember the name. Because they had given him the instructions and all could benefit from their answers.

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This comes to my second point. Who are you listening to? There’s a ton of channeled information out there, from the Seth Material to Michael to  A Course in Miracles. Not all channeled material is equal or of a high vibration. It’s like your TV, lots of channels, various content.

I surely support each of us on our path, whatever deities we may embrace or compassionate allies may walk with us. But there are tricky energies out there and they can be smooth operators. They’ll tell you what you want to hear and lead you down the garden path. And they’re not all discarnates. We’ve all met a snake-oil salesman in various forms. No different on the spirit plane.

 

Names and Labels

I belong to some Facebook groups about shamanism

There’s a great deal of information posted in these groups and I’ve learn a lot, particularly from comments shared.

Shamanism has really come forward as a healing modality, and with it has come some territorial issues. There is little argument over the basic tenet that the word “shaman” originated with the Mongolian people, and that indigenous people in South America and the American Southwest had and have, healers with similar skills.

Beyond that, there’s a lot of divergence over what is a shaman today, and who may call themselves “shamanic practitioners”, “shamans” and what is cultural appropriation.

It reminds me of the time when there were territorial spats about Wicca and Witchcraft and who was “more” true to the path.

I am not qualified to weigh in on any of these topics, since I too, am relatively new to the shamanic path, but I am not new to my path, which has wound around a lot of spiritual practices, healing modalities and life in general. So I pretty much lurk and read and learn.

I surely do not with to offend anyone with portraying myself as something I am not, yet people who have put the term “shamanic practitioner” on a business card can receive some pretty nasty remarks.

So what is this about? Are there proprietary issues with using the term “shaman”? Does it need to be trademarked? Is it about keeping a pure lineage? Is it about having to pay a lot of money to receive a certificate from a well-known teacher? or keeping the marketing sharks at bay?

I don’t know. People in the real-life group I participate with have studied with “name” teachers and have humbly shared with those of us who cannot do so. Others share teachings they’ve learned from other places. We offer healing to the community and each of us, in our own way, bring healing to those around us.

Maybe it’s our culture that wants to label everything, so it can be categorized for easy reference. And maybe what we do, really doesn’t have a label.

 

 

 

A less bitter post

Bitterness and being run down, ran through my last post. Sorry there.

So today I want to talk about cursing and soul loss

Your words have power. So do the images you see.

This week, I encountered two versions of this. download 2

 

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In the first instance, cursing – as in cursing someone – I got in the way of someone else’s anger and hostility. It doesn’t matter why or who they really should have directed this at, they directed it at me.

We’ve all been there. People project, they’re scared, whatever. But they lash out and you’re the target. Sometimes you can walk away from this, sometimes it follows you. In my case, at this time, it felt like a dark cloud of stinging bees in my chest.

Now, this is not some Woo Woo thing, this is the power of the spoken word, backed up with emotion. Very high emotion. To the point I felt I was vibrating with it. Since I was at work, and thankfully not operating heavy machinery, i.e., my car, I tried to get myself to ground, to breathe deeply and to let go.

If you’ve been involved in any type of body work: yoga, reiki, chi qong, you know that breathing correctly, fully and deeply, is very important part of getting centered and being in a place to let go. In other words, release the fight or flight feeling.

Now, I’m fully aware of all the right things to do, but I am blessed to have a shamanic community to reach out to, and so I did. I texted Lisa, and she sent healing, calm energy. Between her energy help, and my practices, I could function at work within a short time.

What if I had not done this?

I would have sat with this energy-that-did-not-belong, all day, all by myself, reliving the words, the feelings, what I should have said, blah blah blah. And even though I was pretty ok after a short time, for sure the experience stung. It was misplaced, I did not react or respond in kind, but it still had a bad effect. And this is what cursing is. You’re sitting with energy that was flung (or taken or however it came to you) at you and IT IS NOT YOURS. Now, imagine being so scattered by the emotions that you get behind the wheel of a car. This is recipe for an accident. See? curse.

The second incident – soul- loss, happened to a friend.

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He saw an online petition to stop animal cruelty, and when he clicked, a video of two young kids torturing and killing a dog, played. The adults filming were laughing and egging them on. (For the record, this was a FB video that a rescue group was trying to find the source of, to arrest the people involved, however, that was not clear on the site.)

Anyway, my friend experienced soul-loss. He was so deeply affected by the images that he could not get himself together. He couldn’t get warm, he couldn’t eat. He was deeply distressed. He also has had a lot training, and couldn’t overcome this by himself. He did ritual with his own rescue dog, to honor the soul of the dog in the video, but he was hurting.

He also reached out, to our group and to other practitioners he as worked with.

So, this is a cautionary post. Watch how you feel. Check in with yourself, especially if you spend time on social media or watching the news. What you see and hear does affect you – it affects your cells as well as your emotional well-being.

There are a zillion awesome and loving souls out there, but it only takes a couple zingers to send you into a place you don’t want to be. Find your center, find a community and be well.

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