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Joy, Pain, + The Medicine of Connection

Joy, Pain, + The Medicine of Connection

The first time I felt a twinge in my left shoulder was around six months ago, right around the time I first heard of a thing called “frozen shoulder”.

I was reading A Really Good Day by Ayelet Waldman to learn more about micro-dosing for depression and anxiety and in it, she talked about her frozen shoulder, the pain, the process.

At night, rolling my spine along my foam roller, when I lifted my arms above my head, it felt intense. Like a resistance to a range of motion. A stop. I noticed, and tried to pay more attention to my shoulder, tried to put down my phone more and stretch during long sessions with my laptop keyboard.

I was feeling good. It’s been an epically joyful summer. And, in no small part a gift of microdosing. Finally, being able to get a handle on how to harness the power of plant medicines, primarily psilocybin and cannabis, I’ve been able to find a kind of balanced functioning, a flow state, that I never knew was possible. I’ve remembered my access points to joy from, maybe another life, from wisdom that’s much older than me.

Medicinal plants carry the knowledge of the earth.

One of the effects of entheogenic medicines is the gift of source/earth wisdom. The wisdom is a kinesthetic experience of the connection of all things, a reminder that earth and plants are sentient and carry actual data that can be transmitted through consumption. Solid data about what it really feels like to be human. What it means to have joy, pleasure, and the gift of life versus the pressure to earn your living.

So, all in all, the results of these protocols have been powerful and transformative and expansive beyond my expectations.

However, shit still happens.

There’s a book title I once saw called “After The Ecstasy, The Laundry”.

Words to fucking live by.

Pretty sure they based that title on the older Buddhist adage, “Before I became enlightened, I chopped wood and carried water. After I became enlightened, I chopped wood and carried water.”

You get the drift.

No matter how high-minded, open-hearted, flexible, grounded, nourished, held, blissed, sexed, nutrient dense we become, shit still happens.

Aging is real. Modern life is full of things we have to digest and process. Move through and release. Energy isn’t destroyed, it’s just constantly being rearranged.

I am also a person who, between my client work, and my prison work, is entrusted with some of the tenderest stories from some of the most resilient of humans. It’s my favorite work, also, it’s a lot to carry with these literal and physical arms.

Arms are also meant to end in fingers that touch more dirt and skin than devices. My devices often become an extension of my body and it’s easy to forget there’s more.

And not everything is easily transformed. Sometimes things get stuck.

So yeah. There is no avoiding discomfort. There’s only setting ourselves up as well as possible to carry it. Creating spaces of rest, healing, and support.

Our own stories and losses from our lineage will always surface.

If we open our hearts to help heal the suffering of others, sometimes we will carry some of their things too.

It’s part of the glorious package of this human life and an important piece of the conversation around “self-improvement” and “wellness”. One of the most important things that any of us can do to improve our health is to stop expecting that if we do enough of the good stuff that all discomfort will stop.

It won’t.

Hopefully, what will stop is the metric ton of judgments that often come raining in during a crisis. I’m not immune. The pain feels like weakness, and the weakness feels like failure. My brain starts to churn up scenes, stories from the past to collaborate the story of my shortcomings, the unfairness of the world, and how alone I am. Isolation, disconnect. The suffering of the suffering.

But, with practice and vigilance, that can be interrupted.

Recently that shit was interrupted for me by a giant sequoia in the park where I run.

Trees are good like that.

My shoulder was aching worse than before, but I was still trying to stay in motion, walking circles around the green, saying thank you to the trees between bemoaning “I’m drowning”.

Listen, the last year has been heavy. I am much fire and am in wild and dramatic transformation and hustle mostly all of my life. Some stuff has cycled up and moved out. The eclipse was no fucking joke.

So I’m in this park and pause to lean up against one of my favorite giant sequoias. “I’m drowning”, I say in my head. Again.

“No,” says the tree.

I know I know I’m talking to trees. I annoy myself too. But it is what it is. REVERENCE FOR THE SENTIENCE OF MOTHER EARTH OR DIE. My commitment to swagger is just going to have to take a seat for a sec.

“No. You’re not drowning. You’re standing upright on solid ground. You are surrounded by support and infinite beauty,” said the Sequoia.

And so I was.

An indisputable truth.

So I switched the pronouns, made that shit a mantra and said it to myself for the rest of my walk.

“I am not drowning. I am standing upright on solid ground. I am surrounded by support and infinite beauty.”

The next morning I woke up unable to move. Every shift in my body caused tears. The pain felt unbearable, every movement shot stabbing pains through my entire body. Every breath caused me to cry out, more tears. Terror.

I started out with small asks. Asking my son to make me coffee, fill my water, and get himself to school on the bus. Asking my housemate to bring a chair to my space that would hold me in both comfort and structure. Reaching out to my friends to bring their medicine. Food, juice, heating pad, painkillers, acupuncture, ionic foot bath, herbs… I have the most amazing friends.

Proof positive that I am truly surrounded by support and infinite beauty.

Still indisputable. Even in pain. Even in the mind lock of weakness and fear. Even in the face of the evidence that, as a scrappy AF single mother, I really am alone, I am not.

In some ways, maybe yes. But it’s not the whole story.

I am not actually alone.

It took almost six hours to get my pain managed so I could breathe and rest a little.

It’s a mythic experience getting to the other side of something.

I even reached out on Facebook. Which isn’t easy. I get overwhelmed with a lot of advice. I get overwhelmed with anxiety when I get close to what I arbitrarily imagine is my allotment of attention. The amount I’m “allowed” to need more than I offer. But I needed the support to be evident, and I know the advice to be either helpful or at least, a genuine offer of care. And people showed up so beautifully.

They often do, when we let them when we release expectations that they show up in a particular way.

My toolkit, as a health coach, is pretty well developed. I’m fortunate to have much medicine at my disposal.

I kicked up my cannabis protocol from microdosing to treatment levels of THC tincture and CBD tincture. I kicked up my daily adaptogenic herbs and chlorophyll, ashwagandha, Cordyceps, vitamins, and minerals.

My incredibly smart yoga teaching cousin gave me stretches, which I did all day long as I could.

I used heat and ice alternatively and ate light, inflammatory free meals.

I used music. I stayed in motion. I rested.

After three days I’m back to eighty percent. Which is kind of miraculous as far as frozen shoulder goes.

I’m not out of the woods. My body, as it ages, as I grow as a person and enter my years as a wiser, older woman, a deeper force of nature, needs more support than ever. So the work to stay strong around alignment will continue.

I’m profoundly fucking humbled by this body. It’s ability to filter and inform. How it handles pain and its passage through my system. Allowing the pain to eviscerate, excavate, and clear.

When we can practice moving through uncertainty and discomfort, we get better at it. It’s a kind of maturity to know impermanence in your bones. But the lessons of impermanence are rarely pleasant.

The lessons of impermanence live in our trauma.

I stand by the belief that healing ourselves, our families, our culture is possible. I don’t know if it’s probable. I’m not sure it matters. But I’d rather die fighting for the planet and its pleasures than acquiesce to the deadly disconnect of the systems that enslave us.

“Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage. Rage against the dying of the light.” – Dylan Thomas

Thank you all for being here. Your presence in my life is, in no small part, a meaningful web of connectivity. There is so much joy where we intersect.

You are so dearly loved.

Resources:

Kerry Mann Wellness – biomat + ionic foot baths
Devin Manning Acupuncture
Grace Ames – Chef + Yoga Teacher
Rachael Rice – Artist + Writer 
Marybeth Bonfiglio – Writer + Tarot
Cascadia Herbals – Wellness Tinctures
Modern Medicinals – CBD
Siskyou Sungrown – Cannabis Oil
Life Equals – Supplements (use code WOR50 for discount on subscriptions)
Moon Juice – Adaptogenic herbal blends
Chloroxygen – Plant blood
Ashwagandha – Adaptogenic powerhouse
Cordyceps – Mushroom Tincture (not psychedelic)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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