Reclaiming vitality and joy – let’s discuss bodywork shall we?

Hello! A few weeks ago…wait, no a month ago I blogged about my journey to reclaim vitality and joy. If you missed those posts, here’s some of the topics I covered:

Blogging series on reclaiming vitality and joy!

I realized I have so much more I want to write on this topic so I’m going to continue by sharing a series of posts this week too!

Today I wanted to talk about the role that bodywork, such as acupuncture and massage, can play in restoring balance.

When I originally started this blog four years ago it was because I was dealing with a lot of intense grief, some of it experienced in this lifetime with the loss of my mom and a miscarriage, but some of it so intense that it pointed to something deeper. I realized that my body held the memory of so much grief, likely much of it ancestral, and I realized many of my woes were connected to a major shutting down of the yin, or feminine energy, in my body. I started looking into ways to get that flowing again and restore balance, and one of the first places I looked into was acupuncture. This was a natural fit, as it’s an art and science designed to manage the flow of yin and yang (feminine and masculine energy) in the body and to remove blocks and/or slow down places of overactive energy.

I’ll never forget one of the earliest sessions I had where the practitioner explained that one of the biggest blocks in my body was held in the place that stores grief. Ah, ha! Yes indeed! This was wonderful confirmation to me that I was on the right track to righting the ship. But first I needed many treatments!

As I did more and more acupuncture sessions — and do note that if you want to explore acupuncture as a treatment it is best to understand that the greatest impact will likely come with many treatments, not just one or two–I started to somewhat dread the appointments. Why? Because for several days afterward I would feel the release of so much ick….grief, sadness, anger, you name it. I knew I had to let this out of my body but the process wasn’t always fun. However over time as these reactions lessened I also took heart that I was making huge progress!

The one is in the all and the all is in the one….everything is connected and once I realized that the grief I held was connected to the deep shutting down of yin energy which was connected to the infertility, which was all connected to the lack of energy and vitality and joy, I started to understand the urgent need to restore this balance in myself before I saw other outward signs of imbalance in the form of other medical challenges. This process may not have always been fun or easy but in taking responsibility for my health I also restored my power! Yeah baby!

If you’ve never explored acupuncture, just know that those little needles don’t hurt (half the time I don’t feel them!) and are nothing like getting a shot or something like that! They are a very teeny tiny pin put into a pressure point and I’ve been known to walk around with one stuck in me because I didn’t feel it and the practitioner missed it!

If you are looking into acupuncture as a treatment, definitely look to see if your insurance covers it— sometimes it will as part of standard care and other times as part of alternative healing benefit packages. I’m a big fan of community acupuncture clinics for cases where you need many frequent treatments, especially if they are pretty standard-issue. These are clinics that provide treatment in a large open space for a lower cost as compared to clinics that privately treat patients one at a time in private rooms. The vibe in these community clinics is awesome and the cost makes it accessible to so many more people! However I would urge that if you are dealing with complex issues it may be worth your time and money to see a private practitioner to get specialized care and treatment and perhaps switch to community once you have worked through major issues. A practitioner can guide you through the pros and cons of each approach.

Acupuncture can be an especially vital resource for women who are experiencing fatigue, pain, trauma or ptsd, reproductive challenges, or emotional pain (whether grief, anger, depression, anxiety)–challenges that are so common for so many women and yet are ailments that can be difficult to treat with western medicine alone. A skilled healer can assist not only with bodywork but herbs and other treatments that can bring ease and grace to the challenges you are experiencing. They can also educate you about where your body is holding onto physical pain or emotional pain, help you to see the larger picture about the imbalances in your body, and guide you through the process of releasing and clearing it. I’m deeply grateful for the healing I’ve personally received and looking back it allowed me to make many big shifts with more ease and grace and less pain.

Have you had success restoring balance and health through acupuncture? Share your experience! I’d love to hear.

Tomorrow I’ll be writing about Arvigo Therapy as a way to help restore pelvic health. Oh this is a great topic!! Can’t wait to share about this one.

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Ayurveda methods to restore balance

I’ve been blogging this week about my personal journey to restore vitality and heath, so far sharing a bit about the need to balance our inner masculine and feminine and also the call for purification of our body. I talked a little bit about Ayurveda yesterday and wanted to share more of the nuts and bolts about ways to use those techniques (and others).

One of the biggest game changers for me was meeting with an Ayurveda practitioner who did an in depth consult on my Dosha, health history and challenges. She gave me a ton of recommendations, and what I realized was that some of the lifestyle changes I was making with diet and sleep alone weren’t likely to fully bring me back in balance (at least not for a long while). She told me that I probably needed a good detox and also a number of Ayurveda herbs to help do just that.

I’ll admit that was a little skeptical at first about the detox because I’m not on the cayenne pepper and water bandwagon! However, what she recommended was actually a holistic all natural product (offered by DrNatura) that you mix with water or a smoothie and take each day, while eating food just like normal. (Though if you can eat organic/natural along with it even better!). In addition she recommended a range of Ayurveda herbs that supported bringing my body back in balance based on my own health challenges.

I wasn’t sure what to expect about the cleanse, but I tried it because what did I have to lose? I did the full month protocol and didn’t notice too much of a difference until I hit day 30 and all of a sudden I felt a huge shift — a major boost in energy and I felt way more grounded. I continued to take the herbs and still take some of them; one of the other big shifts was that I was no longer constipated! This matters a LOT with Ayurveda. The reason is that Ayurveda is very concerned with finding all sorts of ways to remove toxins from the body. The organs of elimination are what remove all the ick from our body; if they aren’t functioning and all that stays stuck in our body it will make us ill.

Some of the other self-care practices include tongue scraping (using a tool to scrape the ick off your tongue, again so you can remove toxins that build up there!) and using oil for self-massage, a practice called Abhyanga. This nurturing practice of massaging warm oil on your body has a huge range of heath benefits – some are listed here. I personally have to say that is is a beautiful practice! It calms the nerves, is really soothing and I personally noticed benefits with sleep, healthier hair, and more. Both of these practices are so easy to do and affordable. You can buy a tongue scraper inexpensively online or from a wellness store, and oil massage costs nothing more than purchasing the oil (and if you are fancy you can get an oil warmer too!) Just first check to see which type oil is recommended for your Dosha. You can see the recommended oils for each Dosha in this article from the Chopra Center.

If you are looking for ways to nurture your divine feminine essence, Ayurveda has so many beautiful ideas that do just that. The oil massage for sure is one of them, but they promote practices such as meditation, putting flowers in your home to increase beauty, and engaging in beauty rituals like masks that make your feel sensual and nourished. Show me a Western health practitioner who would recommend any of those!

I hope you enjoyed this little exploration of Ayurveda. I have some non-Ayurveda tips I’ll be sharing tomorrow if this isn’t your cup of tea!

Blogging series on reclaiming vitality and joy!

Just Follow the Joy on Facebook & Instagram for more joy and inspiration!

The call to purify

Here we are on day three of the blogging series about restoring vitality and joy! Yesterday I wrote about understanding the need for inner balance of our masculine and feminine energy. Today I’m going to talk about the call to purify the body.

Early in my journey to restore balance I started receiving messages from my higher self that I needed to purify. Frankly I was confused by this and perhaps even a little offended! What exactly was impure in me that needed to go?! What I grew to understand was that energy that sat stagnant had created blocks in my body that caused all sorts of health woes. Plus, The modern processed food diet certainly didn’t help. These energy blocks, or areas of over-active energy, create big imbalances in our body that express with pain, ailments, discomfort, you name it. (There’s a lot more to how energy moves and gets stuck in the body but this gives you a gist. If you are curious to know more check out information on acupuncture which is all about managing/restoring this movement of energy or chi in our body.)

Purification is also helpful because we are living in a time of so much change–the feminine energy is rising and she literally rises in our body. If there are blocks in our body this rising energy will be met with pain and discomfort. By working to detox or purify our body we make space for the energy to flow freely. I think of it as a way to create ease and grace with a process that could otherwise be very uncomfortable.

There are so many detox plans and diets out there, there are probably a million options for ways to purify and restore balance within. I’m sharing what worked for me because hot diggity dog did it work, and swiftly. I’m so passionate about this – but please know I’m not a doctor, it’s not medical advice, all that jazz. 😉 Just one person’s experience.

By far my favorite resource for this topic is Ayurveda. If you aren’t familiar with Ayurveda, it’s an ancient Vedic philosophy rooted in India that is all about the mind-body connection with the underlying premise that our natural state of being is health. It believes that anything we experience outside the realm of optimal health is a sign that we are out of balance — but because it starts within us, should we choose to shift our habits and thoughts we can bring it back to center.

A brief story…remember how I said that I made it my goal to restore my vitality and joy? Once I made that choice I was shown all sorts of resources/supports/people that appeared like bread crumbs from the universe. One of them was a podcast I heard with an interview with a woman named Acharya Shunyas, an Ayurveda scholar/author who was being interviewed about a book she wrote. In the middle of the interview I heard her say, “Joy and Vitality are your BIRTHRIGHT!” My jaw dropped to the floor. I knew this in my core but hearing it from her gave me so much hope! It was like a signpost — yes, Sarah, keep following this path! You can do this!

(By the way, I’ve read a number of books on the topic and by far her book is my favorite! https://www.acharyashunya.com/ayurveda-lifestyle-wisdom-book .)

Before I talk about ways you can restore balance using Ayurveda, it helps to understand your own natural tendencies toward imbalance. Ayurveda believes each person is born with a certain dosha, a term that translates to imbalance. The idea is that once you understand your dosha (your natural tendencies to imbalance) you can be aware of how to keep it from getting out of wack. The good news is that once you know your dosha you can find strategies that work for your particular body type to get back into groove.

There are three types of doshas–vata, pitta and kapha. Each dosha has common physical characteristics and even personality traits that go with it. Personally, finding out my dosha was a game changer. I’m a Vata and to give you a sense of how spot-on this can be, let me describe for you what an imbalanced Vata looks like: dry, fatigued, anxious, hair loss, digestive issues (such as constipation), and problems with fertility and reproductive health.

DING DING DING WE HAVE A WINNER! Could you say I was an out of balanced Vata or what?

So, check it out – what’s your dosha? There are a lot free quizzes online but I really like this one from Everday Ayurveda. What might it tell you about your own natural tendencies to imbalance–and ways to realign? Lots more tomorrow on how you can use all sorts of Ayurveda methods (and others) to begin to restore balance.

Blogging series on reclaiming vitality and joy!

Just Follow the Joy on Facebook & Instagram for more joy and inspiration!

It’s all about that inner balance, baby

This week I’m writing about a journey I’ve been on for the last two years to get my groove back! I’m sharing my story because goodness knows I’m not the only woman who has faced down exhaustion/anxiety/ptsd/infertility or some other host of ailments and longed for something more. Because there is more!

[please know that despite this sounding a little bit like an infomercial I promise there are no herbal supplements being sold! (HA!) If only it were that simple, actually!]

I’m going to take you on a little journey this week to share what I’ve uncovered along the way back to finding ME. The first stop on the the journey is a discussion of ENERGY — specifically why at the root of so much of our imbalance is our yearning for the inner balance of our masculine and feminine energy.

Why start here? The reason is that everything in our outer world is a reflection of our inner world. For women this is even more crucial to grasp because we make our realizations from the inside out (where for men it is the opposite – they need to see the outside world to then go inward.)

Early on in this path of awakening I sensed that there was an imbalance within me but I didn’t have the language to explain it. I hope that sharing these concepts can hep you put your own puzzle pieces together.

One of the first pieces to my puzzle was meeting with an acupuncturist who specialized in infertility treatment. When I described what was going on and my symptoms I remember saying, “hey as weird as it sounds I just feel DRIED UP.” Tapped out, nothing more to give dried up. To my surprise she immediately understood, and said “I know exactly what is going on! And I know how to fix it!” It turns out that my yin channel was blocked and needed unblocking. The yin is the feminine…and wow was she right. My feminine was all sorts of blocked.

Looking back I can chuckle a little bit because it seems like captain obvious to say that my feminine was blocked. But at the time I didn’t know and she helped open the door to me seeing it in a new way.

So what are these energies inside us and why does it matter? First, it’s important to understand that masculine and feminine has nothing to do with gender. Every human (male or female, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identification) has a mix of two energies inside of them. If “male” and “female” trips you up, you might prefer the terms yin and yang, or anima and animus—they are all referring to the same concept. At its root it is energy, two parts within that crave balance, communication and ultimately unity.

In simplistic terms the feminine represents our inner world, that which is hidden, our creative ideas and dreams, our emotions, and the longings of our heart. The feminine is watery and passive. It’s the being, not the doing. The masculine is our outer world – it’s how we live in the world, how we bring life to our ideas, how we behave and interact. It’s our mind. It’s fiery and active. It’s focused on the doing, not the being.

In my own life the imbalance came about because I had way too much doing and not enough being. I was all mental energy at the expense of my creative, artistic longings. I was denying the parts of myself that needed inner tending, rest, quiet. And, I was ignoring the longings of my heart.

In the beginning when you start to understand this energy you may notice extremes. You may notice that there is one aspect of you that is way overpowering the other. Then you start to lessen the gap and bring more harmony and balance between the two; eventually it becomes a subtle dance, a moment-to-moment experience of feeling into what your body needs.

Can you think of a challenge in your life and think about how it might be playing out the imbalance of the masculine and feminine? Our culture has denied and devalued the feminine energy for a very long time, so it is likely that she needs tending in some shape or form. Feel into her…what does she need from you that she isn’t receiving?

There is so much more I can say about this topic but for now I’ll stop here. Feel free to comment if you have questions or thoughts to share. Tomorrow we explore the role of purification in helping to restore balance!

Blogging series on reclaiming vitality and joy!

Just Follow the Joy on Facebook & Instagram for more joy and inspiration!

Breaking rules, breaking habits

REBEL WITH A COFFEE. Or a cause. 😁

I’m currently drinking contraband iced coffee in the teen section of my local library. No teens are here because it is way before noon (as I type this!) Which means that despite the many NO food in the library signs it’s the perfect place to be a rule breaker with my iced coffee tucked away in my purse.

I’m working hard lately breaking norms, societal and self-imposed. Let’s just say the iced-coffee-in-the-library is but a tiny start.

Yeah I see you sign.

It’s been a long yet short summer of weirdness but wonderfulness. I haven’t written on this blog since April, and not writing and sharing here is a habit I plan to break. I literally woke up yesterday and thought, I need to start writing again. Actually, back that up…I think the realization first came after I did an exercise recently (as a spiritual student of Magdala Ramirez, check her out she is amazing) that got me thinking about ways that widsom has been shared when I needed it most, and how I might share it with the ones who come after me. This blog being a tiny corner of the world to do just that!

Yes much has been received and it’s time to give, too! In this long/short weird/wonderful summer I have been integrating a LOT. I went to sacred ceremony (priestess ceremony) for five days in June and it basically took me all summer to unpack what I experienced. I’m realizing that unpacking it isn’t quite enough. I don’t want to hold tight to knowledge. I need to bring it forth!

Earlier this summer I heard this really great episode of the Pele Report (a weekly video/podcast by Kaypacha) where he talked about how we make something sacred once we share it back with the world. (Trying to find the episode…once I find it I’ll post the link!) For example, let’s say you create art. The creation of the art might be a spiritual act, but if you keep it to yourself you have only done half of the work. In sharing it with the outside world you make it sacred. That final step can feel scary and vulnerable but it’s also so freaking POWERFUL. It becomes a full circle moment. Not just receiving but giving it back to source in a new way.

Which brings me back here, typing in the library as I sneak some coffee. In so many areas of my life I’m being called to bring it forward. No more hiding, no more clinging, just free low of love! It’s boundless and endless, so why cling tight or hold it or hide it?! Let’s make it sacred! Even if we are a little scared! (Wow flip those letters and scared becomes sacred. Just blew my own mind a little! 😂)

This is my long and meandering way of saying I plan to write here a lot more often. I’m excited to hear what you are up to as well. Are you hearing the call to bring it forth? I’d love to hear about it!

With joy,

Sarah

I’m coming out of my shell! (And it’s a little scary)

The other night I read my daughter a book that mentioned how lobsters hide under rocks while molting a new shell.

First of all: lobsters molt?! I I’m am showing my ignorance of the crustacean family here but I had no idea. Also, gross.

Maine-ly I wanted an excuse to use this adorable Lobstah gif

Second: friends, I think I might be a LOBSTER!

Let’s review the facts, shall we?

  1. Sarah has been on a long-ass journey of releasing, healing, transmuting, discarding . . .one could say that she has molted more than a few shells.
  2. She kept herself under a rock while molting because nobody wants to see a naked lobster!
  3. She discovered one day that it seemed like there was nothing left to molt. Yep, done molting.
  4. She realized that if she was done molting, maybe this meant she could come out from under the rock!
  5. She then cried in the parking lot of a Publix grocery store when she realized that it is VERY SCARY TO SCURRY OUT FROM UNDER YOUR ROCK WITH A STILL-SOMEWHAT-SQUISHY SHELL. (Long story. Everything is ok. Sometimes you just gotta cry it out on the grocery run.)

I was going to draw a picture of myself as a lobster because everyone loves a visual, but I realized that I don’t have time to do that. But I DO have a lovely drawing of a ghost crab. I met him last summer in Cocoa Beach. Isn’t he just the cutest?

My little ghost crabs. They look a little freaked out don’t they! I drew these last summer. 😀

So, for the purposes of this blog post, I am metaphorically speaking a lobster GHOST CRAB. (Which I googled – and they do molt – so it works.)
HERE I GO! It’s a little scary. My shell is still a little squishy. But no more hiding under a rock!! It’s time!

P.S. Do you think crabs are cute or totally gross? I vote cute! Cuter than lobsters for sure. By the way, do NOT google “lobsters molting” unless you want nightmares.

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Courage, dear heart

I feel like a butterfly that is figuring out how the heck to get untangled from its cocoon. It’s been such a long journey to get here. It can’t be rushed and yet I have an urgency or is it impatience? Or fear that maybe it won’t really happen? Regardless, I needed to create bravery where none existed.

I needed Courage, dear heart.

Art my own; joyfulhummingbirdart.etsy.com

Sending virtual courage to anyone who needs it right now. We got this!

Dear mom

It’s been five years since we said goodbye, but even that phrase “goodbye” doesn’t seem exactly right. We talk all the time. You flood my YouTube feed with Mormon Tabernacle Choir music, and when I ignore you, you up the ante by sending a Mormon tabernacle choir rendition of ABBA’s Dancing Queen. Yeah you knew I’d click it and I did and about died of laughter watching it. Why am I not surprised you’d be pulling off goofy antics even from heaven?

I mean seriously a bell choir is performing ABBA. It’s amazing 😂

You’d be thrilled I took the day off work to grieve/celebrate YOU…and to make some art while rocking out to music. (Don’t worry, I’m not only listening to new wave. I’ll throw some Linda Ronstandt and Streisand in rotation too.)

Mom and me.

We’ll be having a slice of chocolate cake tonight to celebrate your life. Zoey says you get some too, and she’s pretty sure you can eat as much as you want in heaven without getting a belly ache! I bet she’s right. We love you. Keep a listen for the sound of bells….we might put on some tabernacle jams in your honor.

Love,

Sarah Joy

Pursuing joy

At some point this past year I decided I wanted my life to be about pursuit of joy rather than reduction of suffering. And to paraphrase Frost, it has made all the difference.

For me it looks like embracing my inner artist. I was born an artist but along the way morphed, conformed, forgot. It’s all good. The journey back to myself has been so sweet! I’m leaping into fear, taking an undergrad art class with students who are literally half my age. Fear and joy! Fear and joy! Even the smell of art supplies makes my heart sing.

Are there any small ways you can increase joy? Share you victories below!! I’m so happy to give virtual high fives to you brave souls.