Archive for the ‘Healing’ Category

Persistence, Patience, Respect, Resilience

Friday, December 20th, 2019

I did some dreamwork for the first time awhile ago wherein I set the intention of receiving wisdom from my dreams (with a little ritual to make it more than a casual request) and I got some really clear, giant, banner-like guidance in the form of these words: Persistence, Patience, Respect, Resilience. They have been echoing and resonating ever since in various ways, and in one particular way I want to share with you.

I have a human body, too! I have my own struggles, strengths, weaknesses, challenges and successes. I need help, I need people to help me see what I cannot, and I sometimes flounder in difficult stuck places like everybody else. It often seems like I get one thing all figured out and another puzzle presents itself. Some worse than others.

For the past few years I have been working with a particularly challenging lower back issue that at one time made it painful to stand and cook, to work, to walk. As recently as last December I was in a lot of pain, unable to take short walks without suffering. I had to stop and think when I was feeling my most fragile and frustrated, “What is truly going to help me?” My gut told me that it was more active than passive- the bodywork I had received had only brought temporary relief and it felt to me like I had to build some new movement patterns with a practice of some kind.

To deal with this I had to quit an exercise routine (crossfit) that was making me feel great in many ways (and had helped me fix a problem I had been living with for 30 years) and switch to something that was more of a long-game (Pilates). I then had to put Pilates on hold for a month or so to step back even further to do some physical therapy (with Heidi Gans, who is fantastic). I had to slow waaaaaaaay down, feel the subtle movements of my habitual strengths, and commit to a practice of awareness that I then took back into my Pilates class.

Although I have longed for something that would just be “the answer” and make the problem disappear without me having to work at it so much, it turns out that persistence, patience, and respect have restored my resilience. Twice weekly Pilates classes for an entire year did pay off- I can walk, cook, work, and am considering getting back into more active cardio workouts again! The ongoing practices of tuning in, staying curious, being compassionate about my limitations and frustrations- these things make me stronger in more than just the physical realm. I am grateful to my dreams for their wisdom and encouragement!

Invisible Illness

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

A couple of years ago I was interviewed for a film about invisible illness by Mystère Poème-Dawson. Invisible illness is when you are not well in one way or another and the medical system can’t seem to figure out how to help you. If there isn’t a clear diagnosis or path of treatment, it makes you feel invisible. This in addition to whatever your original symptoms are can be pretty miserable. Mystère was stuck there herself and decided to make a documentary to at least build a sense of visibility. Check her film out at


Monday, April 8th, 2019

Sometimes my clients are working with stuff that won’t budge despite all their efforts- therapies both physical and emotional, diet changes, lifestyle tweaks… everything helps a little but the sticky stuff is really stuck.

Many years ago I was stuck in just such a cycle and a trusted colleague gave me a brochure for a shaman she knew. I rolled my eyes and threw it into a stack of stuff and kept trying with the therapy, the massage, the Rolfing, the acupuncture, and still, I was waking every night in pain. I got fairly desperate. I gave the shaman a call.

He could tell that I was reluctant/skeptical and he was kind about it, encouraging me to go ahead and allow myself to show up for the work since I had already gotten myself there and paid for it. He had a point, so I went with it, and we did some soul retrieval work together around a traumatic incident that had occurred a few years prior. I remember not knowing quite what to make of it, but thinking as I left about how spirit doesn’t often factor into health care in our modern world. From a pragmatic and less woo-woo standpoint, he had made me confront something I had been avoiding and had given me at least a metaphor to help me release it. And my pain went away, I began sleeping through the night again.

Since then I have seen a few other practitioners who I would generally fit into a “spirit” category- intuitive healers, a medium, shamanistic healers. Sometimes the work they do would feel weird to that earlier version of me, but I have surrendered at least some of the skepticism (when working with a vetted practitioner) and can allow myself to receive what they offer. Many times what they offer is help discerning the work I have to do myself, and I then have to go and do it. I would credit one such healer with basically giving me a list of beliefs that I had to surrender and some possible techniques that might help me do that. That list didn’t include but eventually led to the Somatic Experiencing work that I now practice.

I want to put this out there as a real and valuable tool for you. Mind/Body/Spirit is not just a catchphrase. I can usually help you with your body. Check my resources page for folks who can help you with your spirit.

Who do you go to?

Sunday, December 17th, 2017

I get asked a lot who I get my healing and helping work from. I am lucky enough to have some great relationships going with a variety of folks who do different things, all of which are hugely beneficial to my health and well being. I have a quick-reference list here, but if you want more details about these practitioners, read on:

My most regular massage trades are with Christina Pappas, who works on Vashon Island and in Pioneer Square. She’s a craniosacral therapist and also does some lovely deep Swedish massage.

My friend Eve DeRooy is another excellent craniosacral therapist who also gives a lovely massage, and she has extensive training in trauma healing with Somatic Experiencing and the Organic Intelligence models.

Michael Hahn is someone I send people to when it seems likely that their finer structural relationships could use some attention. People who have had extensive gut issues or multiple accidents or surgeries… or sometimes folks whose problems just don’t respond to the work I do the way I would hope or expect- I send them to Michael.

For Structural Integration work I most often trade with Kate Bradfield. It is so lovely to get her eyes and hands on my situation and get some help!

My Rolfing mentor Ron McComb is still at it, practicing a few days a month in Seattle. Though I have not had a chance to connect with him for many years, he has been practicing for almost my entire life and has a ton of wisdom to share.

I’m currently seeing Jared Kohler for some unique chiropractic care- no popping and cracking, but tapping, vibrating, and stretching with precision adjustments of the atlas/axis of the spine, so gentle you hardly feel it happening.

I’ve also seen Mike Ross for the more traditional cracking business, though he does a lot more soft tissue work with Active Release Technique than cracking, and is very rehab-oriented. He is great for giving you exercises to do on your own.

For the past year and a half or so my body has been telling me that my diet could use some adjusting– not because of middle-aged spread, though that is certainly of concern- but because of discomfort and inflammation. I will be spending some time with Michelle Schwartz to help strategize myself into greater comfort again.

I had a great experience with Movement Systems Physical Therapy and Neal Goldberg helped me fine-tune my bike fit.

Gay at Kinesia Pilates did a series of private sessions with me that have been crucial in my current quest for strength and stability in my lower back.

Everybody needs help. I am so grateful to have these excellent practitioners to turn to, and always interested to hear who you go to when you need it!


Friday, December 15th, 2017

As a quick reference to the people and places I go to get myself taken care of, or have heard great things about from trusted sources, I offer you this list. I have gone into more detail about them here.

Christina Pappas– Craniosacral Therapy, deep tissue Swedish massage
Eve DeRooy– Craniosacral Therapy, Swedish massage, Somatic Experiencing/Organic Intelligence
The team at Banya 5– for sooner-rather-than-later needs

Kate Bradfield– Certified Advanced Rolfer
Michael Hahn– Visceral Manipulation, Hellerwork
Lisa Torrison O’Neil– Structural Integration Practitioner

Chiropractic Care
Jared Kohler– super gentle, does very specific atlas/axis work as well
Michael Ross– Active Release Technique and more traditional cracking

8 Limbs Yoga Centers
Kinesia Pilates
Vitality Pilates
Heroics Personal Training

Physical Therapy
Heidi Gans
Footworks Physical Therapy
Movement Systems Physical Therapy

Talk Therapy
Kathi Buchanan (206) 931-4256
Charlotte House
Caleb Dodson
Alexandra Onno ‭(206) 949-4520‬

Michelle Schwartz

Primary Care
Dean Chier, MD– Seattle Healing Arts Center has a great reputation.

Suzanne Ragan Lentz
Eric Thorton
Katie Poinier


Help for the Rotator Cuff

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

Awhile back I had a whole rash of people coming in with the same kind of rotator cuff issues. It inspired me to look for something they could do themselves to help with what is clearly a common problem.

These “most famous on the internet” physical therapists have some basic tests for you to see if you are dealing with an Impingement issue here. If you ARE, then you can do these exercises for making space around the impingement, and these for strengthening and stabilizing.

It is my experience that doing nothing and hoping that a persistent rotator cuff issue will just go away on its own is not likely to work. Massage/bodywork can sometimes help get things back on track, but truly doing something about it on the regular– like, really really regular–has a tendency to help. I have a funky shoulder that pretty much needs me to do a set of simple exercises three times a week on an ongoing basis to be happy. It helps! Not doing them makes my shoulder hurt again after not too long.

I recommend that people with sharp pains in their shoulder joints get themselves a good PT and then do what they are told!

The Polyvagal Theory

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

I’m putting this here so that I know where to find it when I need a refresher!

The Polyvagal theory as described by Dr. Stephen Porges helps us to understand our physiological responses to stress. Knowing why our bodies do what they do can be SUCH A RELIEF for our minds, which love to find meaning for the states we find ourselves in, even when those states don’t match the current environment. This is particularly useful information for people with trauma histories, whose bodies might be telling stories from times past that make the present difficult to fully enjoy.

The science of Mind over Body

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

Released Jan 26, 2016 Fresh Air with Terry Gross interviews Jo Marchant on topics that may be relevant to your interests. They certainly were to mine, pinging especially my trauma training and the physiology of PTSD.

The blurb:

“The mind has the ability to directly affect our health, from pain and depression to heart disease. Science writer Jo Marchant describes how things like mindfulness, virtual reality and the placebo effect are being harnessed in medical treatments.”

Self-massage for foot mobility

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

I just did this nice little self-care ritual of Mary Bond’s. I spend a lot of time in my bare or socked feet at work, but as she points out, that flat surface isn’t particularly interesting to my feet, and just threading my fingers through the toes as she suggests was a revelation.

This past weekend I was up by the Hamma Hamma river on the Olympic Peninsula and was walking barefoot on the sun-warmed river rocks, massaging my feet on the old logs, and allowing the forest floor to stimulate all of the receptors on the bottoms of my feet. So good! It makes me appreciate how my son Huck has toughened up his feet with a mostly barefoot summer and now his steps don’t have to be so tender and tentative when he walks the earth that way.

The Allowing Will

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Some time ago the magazine of the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration® published an excerpt from Dr. Jeffrey Maitland’s book Spacious Body: Explorations in Somatic Ontology. It was a dense and chewy read by a philosopher and Rolfer, and though it took me a while to read the whole article, his ideas have resonated in the years since.

Scanning through the article again, I feel like he needed a better editor, but the idea of finding within oneself an “Allowing Will” has been very juicy for me over the years. Can I choose, for instance, to allow support from another being, or allow something deep to happen in my body or experience without trying to control it? What if I just let gravity have that leg for a moment? Will all hell break loose? How about allowing myself to feel that tangle of emotions in the hip? Will the universe implode? Letting go of control can feel very dangerous to someone who has used it to navigate this crazy world. Not that I would know (ahem).

“Fundamentally, allowing is a surrendering of the body-self and its conflicts into a spaciousness greater than itself from which empowered willing and action can manifest.”

From this place the universe seems kinder and gentler and has a little more flow. Terrible things happen, but bracing against terrible things tends to make more terrible things happen, and allowing them to be something that instead once happened and then allowing the future to hold the possibility of quite different experiences… well, it works better for me.

Click the quote above to access the book, the Allowing Will is chapter 4.