A very short while ago, my life was very different from how it is today. Spending simple, happy days with my husband and baby boy, pursuing my life’s work and spreading a message of self-love, was out of reach.
During a period of four years, from 2008 to 2012, my life as I knew it, disintegrated. It all began when I was 29 years old. I had a massive flare-up of Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition I had been diagnosed with three years prior and had been suffering the ongoing and baffling symptoms of for ten years.
In the previous decade, I had learned to manage my symptoms with a gluten and dairy free diet, gentle exercise and stretching as well as chiropractic, acupuncture and massage treatments. I also read spiritual books, pursed my passions, and sought counselling. I did whatever it took to create and enjoy a good life.
I was working as a Research Analyst with the Government of Canada, pursuing my Masters, performing and recording as a singer/songwriter, and living with my soon-to-be husband, Kris, in our Downtown Toronto condo. I felt I had prevailed over my incurable condition.
Unfortunately, the brutality of my flare-up made life unbearable much less manageable. Not to be dramatic, but my spine seemed to sizzle like baking soda in water. I felt a pressure building inside me like a balloon about to burst. And, my back, neck and shoulders felt constricted and knotted like a garden hose.
There is no frame of reference I can give for anyone without Fibromyalgia, to help you understand how it feels and impacts a life. But, imagine that your body is so rigid, and your nervous system is so sensitive that every sensual experience of life is distorted.
A simple thought, a light touch, a passing emotion, the scent of perfume, a bright light, a change in temperature, and many other ordinary sensations, are all experienced as pain, without reprieve.
As you might imagine, this experience of life, in every moment, is exhausting and disheartening. It is tormenting. And, honestly, after awhile it feels sinister and pointed; like a karmic punishment.
For months after the flare-up struck, I could not walk without assistance. I could not sit, lie down or stand in comfort. I could not engage in conversation. I could not sleep. I could not hold a thought in my mind. I could not wash my own hair. I could not make a sandwich. I was debilitated. Fortunately, I could rely on Kris and my mom, who I call Mudder, to care for me.
Because of the severity, acuteness and longstanding nature of my pain, I had to take a leave from my career with the Federal Government of Canada. I could not continue to write and perform as a singer/songwriter – recording my debut CD “Child of Rhyme” was put on hold. I dropped out of my Masters program. There was nothing I could do; even socializing was too painful. Everything I had worked hard and sacrificed for was slipping away.
Over the course of a year, I received every medical test available and attended the best pain clinics in Toronto. In addition to Fibromyalgia, an MRI found that I had a condition called Syringomyelia (a long tubular cyst in my spinal cord). Each medical specialist told me that I had to learn to live with the pain that these conditions caused. Some suggested mind over matter while others prescribed medications.
At age 30, I hit rock bottom when I suffered a potentially fatal drug interaction called Serotonin Syndrome. My body made involuntary movements. My limbs flailed. And my torso rocked and shook. When all of my muscles hardened like clay my actions became slow, deliberate and awkward. By the grace of God, my pharmacist noticed my symptoms and alerted my family doctor.
Frightened and desperate, I began to wean from the six heavy duty medications I was taking. I was in a state of detox for a full month. I got brain shivers, sweated through my clothes, and stayed up around the clock. Somehow, I found sweet solace listening to Alison Krauss’ song “Get me Through December”, over and over. I silently pleaded with God to have mercy on me.
From that point on, I recommitted to a path of self-healing and discovery. I focussed on doing small things that connected me to a feeling of purpose and wellbeing rather than accomplishment and anxiety. And, I began to unravel the patterns of pain.
- I wrote a little each day.
- I received gentle energy-based treatments – Bowen, Reiki and Craniosacral Therapy.
- I started Sequential Therapy through Medical (Homeopathic) Heilkunst which allowed me to process and release old trauma and injuries.
- I learned to meditate, do Medical Qi gong, clear my chakras and recite affirmations.
- I practised mindfulness to preserve, value, and monitor my energetic boundaries.
- I distanced myself from unsupportive relationships.
- I forgave myself for past mistakes.
- I shifted thought patterns, belief systems and dysfunctional behaviours.
Throughout that time, I sought to embody all the spiritual practices that I’d collected like pretty, interesting rocks from a shoreline. And, I became uplifted with a sense of divine guidance. Often, I heard voices, had visions and happened upon resources that led me to the next step in my healing.
Eventually, those promptings and urgings led me home, to Newfoundland, where I’d been raised. By 2010, Kris and I were living a stone’s throw from my childhood home, preparing for our wedding. Although I continued to struggle with intense discomfort and pain day to day, life was blossoming again. Then, the worst possible thing happened…
Mudder was diagnosed with cancer.
It was a crushing, arduous, unfathomable reality. But she and I supported each other through our respective treatments and inner work; finding our way through the thicket, hand in hand.
My heart shattered when my beautiful, wise and big-hearted Mudder passed away in January of 2012 after a year and half of living bravely, cheerfully and graciously with cancer. She was 59 years old.
Within a month of Mudder’s passing, my dad was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Can you imagine! Again, daily life became shocking and traumatic. But, as we all do in life, we carried on as best we could. We were able to get him the excellent full-time care he needed and settle the family home.
Once I felt Dad was safe and supported, I let myself grieve. And, again, I turned to writing. For the first time in my life, I let my sadness, anger and fear wash through me without any guilt or feelings of shame. And, I grew strong.
After Mudder died, I could feel her unbridled love all around me – more present and hefty than ever. One of the last things she had said to me was:
“You’ve always had a soft heart. Keep it, even though it hurts. Don’t harden it and become bitter and miserable. I will always be your Mudder and I will always be in your heart.”
In the weeks that followed, as I relished her meaningful words and the last moments we shared, a crystal clear knowing formed inside of me:
It was time for me to give myself the unconditional love that Mudder always had.
Throughout my life, Mudder had always remarked that I was too hard on myself. Finally, it occurred to me that she might be right! Mudder’s love, from beyond her earthly presence, broke the spell I’d been under. As all of this came into focus for me, I knew I needed to ease up.
- I stopped striving to change, heal or fix myself.
- I committed to being at peace with my life, even the Fibromyalgia.
- I decided to no longer worry about what I should or should not do.
- I nurtured my creativity and intuition.
- I let go of needing to prove myself.
- I gave up the ghost of getting my old life back and opened up to letting a new life come to me.
Determined to show Mudder that I would be okay without her physical presence, I began a rigorous routine of healing my Miasms through Homeopathic Heilkunst, spent quality time with lifelong friends, and embraced the newness and joy of my marriage.
I found great comfort in such books as “Dying to be Me,” by Anita Moorjani and “Reaching to Heaven: A Spiritual Journey Through Life and Death” by James Van Praagh. I sought to embody the teachings from Wayne Dyer’s book “Wishes Fulfilled: The Art of Manifesting what you Desire”.
Each night, I did as Dr. Dyer had suggested. In the moments before I drifted off to sleep, I affirmed and felt in my body that:
“I AM perfect health.”
Within a month of starting my new spiritual practise, a Peruvian Shaman named Don Martine was visiting Newfoundland.
As he did a cocoa leaf reading, Don Martine predicted many wonderful things for me that at the time seemed impossible – having a child within two years, writing books about healing, and having a successful spiritual business. He gave me insight into my strengths as a gentle but strong Hummingbird spirit and explained that I had lost my power but would recover it.
He said that I would open my third eye and unlock my intuitive and psychic abilities. And he suggested that by listening to and following my heart I could lead a bigger life. All of those things felt encouraging but doubtful, given my circumstances. But one simple remark cracked me open like a crowbar. He said:
“You are a good person.”
This statement triggered an unraveling of my most pervasive and misguided belief and fear – that I was weak and unworthy.
During my time with Don Martine, I also received a powerful energy transfer (El Condor). It cracked open the shell of complete misery that I had been confined to for years and ignited my life force.
Within three weeks of my healing session with him, I was pregnant! My husband and I were filled with awe; we hadn’t been sure when or if I would be able to handle a pregnancy, much less motherhood.
Sadly, it was not meant to be. At sixteen weeks pregnant, I miscarried. We, and our family and friends, were devastated. But, having always felt divine guidance during times of great loss and devastation, I knew that all was well, and in right order. And, I was grateful that I was strong enough to be there for Kris who’d always supported and protected me.
Within a few months, I was pregnant again!
Two weeks before I got pregnant the second time, I had had a clear vision of The Shiny Soul Project. The idea, significance and importance of Shiny Souls came to me in a bright flash of silver light. Again, I felt divinely led and inspired. Suddenly, everything was abundantly clear to me.
I realized that the world DESPERATELY needs Shiny Souls!
I came to understand that Shiny Souls:
- Are born bright, aware and connected.
- Teach others the far reaching impact and power of our words, thoughts, beliefs, actions and energy.
- Are attuned, responsive and adaptive on all levels – emotionally, physically, psychologically, intellectually, intuitively, creatively, spiritually, energetically and psychically.
- Suffer as a result of denying our true way of being, not because we are super responsive to our environment.
- Can know great joy, peace, happiness and wisdom when we work with our natural abilities.
- Thrive as the insightful creators, visionaries, light workers, leaders, trailblazers, nurturers and healers we are here to be!
In the next two years, I continued to discover and reconnect with my Shiny Soul as I learned to more deeply embrace, nurture, protect and reveal the true essence of me.
- I unlocked my intuition and creativity.
- I awakened to the natural psychic connection we all have.
- I recovered from my longstanding flare-up of Fibromyalgia.
- I finished my first novel and began a second.
- I started blogging to reach out to others, like me.
- I founded my life’s work – The Shiny Soul Project.
- I gave birth to my baby boy, Everett Neil.
I realized that we are like STARFISH.
At our core is our Shiny Soul. No matter our circumstances, we remain a beautiful, vast and limitless core of love, light, and grace. And, just as a starfish can regenerate any part of it as long as it has its core, when we awaken to our Shiny Souls we can heal and renew all aspects of ourselves.
Because the pain, exhaustion, grief, and sorrow I’d experienced had laid me bare, all that was left for me to draw from was my Shiny Soul. And I found wholeness again. I opened up to a fuller expression of me!
In those six years, I transformed. I went from being:
- Reliant on prescription medications to taking none.
- Unable to take care of myself to carrying a baby.
- Susceptible and exposed to grounded and strong.
- Bedridden to pushing a baby stroller.
- Medically retired to discovering my life’s work.
- Bottled up to emotionally present.
- Insecure to Empowered.
- Debilitated to Thriving.
- Fearful to Free.
- Weary to Revitalized.
- Perfectionistic to Eas-ier-going 😀
Now, I see life as a Shiny Soul Project
Our lives are an ongoing opportunity for renewal as we open up to the vast beauty, truth and essence of who we are. In our search for meaning and wisdom, we are free to create, discover, and question.
Projects are a time to explore, experiment with and be fascinated by a process. We are here to enjoy the many facets of living; the joys, sorrows, setbacks and breakthroughs. If we make a mistake we simply learn from it and continue. If something falls apart, we can rebuild. When we discover something new, we can marvel at it, not beat ourselves up for not discovering it sooner.
Projects free us to be imperfect, open and hopeful.
I wish for you a joyous, beautiful and marvelous Shiny Soul Project as you open up to the wonderfully vast and courageous essence of you – YOUR SHINY SOUL!