This month I celebrate my 2-year cancer-free anniversary!
To honour this, I am dedicating this month to Women of Wisdom everywhere.
You know who they are, right? Those ladies who bring all their humanity to the table in an effort to guide and support others on their path. Even if they don’t know they’re doing it. Those ones who offer a cosy cuppa or cuddle or cocktail at just the right time, and whose words seems to soothe your soul. They’ve often been on quite the journey themselves, so they walk their talk, and provide a lamp to light our way.
I’ll be sharing articles, podcast episodes and galleries to pay thanks to some of the women who have guided me on my way. This includes people I’ve never met, but who have touched my life in positive, galvanising ways. After all, we don’t have to be facing a cancer diagnosis or huge crisis to be in need of a little inspiration, support or nurturing.
By the way, when I say inspiration, I do NOT mean plastering a happy face over the really tough moments (though if that’s what works for you, go for it). In my experience, that’s like putting a kink in a garden hose – it might stop the water temporarily, but just builds more and more pressure inside. I want to let the water (and life) flow; I’ve learned there are no shortcuts, but sometimes the best way for me to feel better is to face the sadness, hurt, grief, fear head on. Make room for it, and then regroup. Amazingly, a better and brighter dawn often follows.
The women I’m introducing you to today not only entered my (virtual) life at just the right time to get me through some dark and scary days, but each also harnesses their mind/body/spirit connection in their own unique kick-ass way. May they bring some light into your life too!
Kris Carr • Crazy Sexy Cancer
Kris first became known for her self-directed documentary Crazy Sexy Cancer – charting her diagnosis of a rare, incurable form of cancer and her subsequent journey exploring treatment options, lifestyle changes, other people living with cancer, and struggles to comes to terms with what it all means.
When I finally managed to source a copy (the DVD wasn’t available here in Australia), I sat alone in the house with a box of tissues next to me and sobbed my way through it. In a good way 🙂
If you’ve just been diagnosed, or are a cancer survivor, you gotta watch Crazy Sexy Cancer. If you haven’t, but just want to get a brighter perspective on your own life, you gotta watch Crazy Sexy Cancer.
When Kris began filming in 2003, a few weeks after her diagnosis, the prognosis wasn’t good. Fast forward 14 years, and Kris is not only still living with cancer, but thriving and inspiring people all over the world to make the most of life, take care of themselves, and as she says “turn lemons into champagne”.
I can totally relate to the despair she’s felt. But I also felt such a perspective shift when I realised there are women – with far harsher prognoses than myself – who are not only surviving, but continuing to create, to love, to live their lives as fully as possible (chemo-permitting). To celebrate. And doing it in their own rebellious style. Yes!
Kris has since gone on to write many award-winning books (including cookbooks, to rave review), but the two I really resonated with were Crazy Sexy Cancer and Crazy Sexy Cancer Survivor. If you’ve just been diagnosed or know someone who has, these books are an absolute god-send. Dipping into these books feels like you’re catching up with your girlfriends for coffee: swapping stories, trading secrets with an arm around each other, accompanied by cheeky giggles and a healthy dose of sass. My kinda gal.
(And although she doesn’t talk of red shoes per se, she does champion a pair of cowgirl boots and for that alone, we will forever be kindred spirits.)
These books cover so many aspects of the cancer experience – but the one thing I had absolutely no reference for was the amount of paperwork. I was shocked as months and even a year later, I was still receiving bills and appointment reminders and checkups and form-filling. And of course this all has to be managed whilst dealing with the effects of radiation/chemo (hello fuzzy head, sieve-like memory, bone-crushing fatigue), plus getting your head around what’s actually just happened. Kris dedicates a whole chapter to what she calls becoming the CEO of Save My Ass, Inc, and led me through a step-by-step of how to organise records, make appointments, ask questions, even how to label each divider in my (newly-acquired) health folder! Exactly the kind of practical and expert help I needed at the time.
More recently, I’ve fallen in love with her Crazy Sexy Love Notes – a gorgeous deck of cards delivering “messages from your wise and fabulous inner self”. The colourful artwork and simple messages have brought themselves into my heart and I now permanently keep them desk; throughout the day or a particularly challenging moment I reach over, choose a card and connect with some inspiration.
Kris’ blog posts, newsletters, recipes, books and CDs can all be found at her website: www.KrisCarr.com
Dr Christiane Northrup • Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom
My friend Amelia first told me about Dr Christiane Northrup and her ground-breaking book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. Opening the pages of this telephone book-sized tome is like stepping into a wild and curious wonderland – it’s truly mindblowing that a) someone knows all this stuff in the first place and b) our bodies are so incredibly intuitive, connected, sensitive and wise.
Dr Northrup is a Women’s Health expert who is often described as being at the headwaters of female health. She began practising as an OB/GYN at a time where much attention wasn’t really given to the patient as a whole person, and over the years, she has worked to change that.
It’s crazy to think that Christiane’s book was initially rejected by publishers, who believed there wasn’t a market for it (she now keeps that first rejection letter framed on her wall). When it was finally published in 2004, it quickly became an international bestseller and challenged so much of the conventional medical thinking of the time. She spoke to something that so many women instinctively know: our minds, emotions, memories and experiences can affect our physical health.
She covers so much in this book that I would be doing a disservice if I tried to summarise it. But suffice it to say, if you’re a woman, you will probably find something in these pages. It’s a reference you need in your library, to come back to again and again, and to share with your girlfriends, mothers, daughters, sisters and nieces. Must-read stuff.
One particular chapter that was invaluable to me during my cancer treatment covered medical surgery. Christiane offered a script filled with positive affirmations and suggestions, designed to be read out loud in the hospital operating theatre just as the anaesthetic is kicking in, then again prior to coming out of surgery and into recovery. I adapted the words slightly to fit my own situation and health goals, and took my typed page with me into the surgery.
I felt a bit sheepish as I explained to my surgeon and anaesthetist what I would like them to do, but they were very happy to oblige (whatever works to keep a patient happy and calm, right?) and handed it to the nurse. She read through it then looked at me with a wide smile, saying “this is great! Can I keep this to use with other patients?” And I’ve gotta say, I went into the surgery feeling much calmer, and back on the road to recovery very quickly.
In addition to her other bestsellers, Christiane also has a free weekly radio show on www.hayhouseradio.com – an online radio station created by Hay House Publishing to provide “radio for your soul”. Although the live shows are free to listen to online for up to seven days afterwards, for an annual fee you can become a Wisdom Community member, which grants access to all the show archives dating back over a decade.
As a regular listener to her podcast, I’m always intrigued by Christiane’s take on things, even if I don’t necessarily agree at times. I love her eclectic and holistic approach to health and life: she will talk of the latest medical research and then in the next breath discuss astrology, or her Argentine tango classes. And as she’s now a grandmother, she is also becoming a glorious warrior for challenging beliefs around ageing, with The Wisdom of Menopause.
If you want an intelligent, luscious and creative influence in your life, you have to meet Christiane: www.drnorthrup.com
Belleruth Naparstek • Health Journeys
While tuning in to Christiane’s podcast, I’d heard her mention using Health Journeys for anyone going into surgery. Knowing I was about to face my second surgery plus radiation, my ears pricked up as I knew I needed extra support.
Belleruth Naparstek is a psychotherapist, author and guided imagery creator of Health Journeys. I have used guided imagery meditations for over twenty years, both for general relaxation and stress management and also a tool in my work with children, but Belleruth has created some beautiful tailored tracks to help with specific issues, such as fertility, creativity, self-confidence, relaxation and well-being, healing heartbreak and abandonment, plus an extensive range of cancer-related tracks.
My first purchase was Meditations for Successful Surgery, but I quickly followed that up with Meditations to Help You Fight Cancer, and Meditations to Help with Oncology-Related Fatigue and Radiation. Since then, I’ve listened to tracks for creativity, relaxation, focus and concentration, you name it!
The testimonials on her website are pretty interesting: people from many different walks of life who have found benefit in the Health Journeys – such as military personnel and people struggling with fertility issues. Belleruth has spent many years researching and developing her techniques, and on my first listening I felt supported and calmed by her beautiful grounded voice and presence. She has an American accent (which I know can be a distraction for us living on the other side of the rock) but it’s lovely and soft, and the music is gentle and smooth. Most CDs include a short introduction, a guided visulisation, followed by either a music only or affirmation track. You can download to your smartphone/tablet or listen through your computer, though I like them best with headphones when I’m nestled in my little chair.
I feel her tracks get the balance just right between acknowledging the challenging reality of a situation, and reframing it to include a positive approach. To me, they’re the perfect blend of strength, love and a little bit of magic (and who doesn’t need a little bit of magic when times get tough?). www.healthjourneys.com
Life’s too short … wear the red shoes,
Do you resonate with these Women of Wisdom? Or do you have your own Women of Wisdom or inspirational resource you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.