Healing Hands

I guess being a Healer has some benefits as I have some seriously amazing healing hands around me.  Again, the generosity of spirit is something to behold – my friends support me in the most tangible ways – through acupuncture, Shiatsu, movement, bodywork and more!

My dear Nia friends Vicki and Al are such powerful healers and they have been doing a method with called MELT.  It has been so therapuetic – just having that time to really be slow and connect to my body and breath has been so important.  My nervous system that feels so jacked up at the moment gets a break and a moment to calm, ground, and just be.  My connective tissue, lymphatic system and nervous system are prepared in such a real way!

more about MELT

My sweet angels who have been MELTING me every week!
My sweet angels who have been MELTING me every week!

Then last week my friend Shelly who is a Shaitsu practitioner and Acupuncturist gave me my first Shiatsu treatment ever.  But believe me, it will not be my last!  Again, maybe because I’ve had so much going on, when I get this time to “turn off”, I really do it.  I mean I a was like butter…in that glorious state between awake and asleep.  Little did I know that my friend Shelly used to work at the Immune Enhancement Program in SE Portland – a Chinese Medicine clinic providing treatment for cancer patients.  She is amazing!

Shiatsu with my adorable friend Shelly

My friend Rose is a Naturopathic Doctor focusing on Oncology.  I’ve always loved Rose’s vibrant energy, and being in her presence about 2 weeks after diagnosis really helped me turn things around.  She’s got me packed with vitamins, herbs, and green smoothies….but most of all it is her light that grounded me and moved me toward “stress” mode to “self care and nurturing” mode.

Rose, Naturopathic Doctor who shines

And my Nia student Helen, who is also my neighbor (building next door), will be giving me acupuncture the morning before my surgery.  How cool is that!

Oh, and my friend Liz will be doing some post op acupuncture.  I think I have a “post op block”, like when I was preparing for childbirth and the only thing I could think of was the birth and everything that came after was just not on line yet.  Well, that’s a bit how I feel about the surgery – I just can’t imagine how my new body will feel and I know some acupuncture to re-center and re-connect will be so helpful.

My friend Liz – one of Portland’s top docs too! :)

Being in the presence of so many skilled healers is a journey in and of itself for this healer.  I get to experience first hand what makes a healer a healer.  There is something about being fully seen, heard, and held that feels so good and comforting.  It is the quality of mindful presence and I am so lucky to be on the receiving end of all this healing.  No doubt this is yet another gift that will aid me in my own practices as a healer.

Shaking it out

Arriving at Studio Nia yesterday to teach my last class (for a while) and seeing so many beautiful faces greeting me, supporting me, wearing “We Love Erika” t-shirts to boot!  I mean it was quite humbling – there were probably 50 people there and shaking and shimmying and shouting felt so damn good.

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AJ really worked hard so I could upload video from my class but the technology is not in my favor today so to view our “sounding release” moment that really was so fun, you can go to my FB page here:

Shimme Sounding Shaking it out!

Here is the poem given to me by my dear friend Vicki that I read as the class focus:

“There is no controlling life. Try corralling a lightning bolt, containing a tornado. Darn a stream and it will create a new channel. Resist, and the tide will sweep you off your feet. Allow, and grace will carry you to higher ground. The only safety lies in letting it all in – the wild and the weak; fear, fantasies failures and success. When loss rips off the doors of the heart, or sadness veils your vision with despair, practice becomes simply bearing the truth. In the choice to let go of your known way of being, the whole world is revealed to your new eyes.” – Danna Faulds

One of my students drew these amazing drawings and then my kids colored them in while they watched the class.  Then all my students signed them.  They are so bright and will for sure be up in my hospital room with me so I can harness all the energy from that studio and bring it with me in my healing.

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Grace Begets Grace

Today is my last day with clients for a while.  It has been an interesting month of “endings” and transition with clients – some of whom I’ve known for years and others whom I’ve seen a short time.  The relationships I get to co-create each day in my work life have always been a true gift to me.  I feel blessed to be able to do such deep and meaningful work – my work as a therapist has always felt so “fitting” to my core self.  The therapist/client relationship is a fascinating relationship really – it is totally unique and when a colleague of mine once described it as “sacred”, that really resonated.  It is sacred.  And saying good-bye (even temporarily) is really hard.

I thought long and hard about whether I would share about my Breast Cancer with clients and, in the end, I listened to the deep part of myself that knew I would need to share it.  I am so glad that I did.  Part of what I value about this work, the therapeutic relationship, and my role – is being authentic.  As I become vulnerable with my clients, I am modeling for them something I so often preach – through vulnerability comes connection.  As I have told each client, there have been beautiful moments that have emerged about our work, about another grief or loss that has been triggered for the client, or about the fragility of life.  These have all been teaching moments and moments of connection – of being real and being human.

It is hard to “let go” with some clients who may be in a more challenging place and yet, as I do diligence on my end with giving referrals and setting up further support, it is a great time for me to also model true self care.  For me to be taking this time and focusing on my own healing is so good and necessary!  I do know and trust that.

I remember once when one of my Nia students asked me what my definition of Grace was.  She was working on her own healing and this was a concept she had been connecting with in Nia and in my classes.  I remember really loving the exploration of this concept – and in these last 7 weeks, it has re-emerged as a strong theme.  There was “grace” present in a recent client session when upon hearing that I had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer, this client said it made him stop and think that “everyone is going through something”.

My friends and family have been so gracious with me – “allowing” me space to find what I need, change plans, cry, laugh – whatever!  And, in turn, I have felt that grace begets grace.  So when I feel this spaciousness, I then can offer it to someone else.  I have LOVED living in this space and can only hope to maintain this sense of grace and allowing.

In fact, the other “ending” that is happening this week is my last Nia class (for a while) at Studio Nia and my Class Focus will be “Finding grace and a sense of allowing/permission in our dance”.  So Portlanders, come dance with me at 9:30 at Studio Nia this Friday if you are interested!

Ok, so I started writing this post at lunch and now I just had my last client and am officially on my leave!!!  Woohoo!!! I get to spend the week before my surgery in Alaska with my entire family.  How wonderful is that!

Tata Celebration

A Tata celebration certainly would not have been complete without nipple cupcakes made by Julie!
A Tata celebration certainly would not have been complete without nipple cupcakes made by Julie!

That’s right!  Got to celebrate them before they go away.  Honoring this transition with my ladies was simply the best.  I love ritual.  Always have.  There is something about acknowledging the fullness of a transition – all that it brings – the gains and losses, the laughter and the tears, and this one did all that plus almost burn down a tree!  For real.

Words cannot express how blessed I feel to have the community of friends around me supporting me and loving me in such a tangible way.  My friend Julie read blogs about “how to support a friend having a mastectomy” to find out what I will need in my recovery and all the ladies got me this giant care package.  I mean who does that?  In fact, I’ve maybe been using just a little avoidance and so having my girls give it to me straight – “yes, you won’t be showering so baby wipes and dry shampoo will be helpful.” – was indeed, very helpful!

As my friend Mersi said, “you can take all these women to your foxhole”.  And that’s a big foxhole!  Or as my sissy Mich said, “it’s like being at your own funeral”, and as strange as that sounds, I know exactly what she means as I get to hear all the ways that I am loved.  This is a gift that I will cherish forever.

Ladies know how to do this shit!  Back in the day we used to have “Blessing Ways” as a ritual to help prepare us for childbirth and the transition of becoming a mom.  And one thing we always do right is FOOD!  AJ used to say “those Blessing Ways ain’t no Portland hummus and gluten free crackers kind of potluck”.  That’s right – we nurture in every way – food included.  And I feel so nurtured.  This felt like my “booby way” because I am prepared in ways that I was most definitely not before.  Most importantly, in that I have the love, strength and support of all my girls – near and far.  Plus, now I have hard candies, lip balm and even a wedge pillow – so yes, I am ready as I will ever be!  Thank you ladies present with me and there in spirit.  Although crawling into bed at 2 am made for quite a rough next day, I would do it all again!

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And then that "casting" almost burnt the tree down!
And then that “casting” almost burnt the tree down!

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Little “E’s” Everywhere – more of them! :)

My friend Julie Miller who I have known since the 7th grade sent me this photo.  And I’ve been hearing from people all over – my cousins and old colleagues, friends from different facets and times of my life – so many who are sporting these snazzy bracelets (thanks to Julie Smith who is busy sending them to folks everywhere)!  It feels like this giant ring of support knowing that these little “E’s” are around the wrists of so many of my loved ones.  And I just LOVE this image and the thought!  Makes me think that our upcoming family trip to Alaska pre surgery is about the best preparation I could have.

Four Generations of love in the Gorge!
Four Generations of love in the Gorge!
From my best gal Molly McIntyre in her yard in Boulder, CO!
From my best gal Molly McIntyre in her yard in Boulder, CO!
My friend Jen Coffin in Lake Tahoe.
My friend Jen Coffin in Lake Tahoe. Oh I am sure getting around this summer! :) Love it.
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From my sweet Jules, “Took you to Glacier with me…one of these places that makes you feel so small and where everything seems to somehow make sense! “

The Dance of Love

What would I do without dancing!  I mean I count my lucky stars every day that I get to dance almost every day….and even get paid for it! :)  Seriously even when I am bone tired lately and I get to class feeling scattered and unprepared, my students are gracious and my 15 years of teaching just leads me through…and I ALWAYS feel better.  Having some time to get out of my head and feeling my body strong is so important for me right now.  I feel it is a superb way for me to prepare for surgery – to be at my strongest.  And the love and support that surrounds me in the Nia community is powerful.

The longest break I’ve ever had from teaching Nia was for 6 months in 2008.  I had to stop teaching about 6 months into my pregnancy with Avery due to pelvic pain and then I returned 2 months postpartum.  It actually always amazes me that I could teach anything for 15 years!  This is a testament to the work of Nia and it’s depth and dynamic nature – that I am constantly growing with it.  So now I prepare for another break from teaching.  I had my last class at my studio yesterday and look at the loving and thoughtful gifts my students brought.  So lovely!

loving and thoughtful gifts given to me by my loveliest Nia students at my last day  teaching Nia at my studio - Studio Sol
loving and thoughtful gifts given to me by my loveliest Nia students at my last day teaching Nia at my studio – Studio Sol

And then I arrive to Studio Nia this morning and they have created these t-shirts for my entire class to wear to my class on my last day there which will be June 26!  I felt quite humbled really.  I LOVE that the very body of work I created – called “Surviving to Thriving” which is my integration of Nia and therapy – is now on this t-shirt to support me.  Really, quite astounding that I will now travel this path.  How blessed I am to have such an amazing community of support – dancing the dance of LOVE!!!!

t-shirts made by Studio Nia for my entire class to where on my last day before surgery
t-shirts made by Studio Nia for my entire class to where on my last day before surgery