Tag Archives: Toni Blackman Wellness

French fries call my name….

I am on a healing path.  It is my intention to move my body back into balance, to reverse the health conditions that are troubling me, to shrink the “growths” that are in my body temple, to maintain and manage my energy, my vibrance and to feel good more often than not.

The more I learn about nutritional medicine, the use of plants and natural substances to heal and the importance of emotional wellness, the more I realize that we should be working in partnership with our doctors instead of going to them for all of the answers.  You know your body better than anyone else. This is one of the reasons that allopathic or mainstream medicine does not resonate with me.  I see little proof of it making a difference other than in emergency/crisis situations. I was given all sorts of allergy and asthma medications from age six to 26 and I am sure those drugs caused various kinds of damage.  I mean, we’ve all seen the pharmaceutical commercials for new meds and heard the long list of side of effects at the end. I’m not against hospitals but would love to be a part of a movement to make them better.

Part of my contribution to this movement is to share what I am learning and to be as transparent as possible about my challenges.  It is not an easy path, but there are no magic pills and no quick fixes. Healing Naturally is more of a video diary that I’m making public.

This short video clip speaks to how there are some days where fried food seems to call my name.  It’s as if we were old loves unable to part from one another.  It’s as if I was somehow wired to want these things cooked in high heat and lots of oil.  The logical part of me knows it’s programming, socialization and habit.  The emotional part of me knows it’s about memories of a huge cast iron skillet on grandma’s stove frying up everything from chicken that looked and tasted better than any restaurant to hot water cornbread soon to be dipped in honey.  I know how good I feel when I’m eating lots of fresh living foods, when I’m eating fruits and vegetables, drinking my fresh juices and smoothies, but this stuff is like a monkey on my back.  It’s hard to understand why because there are physical consequences when I slip.  I’m staying inspired because I confronted sugar addiction, wheat and bread, dairy and candy and none of that bothers me anymore so I know I can do it. I just need your prayers, your affirmations and maybe a 12 step fried fish and french fry support group.

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Healing Naturally: Self-Exposure and Nakedness

bright sunThe morning is here.  The sun is peeking through the curtains as if to say let’s do this, you’ve slept enough already. The blueness of the sky has returned, the clouds seem happy to not be filled with rain and the air looks deceivingly warm. It is not warm. I am in the Blue Ridge Mountains where snow fell in October just the other night. It is 31°F.  It is October and I am not mentally prepared for winter.

Winter preparation means preparing my mind for massive amounts of self-love and discipline. It means massaging my heart just as good as I massage my kale and enrolling a serious circle of accountability to support me in my healing protocol. The journey is a blend of adventure and routine.  Letting go of old habits and forming new ones, especially new ways of thinking, is not for the weak.  Although I at times feel weak, I know for sure that I am strong enough to accomplish my personal and professional goals. Oh, and then there’s the work to prepare for the book release, but that’s another post for another day. Today is Sunday, a day I shall use for going within.

I am revisiting my video blog, Healing Naturally, as a way to keep myself accountable and to practice sharing consistently.  I started out strong then stopped posting even though I was still recording posts.  Exploring and exposing my fears, anxieties and areas of weakness just didn’t feel cool.  Authentic sharing requires lots of courage, a willingness to be naked and let it all go.  Well, I made myself the promise of a huge break through by the end of 2014.  I intend to live and love boldly. The break through is not going to happen with me standing on the sidelines, hiding under the covers or sitting quietly in the corner pretending to meditate. Nope, my purpose was revealed to me at 10 years old and I’m about that life of honoring it. Look for posts once or twice a week on my youtube channel.  Please comment on youtube, LIKE, subscribe and share your story too!

Stressed Out: Healing in the Midst of it All

Toni Shining the LightI’ve reached a new level of “healing” with my body.  I am detoxing, eating to live, exercising, meditating and de-cluttering my car, my closets and my files.   I don’t know what’s going to happen next but I’m channeling the prayer warrior skills of the elders from St. Marks Baptist Church, a place where the old folks would moan the spiritual hymns.  It smelled of Avon perfume and sweet potato pie and was filled with women and men from the deepest parts of Louisiana.  I am choosing to believe that I can heal  and if there is surgery needed I  will have a speedy recovery.

Part of my healing approach involves minimizing stress and anxiety.  Right now, many of us are functioning at a heightened state of awareness as we see injustice being replayed on our television and computer screens.  It’s hard to fathom how our ancestors coped with all of this nonsense.  Although the church no longer functions as the safe haven that it once was, I am understanding why it was so important to our grandparents.

I am finding it impossible to be signed in and not read, watch and listen to every single thing about Ferguson. I am finding it challenging to not think of my heart as an aching machine with I think of Mike Brown’s friends and family. I am finding it difficult to not cry at least 2 to 3 times a day. Behind on work  and deadlines, important meaningful work that I believe makes a difference, I find myself needing to check out–often. 

New research revealed that the shorter lifespan of Black men can be partially attributed to the pressures they deal with in society. I know, I know it seems like common sense, but there is now scientific proof  that racial discrimination causes a reaction in the body and impacts stress hormones in a myriad of negative ways. This same stress affects Black women and children as well.  It’s the build up of micro-assaults and the cumulative affect of dealing with them that creates health issues and conditions that can lead to early death.

This morning, I signed onto Facebook and saw that an old friend and classmate who I love and adore is on the ground in Ferguson.  Within 20 minutes I felt a knot form in the upper left quadrant of my back. I was immediately reminded of the importance of feeling my feelings, not trying to stuff them and why we must let the tears fall. I did a prayer for him and his safety.  I then repeated the following:

I release all pain. I release all stress. I release all fear. I release all anxiety. I release all worry. I release all anger. I release all resentment. I release all fear. I release all pain. I release all fear. I release all pain. I am filled with good, with love, with light, with faith. 

Sunset in Yamoussoukro

One of my little “sisters” works in a conservative corporate environment in the south and is dealing with daily microaggressions that have intensified now with recent events in the news.  My recent conversations with her reveal classic stereotypes about Black women and textbook examples of the stresses that women face.  She is expected to be strong, to carry more work than others, to not be emotional, to work without acknowledgment and to not complain.  When she complains she is perceived as angry.

The strong Black woman stereotype is another issue for us to address because many of us internalize it adding even more weight to our wellness challenges. I no longer try to be strong.  I admit when I feel powerless and frustrated while at the same time clinging to the idea that I/we can overcome any challenge as long as we believe it’s possible.  Managing stress means being present to how I feel at any given moment, monitoring what I ingest mentally, emotionally and energetically and establishing practices and rituals that support me feeling peace within. I just don’t have the luxury of being able to not manage my emotions. Stress shows up as physical reactions (i.e. illness) in my body and it is my intention to be well. Insomnia, binge eating or loss of appetite can be a reaction for some women. In my body, anger, rage, fear and worry each trigger symptoms like physical joint and pelvic pain, nausea, a weakened immune system, tension in the back and hips, edema, even more painful PMS symptoms and worsened monthly cycle issues.

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This month I am channeling the prayer warrior women of my childhood.  Here are a few of the things that I do to stay as grounded as possible.  Check out the list below:

1)Slow down and take a minute to just breathe and pay attention to the breath. There are plenty of breathing exercises on youtube where you can learn how to breathe properly if you want to go deeper.

2)Do a body scan.  Go from the bottom of your feet to the crown of your head paying attention to the places where there is tension and letting it go. Wiggle your toes, move your hips, breathe into your back, relax your tongue and loosen your facial muscles. When we’re busy we often forget to check-in on our bodies.

3)Listen to inspirational audio.  It might be religious or spiritual, it may be motivational or meditational, but find audio that helps you to tune into ways of thinking that benefit you and your health.

4)Take walks, exercise and/or dance. Movement helps us to release tension.

5)Stay in touch with loved ones.  It’s easy to feel isolated so stay connected to those who love you and make you feel safe.

6)Don’t hesitate to seek out support or professional help if the pressure gets to feel like too much to bear or if it’s consuming you. I see a counselor who is also an energy healer rooted in spiritual healing practices and I sometimes go to a monthly healing circle she facilitates.

 

 

4 Quick Tips & Lessons From My Healing Journey

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Let’s start with a few take-aways from the healing process so far:

1)Take care of your mind first. Don’t beat yourself up when you have to ease up on your plan.

2)Create a community of supporters who are fully enrolled in your being well. It may only be 2 or 3 other people but identify people to help you be accountable and inspired.

3)Be prepared to let some people go while on your journey. Some folks are a hindrance to wellness because the new you makes them uncomfortable. Bless them with love and create distance.

4)Own your choice to heal naturally.  Thicken your skin. Be prepared to speak the truth to whomever needs to hear it. Set those boundaries and honor your own inner-guidance.

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As a foodie and lover of all things tasty, I never imagined myself being so in love with the food lifestyle I’ve adopted. I’ve bought a 9 Tray dehydrator, a Vita-Mix and a food processor. Then I turned into an 8 year old on her birthday when my mom sent me a NutriBullet.  I was so excited when I opened that box.

Still with all of these tools and equipment, I’m discovering that the first priority on my wellness journey is me.  It’s not my diet or food plan, not the exercise, herbs or the acupuncture, but it’s me.  When I say me I mean my mind, my attitude and my beliefs about getting/being well. One of my accountability partners is battling lupus like a fierce warrior. She’s incredibly physically fit now and committed to her work out activities, but today realized that her mind was a priority and the gym was secondary. She chose a peaceful walk in the park instead of her normal routine. Choosing peace sometimes means missing a workout. Once we’re centered we can actually get the true benefits from our healing activities whether it’s food or exercise.

Julia, an acupuncturist/ healer at Third Root Community Healing Center in Brooklyn often speaks about how important community is to making health changes and healing the body. Walking this wellness journey with women who have just as much at stake as me has made such a huge difference in my life. Having that exchange with one of my wellness partners this morning reminded me to focus on peace, to choose a few hours of quiet.  My circle has served as a protective shield from loved ones who either with good intention and sometimes judgment say/think some of the darndest  things about my choices.

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People can be impatient, unknowingly insensitive and selfish.  Unless one has been on a healing journey of their own, I’m finding that it can hard for them to have compassion. The phrases “but you look so good” and “but you don’t look sick” is so far from a statement of support. A person may not look ill and they may not carry the disposition of a “sick” person but it does not mean they don’t still need the same amount of love, support and encouragement on their wellness journey.  There are so many women suffering quietly from symptoms triggered by tumors and cysts, lupus and other autoimmune related dis-eases, diabetes, sleep disorders, severe food allergies and insensitivities, fibromyalgia and the list goes on.  This is more evidence as to why random kindness is a good idea. You never really know what another person is going through.

The changes I have made in my life have not been easy. It has affected my friendships, my interaction with family and loved ones, my social life, what I eat and how I eat it, my work and my schedule.  I am reading and watching youtube videos for one to two hours a day so I can learn as much as possible about how to heal myself. I still have to navigate through a corporatized medical system that is designed for crisis care but not prevention and health care. Then I have to figure out how to afford staying alive while making time for the rest of my life. Oh, and don’t forget eating right and exercise.  It’s possible to reverse most conditions but it is not without dedication and sacrifice.  It can also be the unpopular choice. Still, I am choosing life.

Growing up on the standard American diet (i.e. SAD), being medicated (asthma/allergies) for the first 25 years of my life and having no awareness of how stress and sadness impacts the body all resulted in a toxic body and a compromised immune system that I am now patiently committed to healing.  I choose wellness. I choose me. I choose life.  I’ll continue to share insights that I’ve gained and please check out my video diary:  Healing Naturally.  It hasn’t been as easy to share as I thought it would be but I’m committed to doing posts at least once a week:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9U0tczpnNKk They will post on my Youtube channel:  www.youtube.com/user/ToniB104.

Be well.