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Worthy Men, Third Edition: Nathan Hedge "Hog"

October 27, 2016

Who: Nathan Hedge "Hog" (IG@nhedge_hog)

Occupation: Pro athlete, WSL surfer, surf coach and brand ambassador for Salty Crew and Mauli Ola Foundation

Location: Narrabeen, Australia

Nathan, "Hog" or "Hoggy"... is a legend.

I haven't heard one person being described as the same one word over and over again as I have heard him being called a legend from everyone that knows him. He truly is one in every way. Not only does he absolutely kill it in the surfing world, was Top 10 on the WSL World Tour two years in a row, but he also gives back more than most people I know and is an absolute gentleman to every single person he comes into contact with.

Hoggy literally beams with light and brightens up anyone's day that he comes across. He is beyond humble and kind. He is always looking for an opportunity to ask you how you are doing or help you in any way. He is a man of service, in the most reverant way. He is someone that has gone through the darkness to get to the light, and now appreciates every single ray.

Boys and grown men alike look up to this guy for all the right reasons, and I personally hope you share this article with his advice in it to as many of them as possible because the more of them that read this the better off we will all be; he has some of the most simple yet complete advice for all of us.

I would also like to give a big shout out to his recent celebration of 5 years of sobriety!!!! And also the recent marriage to the lady of his dreams, Stacey! Clearly this man is winning at life :)

hog-1024x607

1) Who are you?

I'm Australian, 37 yrs young ;)

I'm someone who likes to live life to the fullest & have travelled the world many times over. Surfing has blessed me with countless cultural experiences & allowed me to connect with people all over the globe.

2) What is the greatest challenge you have overcome/are overcoming?

Overcoming alcohol & substance abuse.

My life had become a series of train wreck after train wreck, although from the outside things seemed ok. Sure I had my house on the lake, a BMW ( X5 ) in the garage, 6 figure contracts, a girlfriend, I was in the top 10 on the WSL World Tour for the second year in a row. Just came off most improved award for the following year. But, inside I was a mess.

I took 3 separate stints in rehab facilities. The final one being a 6 month live-in with an additional 2 months give back program to the community. I completed that life changing journey in June 2012.

My clean/ sober date is October 17th 2011.

3) What have you learned?

What I learned from that experience is that NOTHING outside of myself can fix me or make me feel good in the long run. No contest win or money or relationship or status or food or drink or gambling, nothing will be great until I get my relationship with ME right first. For me it's been about allowing a loving God and higher power to work miracles in my life. But it's no good just praying, you have to put the action in and take each challenge one day at a time and don't feel weak about asking for help. There is a world of help out there and in my experience people are so willing to assist and elevate you to reach your potential once you show your commitment to yourself. The universe has a unique way of making things happen, doors open up and the path becomes straight... but you've got to want it enough, want it so bad that you'll go to any length. If you're not there yet, no one can help you and you'll go through more tough lessons. Everyone has there time and special journey. I'm extremely grateful for each and every lesson

Worthy Men, Second Edition: James Sol Radina

August 4, 2016

Who: James Sol Radina (IG:@jimmysol)

Occupation: CEO of BioCBD (http://www.biocbdplus.com/)

Location: Kauai, Hawaii

James is one of my dearest friends. Actually, he's more like a brother. I wouldn't know him if its wasn't for Somer, my friend whom he is about to marry. I have lived with them for weeks on end in Kauai, and seen him in all different situations. Here is what I have witnessed: he is the first responder to help, he is kind and patient, he is creative, he does about 100 things in a day and does them all with care, and he always speaks with love and respect.

He is always growing, evolving and refining. He NEVER sees himself as the victim. He is on the very top of my go-to list for advice. He, Somer and I have spent many mornings doing Kundalini Meditations on the deck of their house in Haena that will forever be in my memory.

I love how authentic and vulnerable his share is and I can't wait for to share it with you. This could absolutely read as an instruction guide to a young man looking how to go from being a boy to a man. Or a man to a better version of himself. I can't think of anyone I would rather be the husband of one of my best friends in the world; I know he will take such good care of her because I have seen it, day in and day out.

Sat nam,

Elise

1) Who are you?

I am seeker. A seeker of everything. A seeker of nothing. Mostly a seeker of truths. I am so curious to how life works and why we are here. I crave to know how this world works. I love more than anything, uncovering the inner truths of my own being while also learning everything I can about the outer world in which we all share. I have flipped my reality upside down so many times lately, which at first causes massive confusion, but usually rests in a new found "Aha Moment."

For example, one day I realized I was constantly judging people. It was not on purpose, it was automatic. After much reflection and bringing awareness to this, I started to imagine what kind of life they might have had in order to be who they are and now I find myself sending compassion to people rather than placing judgements. I try to imagine myself walking in their shoes. The truth is, everyone has felt pain and suffering in their life, everyone has love in their hearts and we all feel the same emotions of anger, frustration, joy, bliss, etc. I have had many dark days and nights, so who am I to judge anyone? So when I seek, I seek to find greater love for myself and all of humanity, even when it is hard. And especially when it is hard.

I practice the Eastern Philosophies of non-attachment. So I don't hold onto anything too tight. I have found that holding onto things keeps my mind closed to new discoveries. Since this was not taught to me growing up, quite the opposite actually, I stumble with this one. Yet at the same time, I can see the massive progress I have made. So you could say I am attached to being non-attached.

I love to play in the moment as much as possible, which is not always the easiest thing, but I have been on this path for many years now and I love the results that this has created in my life. Living in the moment, to me, means finding gratitude and grace inside of the way things are; exactly as they are. I have not always been this way, as most of my life I spent wishing I was different or the things around me were different. Now I practice active surrender each and every day mixed with lots of gratitude. Surrendering, yet showing up and walking my path.

I am a meditator and a yogi, yet someone whose path is not to sit silent in a cave, but rather show up and walk the earth supporting in anyway that I can. I am a supporter in my core, sometimes to a fault. Sometimes I find I will over sacrifice my own health and well being to support others. I continue to learn my lessons here.

Also, I am a lifelong learner. I'm a really good friend with a lot of really good friends. I consider my closest friends my family, my chosen family. I am a world citizen and traveler. I wish my passport said Planet Earth as my home instead of the USA. I am a surfer. I love just about every sport, am extremely active and being in nature is my church. I am an entrepreneur with multiple companies focusing on medicinal benefits of cannabis.

I am recently engaged and very much looking forward to a full moon October 2016 wedding and being an amazing husband. And finally, I am really looking forward to being a father!

2) What is the greatest challenge you have overcome/are overcoming?

Self Worth. I continue to find areas where I show up playing small. It's a sneaky little trick that many times I don't uncover until after the fact. Or I make a decision only for myself to look back and see how it came from a place of lack or scarcity. I have seen this show up in many different environments of my life. It shows up in the dynamics between my father and my brother, the two family members closest to me. It also shows up in my relationship with my fiancé (a whole lot less now as I have done a lot of work here, more on this later).

Mostly I find areas that I am operating from a place of lack in my businesses. To give some context, I find myself in the fastest growing industry in the US, with three companies where I am CEO, in which are all growing yet need an upgrade of teams and additional capital. Asking people to join your team or invest in your company, is an interesting process to say the least...at least for me. Many people I am sure are great at this, but due to my unique upbringing, my life's history, failures and life lessons of my past, I continue to find my negative mind focusing on all the areas that could be "better" or "done differently", instead of focusing on all the "wins" and areas of deep "gratitude" I have for where these companies have evolved. Every day I am constantly "checking in" with gratitude, otherwise my mind wants to create a story of lack. For example, on one hand the impact on our customer's lives we are creating is priceless (over 23 pages of testimonials) and the revenue we are generating is great after just 15 months in business. Yet for some reason, my past conditioning brings in a story that I could doing "better," we should have "more" market share or we should be growing "faster". More, better and faster are desires that come from a place of lack, of not seeing the good in exactly the way things are, and I have found that this "tape" or "story" running in my head will never end by getting "somewhere" and there is no destination "out there" that will make me ever feel enough. Feeling worthy, or feeling MORE than enough, is an internal journey. It is the journey I am working on right now and probably the biggest one of my life as it is deep and stemming from some childhood traumas.

It's an interesting process. I have read that I am not alone, as many people in the Western world are dealing with this sentiment as well. Yet I believe I am alone, as this is mine to do. I believe we are our own best doctor. We are our own best guru. And like so many other blocks in my life, once I am aware of them, I take them head on to uncover the truth behind all the fears.

3) What have you learned?

It feel like I am on two paths. One is to uncover the "inner world" truths about what makes me come alive versus what shuts me down. On this path I have uncovered so many walls & blocks, that have stemmed from my childhood, which were keeping me from truly being open. For example, I found myself in multiple long term relationships in my adult life, yet I always had one foot out the door. I would never truly allow my heart to open fully. I was always thinking the grass was greener "out there". And I would always blame the woman I was with for why things were not working. This caused a lot of pain and suffering in my life. Well, it turns out, I wasn't fully allowing love into my heart and I was so scared of losing the relationship that I would protect myself by running away. I would never allow myself to go all in. If it started getting too deep and serious, I would find a way to blow it all up. It took me until I was 34 years old to finally see this. Luckily I had been on a journey seeking the inner path, which led me to working on opening my heart, taking full responsibility for my failed relationships and coming to the realization I wasn't fully letting myself accept love. This was a pattern I was stuck in that was no longer ok with me. My mother died when I was 4 in a car accident. So for most of my life, I have been unconsciously operating from where a scared little boy was calling the shots. I think that every time things got too close or I had a fear of loss, I would shut down. And it has taken massive amounts of inner work to get to where I am now; engaged and less than 90 days away from marring my dream girl. Whew, this was no small feat! And on the other side, I can say this was my greatest lesson. It's amazing how our darkest hours are our biggest life lessons. Which sums up this point....when doing my "inner work" I seek to find the parts of me that are uncomfortable with the way life is. I bring awareness to these areas where I close down. Then I find my core root belief systems and unconscious patterns, let them go, no matter how long it takes, and re-write the script finding a new way to be comfortable in what used to make me uncomfortable.

The second path I find myself on, is my personal path to uncover how to best fully show up in the outer world. What is mine to do? I love the path of Paramahansa Yogananda, Jesus, Buddha, Mother Teresa, Nahko Bear, Michael A. Singer, Gandhi and so many other saints and sages. These are my mentors, as they are real examples of what success looks like. They all understood the importance of the inner world and how it directly impacted their ability to truly BE in the outer world. They all have found their unique expression in life and how they inspired millions by just showing up as themselves. I have found the same. Over and over I have found, that as I uncover my true nature, I am in turn able to show up more fully for my family, my relationships and for humanity. As a seeker of ancient wisdom, I learn first then immediately apply the lessons to my life. These Great Ones I mentioned above are my favorite examples of people that authentically walked and talked from a place that could only be discovered by going within and realizing their own inner truths.

For most of my life, I was seeking validation from the outside world. I grew up thinking success was based on how much money I made and what other people thought of me. I grew up on a small 40 acre farm in rural Kansas, went to a high school with a graduating class of 31, owned and operated two night clubs through college, then moved to San Diego in hopes to make millions in real estate. I found myself going to clubs 4 nights a week, Vegas once a month, and well, basically numbing myself.

Then meditation found it's way into my life (which was extremely hard and even painful at first)....and then yoga. Now I find myself with all types of tools, such as Kundalini Yoga for the ultimate hack for quieting the mind, using mantras for manifesting experiences, mudras, breathwork, Hatha Yoga, guided meditations, Earthing and so much more. These tools are critical to my life. They all are needed in quieting my monkey mind, which is constantly trying to get in the way of seeing the inner and outer truths I so much desire to understand. The Bhagavad Gita, like the Bible and Tao Te Ching, is considered one of the greatest sacred texts ever discovered. It is about a war between good and evil, which is really one big allegory revealing the battle we all face each day with our ego, between fear and love. For me, I strive to be awake and stay awake, so that I may see when I get lost in the mind versus operating from my heart. I am in constant observation of when I might be operating from my child self out of fear versus my Higher Self out of love. I am constantly starving the "Bad Wolf" and feeding the ever thriving "Good Wolf".

This is my path. It is an unknown, unwritten path. I am in constant exploration of new adventures. I surrender to the unknown that lies ahead and choose to embrace whatever life brings me next. I choose to walk heart open, heart forward and love more in all aspects of life. Enemy of none, friend of all. Taking full responsibility for my life and how this world affects me.

Worthy Men, First Edition: David Wolfe

July 7, 2016

Worthy Women is taking a hiatus while we honor the masculine for the next 6 months. I have had so much fun featuring women that I admire...but I thought it was time to balance things out. There are so many amazing men in this world, too!

Who: David Wolfe (IG @davidavocadowolfe)

Occupation: Rock Star/Indiana Jones of the Superfoods and Longevity Universe (http://www.davidwolfe.com)

Location: Where's Waldo

I think I first met David (who introduced himself as "Avocado", so that is what I have personally always called him)...about 7 years ago. He was speaking about Superfoods at the Worldbeat Cultural Center downtown. At the time, this was a buzz word, not the staple in nutrition vocabulary that it has become today. He was the first person to educate us about these mostly exotic foods and also make them available to us in the United States. Since then, he has expanded to health, beauty, herbalism, and nutrition.

But when I think of him, I immediately think of cacao (chocolate). Yes, it's a superfood, my favorite one actually. But if you have met him or heard him speak...you know what I am talking about. I thought, "This guy has got to be on a lot of cacao."

He has A LOT of energy. And it's contagious.

He might or might not be on cacao all the time, few will ever know. But he is definitely a man on a mission to make this world a better place through the food we eat...what we choose, how it is sourced, planted, grown, and harvested. These are extremely important topics for the future of our health and if you aren't concerned with these things yet, you should be.

He wants us to live longer, healthier lives and has no problem paving the way for us.

David has a great sense of humor, never takes himself too seriously, is fiercely passionate about his beliefs and loyal to the end. He has integrity when others have none and is not driven by money or greed. I am a fan for life.

Sat nam,

Elise

1) Who are you?

An orator: I'm old school in this category: an original reincarnated classical Greek orator.

An adventurer and explorer: I've traveled the world relentlessly for 20 years without being in one place for more than 4 weeks.

A tree planter: I founded a non-profit Fruit Tree Planting Foundation in 2002 (www.ftpf.org) that has officially planted over 500,000 fruit trees worldwide and unofficially over 1,000,000 fruit, nut, and medicinal trees worldwide.

A spring water hunter: I was inspired by the Austrian Water Wizard Viktor Schauberger to hunt down springs at their source sometime around the year 2000. Since then, I have hunted down over 300 springs on 5 continents.

A drummer: I have no natural talent in this department, but somehow I've kept at it for 28 years making steady improvements.

A gardener: This is a deep LOVE connected to my soul.

A student of soil: What a subject to study! Dirt.

A student of Nature: Always studying and trying to comprehend Nature and reality.

A doubter of things claimed to be scientific and unquestionable: If it's unquestionable, it's questionable.

A medicine maker: Growing, harvesting, finding and/or picking medicine for myself and others is plant spirit medicine.

This is the first thing I thought of when I read this question, so I put it last: I am a spiritually oriented person: I believe and feel my soul is from somewhere else that is in a body here on the Earth plane.

2) What is the greatest challenge you have overcome/are overcoming?

My biggest daily challenges include two components:

1. Getting motivated to learn new skills and perform with those new skills in a way that gets the job done professionally and without having to re-do the job later. It seems like I am constantly having to learn new skills and execute those skills at a high level of performance without any previous experience. Whether it's the computer, plumbing, electrical, house repair, automotive, interpersonal, family-related, this issue consistently comes up.

2. Efficiency and getting enough essential work, play, learning, exercise and relationship time in every day. Its non-stop all day long, every day. I don't take days off. Its work, play, learning, exercise and personal relationship development non-stop.

By reviewing my life, the greatest challenges have always led to the greatest victories. That's reassuring, so I focus on that concept when going through difficult times.

Overall, every day my goal is to have The Best Day Ever. That means that each day is: love-filled (people, places, plants) as well as physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, socially and financially fulfilling.

3) What have you learned?

Doing a thing with excellence is always important - and never trouble.

Karma is real. Help to make the world a better place with all your actions and you will be rewarded in this and future lifetimes.

Reincarnation is real. You take the results of your actions including your victories and skills with you into your next life.

Love holds the multiverse together.

Magic and synchronicity are real and an ever-present reality.

The Earth is a paradise; a heaven. The human dynamic on Earth indicates we are socially and spiritually residing in hell realms - if 0 = hell and 100 = heaven, the human dynamic on Earth is about a 23. However, as of recently, the undercurrent of the human dynamic is turning towards love, spirituality, cooperation, health, awareness, choices, freedom, happiness, open-mindedness, etc. while the momentum of the old ways: suppression, tyranny, destruction, competition, secret societies, materialism, close-mindedness, fundamentalism, faith-based belief in scientism is starting to come apart at the seams. We are headed up on the scale, which has to be a good sign.

Worthy Women, Sixth Edition: Heather Lindemenn

June 10, 2016

Who: Heather Lindemenn (heatherlindemenn.com)

Occupation: Spiritual Guide and Bullshit Slayer

Location: Vista, CA

The first time I remember meeting Heather, it was about 7 years ago with a good friend in Lotus Cafe and she(pretty randomly) said to me that I had dark circles under my eyes and that I probably had a thyroid issue. If that happened to me now, I think I would be more intrigued than anything and (hopefully) say, 'Cool, thanks... I will have that tested."

At the time it really threw me off, (who knows, maybe it was the pendulum on her necklace she seemed to be referring to for answers?!) ... and I was so astounded I don't think I said anything!

I ended up having some things tested about a year later, totally unrelated to her comment, and low and behold... my thyroid was off. My first thought was of her and the courage it must have taken to think that and then say it to someone you barely know.

So... as much as I'm sure she's not using the pendulum anymore... this is Heather in a nutshell. She is pretty much always right. Not in the "I told you so" way. Don't get me wrong, you might not(think you) want to hear it; but she is not so concerned with that. What she IS concerned with is truth and healing and breaking through the well, err... bull shit(those would be her words, and frankly there is no better way to say it). And it's normally with ourselves.

What you see is what you get; she's a straight-shooter, and will tell you every embarrassing story in her life in an effort for us all to laugh and grow from it. She is what I would say almost every single one of us needs, especially women! I felt close to her since I sat in one of her Women's Circles long ago. I loved that she cussed and was sometimes loud and not always on time or "perfect," it made me relax and feel welcome and relax enough to absorb what she had to say. And you always want to hear what she has to say... TRUST ME. She has the gems! And she always shares!!!

I credit Heather for the beginning of me opening up to the Feminine, Women's Groups and the power of women in general when we bond together. I credit Heather for a lot of things, and you will surely see why in the interview... by the way, you might want to take notes on this one!

Sat nam,

Elise

1) Who are you?

I am bullshit slayer.

I am a beach born baby, raised on VG donuts from Cardiff By The Sea, Ca.

I am a crusader for the voice of the HEART.

I am a wife to the kindest man alive.

I am a daughter of a beautiful mamma who died from cancer when I was 23.

I am a sherpa to women who are being called HOME to themselves.

I am a stepmom to a brave young Goddess.

I am a devoted servant to the FIRE of real deal, life changing, HOLY SHIFTING, Transformation. (Mine and yours)

I am a fiercely loving and protective friend.

I am a Seducer of TRUTH. I use humor, love and maybe a few curse words to call women into a sacred SEEING of themselves that transforms their lives from the inside out.

I am a doggie mamma of two yummy rescued fur babies.

I am available to SEE myself fully. (and that means ALL parts not just the fun beach baby, donut eating, fierce sherpa, seducer of truth, good friend, happy doggie mamma parts.

2) What is the greatest challenge you have overcome/are overcoming?

SEEING that "I" burden LIFE with carrying the face of my wounds.

Experiencing the TRUTH of this statement was and IS a total game changer for me.

SEEING that my unresolved stuff is actually playing itself out in my life delivers me back into the driver's seat, INSTANTLY!

No it's not easy, and YES it's worth it...

You see, I'm not much into wasting time and money and I like my "medicine" STRONG. So when my life started to completely crumble (divorce, failed business, total lack of faith in The Divine and myself) I realized that the core of my BIG repeating issues might just be in me...

At that pivotal point in my life I screamed to the universe, "I'm fucked and I need to get un~fucked... NOW".

That's when my first teacher arrived in my life and fast, fast, forward I was initiated into this POTENT way of experiencing myself. I was quickly SOLD on this navigation because not only did "LIFE" start showing up differently, my relationship with myself started to heal + my intuition was ignited and MOST important of all, my difficult, exhausting, repeating patterns began to disappear.

Now the challenge of this is that I will always have something inside I can't see or feel, so when "stuff" arises ultimately I MUST arrive back in ME. (This IS my constant "walk my talk" practice)

And THIS is the foundation of the work I do with other women. No it isn't a self blame game. This is a return to oneself where we experience a deep intimacy within... Dare I say Oneness within ourselves.

And from this place of oneness those well sought after experiences TRULY arise... You know those ones we affirm ourselves to death with, those experiences we "practice" ourselves into a dither about: like, Forgiveness, acceptance, gratitude, authenticity and the ability to be PRESENT. These experiences begin to "happen" without effort or practice...

3) What have you learned?

I have learned that an intimate relationship with "Life" (money, partnership, God etc.) starts with an intimate relationship with myself.

If "He's not there for me" If "they won't listen to me", If They don't love me" then I go directly to ME..

I am I there for me?

Am I listening to ME?

Do I LOVE ME?

It all starts and ends with me...

I have learned that Forgiveness, Gratitude, Acceptance of self and others and true Compassion, are all Grace filled, hand of The Divine style "happenings", that start with me SEEING that I DON'T, Forgive, that I lack Gratitude, that I CAN'T Accept myself or others...

It's a "start where you are, not where you want to be conversation".

THEN the fullness of the experience we desire can arise. (key word FULLNESS)

I have learned that RESISTANCE will rear it's ugly head whenever I set out to do anything that that results in me living my dreams.

The bigger the dream the bigger the resistance! Like writing this Blog for example. I'm living my life with a passion to help women wake up and finally live life instead of merely existing... Elise invited me into the Worthy Women series and it IS A HUGE honor for me and an amazing platform to share my gifts AND I have resisted sitting my ass down to write for WEEKS!!!!

Having you here with me right now IS a huge GIFT! Thank you Elise for this amazing opportunity!

Amen, and a fanny spank...

Things aren't always what they seem...

June 2, 2016

JEP days

This photo was from when I owned a fashion boutique called JEP in La Jolla, about 10 years ago. It was taken for Riviera Magazine, I think because my store was on the Top Hot List (or something like that). JEP made a lot of money, was recognized in Vogue as one of the best Beach Boutiques in the world, and I was awarded one of the Top 40 Professionals under 40 during that same time frame... I was 26-30 years old. My life seemed incredible from the outside. In many ways, it was.

But my point is that things aren't always what they seem, as hopefully we are all aware of. I had worked a full time job, plus full time school during most of my college years. I pushed things in all areas of my life, including exercise and even socializing/partying. At the time of the photo, I was working 70+ hours a week for five years straight. I was "successful" but overwhelmed, exhausted and anxious. My adrenals were tanked, I had a parasite and started getting auto-immune issues. I didn't know what any of those things were at the time and thought myself too busy to learn or care. I am not saying that we shouldn't push ourselves or be motivated, but that stressful time in my life, combined with an absence of tools to deal with it in balance, sent my health into a downward spiral. Even though I have been working on it since then, I am just now, ten years later starting to feel truly healthy again.

I got into Holistic Healing(to help others as well as myself) and started Rolfing around 9 years ago. I have been a Nutritional Counselor for about five years. But even as I was eating healthy and "doing all the right things", my health issues were slowly getting more serious, as were many of my clients' challenges that were coming my way. This pushed me to complete my credential in Functional Diagnostic Nutrition and brings this story to the present... where I facilitate most of the tests your doctor would give you, but interpret the results and give different recommendations. There were some things going on internally with me that it didn't matter how well I ate, how much I exercised or meditated... deeper issues needed to be addressed. The main theme is getting to the root of the problem instead of blindly addressing symptoms.

I wish I had made the time to learn about this type of work back in the day when I wasn't feeling good but didn't know why. I made the time and spent money on so many other things, but not my health. I would have saved so much time and suffering and money later on. We are meant to feel vibrant and we are meant to thrive. If you are not feeling this way, I encourage you to contact me and get some basic testing done to quit the guessing game and telling yourself maybe this is just what getting older feels like.

Healing from the inside-out often takes longer than putting a band-aid on the situation, and takes behavioral modification  and dedication, but true healing frees you up for a healthy life for the rest of your life!

I hope you have a thriving, happy life... and if I can help, let me know :) I work from Skype and can organize the testing anywhere in the U.S. and many other countries too. Just DM me or email: elise@integrationforlife.com with questions.

Sat nam,

Elise

Worthy Women, Fifth Edition: Stephanie Khalil AlGhani

May 9, 2016

Who: Stephanie Khalil AlGhani (IG: @khalilhijabi, @covertimemagazine)

Occupation: Founder/Editor of Covertime Magazine (www.covertimemagazine.com)

Location: Connecticut, USA

Stephanie Khalil AlGhani is an American Muslim, and she wants to put a face to a name. I am really happy about her sentiments, as I feel that Muslims have gotten a really bad rap in the media in recent years. I prefer to judge each person on an individual basis, but if I were to generalize all the Muslims I know personally, for the sake of making a point, I would say that they are humble, grateful, giving and compassionate.

Stephanie stole my heart when I found her on Instagram. I actually do not know her in person, but I like who she is and what she stands for. She is a mother that puts family first, is highly intelligent, deep, sensitive, confident, and ready to speak to the entire world(when the time is right).

She says, "I think people should have the right to practice their own beliefs and religions as long as it doesn't hurt other people. So I am against ISIS killing innocent people and using hate propaganda. But it goes both ways because the media has used hate propaganda since 9/11 against Muslims."

She speaks of topics many of us can relate to and understand but don't have the courage to bring up. She is definitely not hiding anything or holding back; her message is clear and pretty simple: this world and everybody in it has some work to do. That means you, me, and she definitely includes herself.

Stephanie is raising her children to be the kind of people you would want your children to marry someday. She is the kind of person you would want as your neighbor. She believes that just because you don't understand something, doesn't mean it is wrong.

Sat nam,

Elise

1) Who are you?

I am a 32 year old married mother of 2 (boy and girl). I have been involved in Fashion since I was a young girl sewing my own clothes then going to the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. After working in the industry for over 10 years and moving to Connecticut for my husband's job I started an online and digital magazine Covertime for Modest Fashion and Pop Culture. As a woman of faith, I like many others are looking for less revealing clothes than mainstream brands have to offer.

My maternal grandfather was Cherokee Native American, my maternal grandmother was French, my paternal grandfather was British, and my paternal grandmother was Austrian. At 21 years old I found Islam by reading the Quran. I have always believed in one God not associating him with another being. My parents did not raise us any particular religion... telling us that we could decide for ourselves. After reading the Quran and taking my Shahada (my testimony of declaring belief in one God and that Muhammed was the Seal of God's Prophet's). I still keep ownership of my faith and will not blindly follow another human being without making my own conclusions and doing my own research. Recently I found out by watching "Spiritual Waters Running Deep" that I was like an Indigo Child. This was a major learning curve for me and I was better able to put together my life puzzle. It explained why I could not relate to most people even as a young child and also why I am extremely sensitive with my body and emotional feelings.

2) What is the greatest challenge you have overcome/are overcoming?

Covertime Magazine was a very passionate project for me after giving birth to my daughter. I was looking at society and imagining my daughter growing up where women are treated with emphasis on sexuality. At 19 years old I was in the modeling industry, signed with Women Model Management, one of the top in the world. From my experience it is a very dangerous industry with some illegal activities happening. And the outcome of the images from this industry our society praises as having that high level of success. I do not think people realize what kind of things go on behind the scenes. It will take someone with a lot of guts and the right opportunities to speak out against this industry. I feel like I am this person insha'Allah (god willing). There are other women ex-models as well trying to speak out.

With all these divisions of people being created right now, I do not feel like I belong to one group, but I feel like all humanity is supposed to unite. Good VS Evil, but the important thing is for people to realize that we are all capable of creating evil thoughts and actions so it starts with ourselves and dealing with these issues. You cannot help others until you have helped yourself. Everyone is at a different part or level of their spiritual awakening so it will take time. I will start and try to do some speaking in communities to help people see things in different perspectives and break some of the fears. We all need to learn to think for ourselves because otherwise we are in a way brainwashed so easily by what media and others opinions are. A good example of this is the Muslim Women. Muslim literally translates to "submitted to God". We are very misunderstood because of how media talks about us. Muslims are only humans, and you can not judge Islam by Muslims because everyone has a different interpretation or level of their faith. All religions teach basically the same thing of worshiping God, having self control and the peace of mankind. The differences come from the hand of man adding their parts or interpretation.

3) What have you learned?

I have learned that you have to become what you are seeking! Sometimes we wander so much looking for that person to help us or guide us, but in reality that person is our self.

I have learned that you have to choose to be happy and focus on all your blessings. This is hard when you are trying to make societal changes. You can only shed your light in the darkness for a bit of time, but you need to go back to the light so that you don't lose your own light. It is a balancing act that I am still trying to get right.

Your vibe attracts your tribe. We all give off vibes and energy and are affected by others energy. So we have to be aware of that energy we give off. I also learned to save my deepest thoughts and conversations for people that appreciate it. We lose energy when speaking, so energy conservation is important if you do not want to burn out.

Also, Expectations are Resentments waiting to happen. I am constantly trying to submit to God's will as much as possible. You still have to patiently persevere, but at the same time pay attention to the signs. Some things are not meant to happen no matter how hard you try.

Asalamulaikum (Peace be upon you)

Worthy Women, Fourth Edition: Christa Orecchio

April 4, 2016

Who: Christa Orecchio

Occupation: Clinical and Holistic nutritionist; entrepreneur ( http://www.thewholejourney.com) (IG@thewholejourney)

Location: Encinitas, CA

Christa is a breath of fresh air. She is one of those people that you almost can't believe is for real in the beginning- she is just that amazing. But tried and true, this woman is legit. She is intelligent, fun, extremely motivated, shiny, happy, witty, deep, investigative, clear and most of all... compassionate.

If you can't tell, I both love and admire Christa. We share many of the same interests, passions and beliefs. There is a funny story to how I first "met" her. When I first graduated from IIN(Institute of Integrative Nutrition) about 5 years ago, it was part of the program to go to local grocery stores and hold tours, teaching people how to identify and pick the healthiest food. This was fresh (excuse the pun) and forward at that time. Well... every single store I went in, Christa's bright and beautiful face was posted everywhere... she already clearly had the monopoly on Grocery Tours. I thought, "Who is this lady? And how the heck is she everywhere already?!"

Little did I know that was just the beginning... she has created an amazing program called Gut Thrive, that I have actually participated in and highly recommend, is regularly on Fox News delivering holistic tips, and recently co-authored a book, "How to Conceive Naturally and Have a Healthy Pregnancy Over 30". She was and IS everywhere, and I am personally so happy about it.

We desperately need people like her in the world. She is one step ahead at all times, naturally. She carves the way for us, all of us-nutritional practitioners and also just health conscious people in general-using "food as medicine" to heal ourselves and others. She is a leader, a clear communicator, a path forger, a hacker of theories and programs... and if it's not obvious already... she is my (self-appointed) mentor. I believe it is important to have role models in life, and she is one of my big ones. She lives consciously not in one area of life, but in all areas of life.

I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did, as the questions she said herself caused her to "dig deeper that she normally does in public'.

Sat nam,

Elise

1) Who are you?

I am a functional and holistic nutritionist and an entrepreneur; a healer with a passionate drive to use my life force for the highest good during my short time here on earth.

I'm an Italian girl from New Jersey who loves and needs yoga, meditation, and spiritual exploration. I love the ocean, nature, wide-open spaces, art and design, organic food (and wine), science, traveling, my friends and my family.

I am a light worker and instrument of God, disguised as a TV personality who spreads the message of how real food heals.

I'm a Vespa-riding free spirit with wanderlust and a recovering perfectionist.

I'm calm and grounded and also frenetic.

I'm decisive and also mercurial.

I am a dichotomy, depending on the day.

Passionate about helping others and as my company grows; I'm becoming more passionate about vigilant self-care because no one will do it for you and you're not as valuable to others when you show up with an empty tank.

I am an authentic, highly sensitive, imperfect person who wants to surround herself with genuine, heart-centered people who strive to be present, make the world a better place, and better themselves.

2) What is the greatest challenge you have overcome/are overcoming?

Pacing my personal growth with the growth of my business.

It's been a necessary component for entrepreneurial success and at times almost crippling when the company grows before you do.

I think when you do the work of your soul, there's a requirement of extreme personal accountability and responsibility that forces you to face yourself again and again so that you are able to get out of your own way and unabashedly give your gifts to the world with self-assurance.

As my business has grown, it has demanded more and more of me, including aspects of myself that had not yet been nurtured or developed. It's forced me to find strength and resolve and to consistently pick myself up when things "don't work out or go as planned".

Helping thousands of others heal in deep health processes requires strength, compassion, intuition, empathy, a certain degree of neutrality, and extremely clear boundaries.

It's required me to temper my natural people-pleasing tendencies in favor of the greater good of the collective and my own personal peace and happiness.

Work-life balance is something I have always struggled with, but I'm now beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, not necessarily because of the external things like the creation of turnkey systems, documenting processes, improving marketing, and leveraging technology, but rather as a reflection of the inner work and expanded partnership with life and spirit.

3) What have you learned?

The Top 10 Life Lessons I've learned thus far are:

  1. Patience is a virtue (and one I may always aspire to and chase ;). Aim for progress not perfection.
  2. Doing things right is better than doing them fast.
  3. Vulnerability is an incredible strength, not a weakness.
  4. Clear boundaries are healthy and essential in all relationships. However, they should not come from old wounds but rather from personal power.
  5. The human spirit is amazingly resilient.
  6. Being kind is more important than being right.
  7. When you judge others, it leaves no space to love them - this includes yourself.
  8. Every external situation, no matter how challenging is an opportunity for growth and evolution.
  9. Everyone is fighting their own battle and whether they are kind and gracious or angry and stubborn, they deserve compassion - which is the greatest healing force on the planet.
  10. Acceptance of self, of others, and of "what is" is the ultimate freedom.

Recipe: PB&J Chia Pudding

March 15, 2016

I love taking yummy, child-hood memory foods and creating healthier versions.

Eating things that make us happy are literally better for us than eating things we don't like just because they are "good" for us. That's a whole other blog for later, but for now let's just simplify by saying that it's important to put things in our body that are a) good for us and b) taste good and give us pleasure.

Well this modified recipe from @minimalistbaker does the trick! Who doesn't like PB&J?!

BENEFITS

wild blueberries - powerful antioxidant, great for the brain and heart, high in B6

chia - good for body and brain, loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, also most of carbs are fiber

coconut milk - builds up body's immune system, lowers cholesterol, contains copper, magnesium and postassium-all minerals we need to replenish, especially if you are going through some sort of detox program

COMPOTE

  • 1 cup (140 g) wild blueberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) orange juice (not necessary, use organic if at all)
  • 1 Tbsp (12 g) chia seeds

CHIA PUDDING

  • 1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened plain coconut milk (look for one w/o carrageenan)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) full fat, canned coconut milk optional: 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp (48 g) natural, non-sugared salted peanut butter (creamy or crunchy), plus more for serving
  • 1/3 cup (63 g) chia seeds
  • optional: Fresh blueberries for topping
  • I put coconut flakes and almost slivers on top, toasted for a nice crunch!

  1. To a small skillet or saucepan, add the blueberries (and orange juice, if using). Warm over medium-high heat until bubbling. Then lower heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes – stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add chia seeds. Stir to combine.
  2. Divide the compote between three small serving dishes and set in the refrigerator to chill.
  3. In the meantime, add the coconut milks to a blender, along with vanilla (optional) and peanut butter. Blend on high to fully combine. Taste and adjust flavors as needed.
  4. Add chia seeds and pulse a few times to incorporate, being careful not to blend as you want the chia seeds left whole.
  5. Transfer to a liquid measuring cup or jar (or just set your whole blender in the fridge), and set in the fridge to begin chilling.
  6. Wait 10 minutes for the chia compote to cool. Then remove the chia pudding and compote from the refrigerator. Give the chia pudding a stir to redistribute the chia seeds, then divide between the three serving dishes right on top of the compote.
  7. Cover well and set in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1-2 hours (preferably overnight), or until chilled through and pudding-like in consistency.
  8. To serve, top with extra peanut butter and fresh blueberries (optional). Will keep covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  9. Toast and add the coconut flakes and almond slivers only when you are ready to serve, so they won't moisten.

I took out what I thought was unnecessary sugar and added good fats and crunch... and used organic, wild blueberries for detoxification benefits. We are all exposed to harmful chemicals, EMFs, and pollutants in the air and our environment that affect our bodies and brains... we can mildly counteract these things in a very delicious way! Wild, organic blueberries draw heavy metals out of brain tissue, healing and repairing any gaps created by oxidation when the heavy metals are removed. It is important to use wild blueberries, as they possess unique phytonutrients with special detoxifying capabilities. (Anthony William)

Let me know what you think! I am always interested in what you want to hear about, so please sign up for my emails on the front page of the the landing page... (website is under construction)... and let me know what recipes you would like to see or what you would like to know more about!

In Health,

Elise

Worthy Women, Third Edition: Chelsea M. Casey

March 2, 2016

Who: Chelsea McLean Casey (@chelsea_rising)

Occupation: Mother, Yoga Instructor

Location: San Diego

I met Chelsea when we both had very different lives. She was the co-owner and editor of Nostika, a Latin lifestyle and fashion magazine, and I owned JEP, an upscale fashion boutique in La Jolla. I had her as a model in several of my fashion shows, because Chelsea is absolutely stunning to look at... but the more I got to know her the more I couldn't stop staring. She is one of those people that keeps getting more beautiful the more you know her. And let's be real: she started out as a model. So now that I have known her for about 10 years... her beauty is pretty much stellar.

We are special friends. We don't hang out all the time, but have always kept in touch and when we do... we get right to the good stuff. The waitress hates us because we talk so much that we take forever to order. Chelsea's outlook on life has always been right on point, no matter what happens in her life... she is going to rise above it. She is the kind of woman that handles a challenge. If something almost devastates her, she is going to see why it didn't and concentrate on that. And build upon that. And keep it as a reminder to rise above. That actually happened. It's a huge, absolutely stunning color tattoo of a phoenix rising on her entire back.

This is Chelsea, and I haven't even begun to tell her story... because she is going to tell it herself here, and many many other times in the future across many pages, audios, and videos.

Please, join her fan club with me. Search her out on social media(details above), take her yoga class, follow her story of love and perseverance... you won't be sorry but will be fork-lifted up with nothing other than inspiration and light.

Thank you Chelsea. Bless you, Chels. We are with you, C.

Thank you for all that you have done, do today, and especially what you are going to do with what you have been through. I already see you transmuting the ashes and flying high like the phoenix on your back. I just can't wait to see how high you go!

Sat nam,

Elise

1) Who are you?

I am a Wife, Mother, Sister, Daughter, Grand-Daughter, Niece, Step-Mom, Dog-Mom, Soul-Sister, Friend

I am a truth seeker, curious explorer, survivor and thriver, force of nature.

I am passionate. I am opinionated. I am interested in almost everything.

I seek and thrive on intensity. I crave raw, real experiences and relationships.

I love and revere beauty.

I feel the most connected in nature.

I think music is the language of the divine.

I treasure each of my scars. They tell the stories of my adventures.

I indulge lovingly in culinary arts.

I teach and practice yoga.

I am married to a Warrior King.

With my husband by my side, I gave birth to a prince at home on March 1st, 2014. Lachlan is his name. He is peaceful and robust. I love being his mother more than anything in the world.

I adore my life and treasure my blessings. I have purpose, connection, support, tons of love, a mission, and cancer.

I am a Queen, I just needed to discover my kingdom. I am a Warrior, I just needed a battle worth fighting. I am a Priestess, I just needed a reason to use my powers.

2) What is the greatest challenge you have overcome/are overcoming?

Stage IV Lung Cancer with metastases to the brain, lymphatic system, spine, kidneys, pelvis and colon - diagnosed July 2015, at age 35. Current status: my body is free and clear of cancer, although it remains in numerous small spots on the surface of my brain. But I am ready to let go of these now too. Cancer has led me home and reawakened me to myself. I am ready to take it from here. We proceed with treatment very soon, and with love and gratitude I will bid cancer a fond farewell.

From the beginning I knew that to fight this battle I could not get stuck on the weight of the words that describe it. Simple words cannot hurt me unless I allow them to make me fearful. They are just words. Instead I choose to focus on truer communications with my soul. My soul will not label itself. I am not a fixed creature, incapable of changing again. I can heal, I can shift. I can grow stronger.

This cancer experience is making me feel both more human, and more exquisitely infinite. There is an interesting satisfaction I feel from experiencing firsthand the very human struggle/hardship/fear of illness. At the same time I feel like it is so insignificant because I now know that the "me" I identify with is my soul, not my physical body, and my soul is made up of the same unexplainable infinite energy as Love and the rest of the divine cosmos. Simultaneously I'm feeling both hugely expansive and totally puny. This is such an interesting sensation! There's so much richness and beauty in experiencing this duality firsthand. It's helping me realize that I was allowing my mind to vastly limit me before this experience. Therefore, how can I be anything but grateful for the expansion that cancer is gifting me?

3) What have you learned?

Lung cancer can occur in perfectly healthy non-smokers as a result of random genetic mutations that occur during our lifetime.

Healing starts with the question: Am I willing to see this differently?

Devastating events are often blessings in disguise.

We have the power to choose where we pour our energy, and where we pour our energy is where growth occurs.

Wholehearted living promotes healing.

The biggest delusion/illusion we all live with is that tomorrow is guaranteed.

I am not sick. I am opening up. It is exciting and awe-inspiring. I am in reverence of the process. I have been awakened and handed my mission: to heal, to teach and to lead.

By connecting through meditation, devotional yoga, prayer, listening and paying attention, I have been awakened to the energetic force that is my soul and God. All I had to do to access it was ask for it sincerely. The challenging part is to fully trust this force that is of me and around me, and surrender to it. It's one thing to get a glimpse of the divine and then to return to old patterns that shut off connection. It's quite another to stay permanently connected. This is what I now practice. Fear seeps in at the most unlikely times and tries to pull me away from this light and clarity. It is daily work and commitment, but worth it because now I know I am deeply loved, I am supported, I am guided, and so is everyone else if they choose to be.

A relationship with God is a loving relationship with all that is around us. God is a source with which to give and receive love.

Prayer is an act of surrender.

Be kind. You never know how much someone else is struggling/suffering.

"Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity." -Brown, Brené, Daring Greatly. She defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. It's not about eliminating fear. It's not about eliminating darkness. It's about breaking it apart and using the parts to assemble something different. Something useful and productive. In this way we use our fear to fuel our fire.

Humans are built for challenge. We are hard-wired for courage. We are hard-wired for purpose and meaning. We are hard-wired for community and belonging. We are never alone and we are never stuck.

Worthy Women, Second Edition: Ginger Che-Howell

February 1st, 2016

Who: Ginger Che

Occupation: Artist, Designer, Private stylist (gingerche.com, chehowell.com)

Location: Malibu, California

I met Ginger in 2001 while I was managing a clothing store in Windansea and she sold her jewelry there. She was hilarious, absolutely stunning, and completely intimidating to me at the time. We became friends, but I didn't get really close to her until 2003 when we both opened retail stores one building away on La Jolla Blvd. We talked daily at one or the other's store, would often share lunch, and went strolling around causing trouble-ya know, the good kind- all over town on the weekends. She talks straight, abhors meaningless chit chat and normally wears heels and red lipstick... oh and you don't want to get in her way.

We always laugh... no matter what is going on, sometimes cry, and it's not unheard of for us to laugh so hard until we cry.

We knew absolutely everything about each other, and I knew her well through many of the events you will read about... taking care of Marvin on her own, meeting Andy in Vegas, then having two children with him and going to their birthdays when they moved to Malibu. But we lost touch a bit with life transitions such as children and moving several locations. I knew of her health struggle and she knew of mine, but I unfortunately only saw her once or twice during these most difficult years. I don't regret many things in life, but this is one of them. But I can vouch for this: when I did see her, she was still wearing red lipstick, looking stunning and being hilarious as ever. She might have been a frailer version, but she was still a radiant Goddess. You see, there are just some people that situations, people, even tragedy can't take down. One of them is my friend Ginger. I am deeply honored to learn and share to all of you her full story... although she truly doesn't need an introduction, and never has. You will see what I mean...

Sat nam,

Elise

1) Who are you?

I am a spiritual being having a human experience. Within this experience I have countless flawless flaws, which I celebrate, embrace and also suppress. For as long as I can remember I have always been in love. My first crush was on my dad (when I was three), then on my uncles (his buddies/bros) when I was four whom I all had promised marriage. Then, my first boy crush was on my mom's friend's son who was seven when I was five. He shared a piece of Big Red gum with me inside his mom's closet while she was cooking downstairs in the kitchen. This was in Taiwan where I was born and lived until I was eight-years-old. He broke the gum in half inside the closet between his mother's blouses and dresses (which smelled like a second hand consignment store). Suddenly, the scent of cinnamon filled the closet. He told me that it was going to taste spicy in a sweet way and that it was his mother's gum from America. He added that we were absolutely not allowed to have it. It was at that moment that I completely fell for him and promised him marriage as well.

There was a skinny slice of light that cut into the darkness of the closet. It shone on the gum's red and silver wrapping paper inside my future husbands' little hand. My new hero let me smell the paper as we chewed on the gum in stereo. Then, he put his little index finger (with dirt under his nail) on the silver paper, wrapped it around his finger and twisted it until it turned into a little wine glass. He repeated that with the other half of the silver paper and "voila!" we had two little wine glasses. Both of them smelled like the gum in my mouth. At the sight of these tiny silver paper glasses I was 100% sure that I would love him forever. We pretended to cheers and drink, and we laughed. Then, a few days later I received a love letter from him through my mother. I couldn't read it as I had not learned how to read yet. I asked my mom to read it to me. She smiled the whole time as she read the words. I, on the other hand, got more and more upset as I listened to her. My handsome husband-to-be wrote that he missed me, that he loved my eye, my hand, and my ear. I couldn't believe it! In an instant I jerked the letter out of my mother's hands, tore it into a million tiny pieces and threw them onto the white marble floor. There was something beautiful and sad at the sight of these little pieces of paper sailing down in slow motion to the ground... My mom, trying to suppress her smile asked "... why are you so upset, sweetheart?" I screamed in anger "WHAT ABOUT MY OTHER EYE???!!! MY OTHER HAND???!!! AND MY OTHER EAR???!!! TELL HIM THE MARRIAGE IS OFF, MAMA!!!".

... That is who I was as a little girl... and that is still who I am today.

I am neurotic, that's why I practice zen.
I am impatient, that's why I practice being in the moment.
I am fearful, that's why I act courageously.
I am annoyed by people. I even annoy myself at times.
I am orderly in a messy fashion.
I am spiritual but not religious.
I am critical but not judgmental.
I am caring but not controlling.
I am very proud but not arrogant.
I am honest but not mean.
I am a contradiction but not a hypocrite.
I am sensitive but I am also sensible.
I forgive but I cannot forget.
... I have always wanted to be more than I am,... I have always wanted to know more, see more, learn more, and I have always been excited to discover more... I have always been restless.
I don't like being restless. I like being calm.
I have always been in love with life and I have always been self-destructive. I have always loved everything beautiful.
To me beauty is truth. It is the brutal truth about the human experience in its darkness and in its light. It is the human experience with all its contradictions.
I experience beauty when I am present.
I am most present when I create.
That's why I decided to become an artist of life and create beauty in all that I do.

2) What is the greatest challenge you have overcome/are overcoming?

It's not the first culture shock I experienced when I was eight-years-old (moving from Taiwan to Germany). It's not the second culture shock I experienced when I was twenty-years-old (moving from Germany to the US). It's not the racism I experienced growing up in Germany. It's not living in hardship and not having a childhood. It's not the challenge of learning a new language twice and leaving family and friends behind. It's not having been pregnant in highschool and becoming the talk of town. It's not becoming a teenage mom and not being able to hang with my friends. It's not having been heartbroken by the love of my life with whom I had my first child. It's not having felt alone and homesick for over eight years with my little boy in a foreign country. It's not working multiple jobs and putting myself through school while raising my little boy. It's not graduating university with high honors despite people not believing in me. It's not having my dream job and leaving it for my second marriage. It's not leaving my 17-year-old boy behind to move for my husband's work. It's not two high risk pregnancies in a row. It's not not having uninterrupted or sufficient amount of sleep for over eight years. It's not not having felt rested for over eight years. It's not having to move twenty-three times in my life. It's not not having a father growing up and watching my mother struggle with a new language and culture. It's not going from wealth to poverty and making my way back. It's not losing my father without ever really being able to get to know him. It's not fearing losing my mother several times within a few years. It's not having to leave my little kids behind for months to help my mother recover from her heart attacks and strokes. It's not the worry I had for all my loved ones...

It is the life with the painful struggle of ulcerative colitis. I was diagnosed with UC after my daughter Love was born in 2009. I went to see the doctor after having had blood in my stool for months. The first flare up came a few weeks after the diagnosis. It was the most painful experience I had ever had and it lasted for six years. I had been in pain for six years (sometimes with fevers, sometimes without). The pain had been there day and night and I had been close to death a couple of times. I would get a cold or the flu frequently and it would last for months. Within these years I had seen numerous doctors and specialists, taken all kinds of drugs that they prescribed and experienced horrible side effects that added to my UC symptoms.

I was down to 85 pounds a few times (I am 5'5'), not being able to keep food in and bleeding up to 40 times in 24 hours from my intestines. Sometimes, I would be so weak that I could only whisper, I would have blurry vision, and could not remember certain words when I spoke. With the continuous bleeding I also became severely anemic. I was at times crawling, as I got better I was limping... and then I would have days again where I could not move at all. The stabbing pain in my abdomen was at times taken over by migraines which lead me to vomit until all that came out was green. I developed a stiff neck from the posture that the pain forced me to be in and had constant pain in my neck and upper and lower back. The tension and fear which resulted from my high risk pregnancies manifested in my body over four years would burst out whenever I was alone. The blood transfusions and the steroids had made my body tense and swollen. I would explode in tears in the shower or scream from the top of my lungs whenever I was alone in my car. Being busy with taking care of my loved ones I ignored all my body's and souls' cries for help. Then, at some point, my left arm and hand became numb on a regular basis. The spasms in my lower back became more frequent adding to the spasms in my abdomen. My GI doctor at the time told me "... let's try these and see how you feel. You will vomit for a few weeks and lose your hair but your body will eventually get used to it". I was barely hanging on to life and the drugs I had been taking for the UC had not giving me any relief. "Is losing my hair and vomiting going to get me better?", I wondered...

"... what if it does not work?", I asked my doc. With a friendly smile he said "Then, we'll just try something stronger".

That afternoon I decided to become my own doctor and started researching how to heal myself.

Yoga, stretching, exercise, bodywork will help with my neck and migraines. Diet change, healing foods, healers, shamans, chiropractic, acupuncture, IV injections with vitamins and minerals will support my intestines and my overall well-being. Meditation, stories of resilience, seminars on self-love and women with wisdom will calm my mind. Sleep will help my body regenerate. I had some good ideas but I was so weak that it took me months and years to implement all the changes while raising my two little kids, creating beautiful memories for them, and keeping up with my life in pain. Many wonderful people tried to help me. Most people didn't/don't know what I was/am going through. I hid/hide it well. Even my kids and my husband have not really seen my pain. I took every advice and tried every suggestion. I listened to every healer, tried every suggested diet and took all kinds of supplements. Everything and everyone helped me in some way. The love from people around me kept my spirits up... but nothing was really making me gain weight or reducing the symptoms.

The inflammation continued to spread in my body despite all my efforts to heal. I started getting stinging pain in my wrists, knees, ankles and toes. My doctor told me that I now also had arthritis. I also started getting rashes and dry patches on my skin here and there. I continued to put on my make-up, my red lipstick, and my smile whenever I could. I took many pictures during those years because I wanted to hold on to every bearable moment as I did not know if those were my last ones. My pain forced me to live from moment to moment with gratitude. I was just grateful to be able to see my kids. With every moment in pain I continued to feel more humble about life itself. I could feel that it could be taken away from me at any moment... any day could be my last... I realized how special it was that my children materialized through my body... I realized how amazing it was that life existed... how magical a flower was... a worm... the dirt, the clouds... the sun... the moon, ... the stars... and beyond into space... I could go on and on all the way back into the worlds of the bacteria in my intestines... I was feeling deep within me, passed my pain how incredible it was that I could experience all this magic through this now painful body I was in. Even though everything I did became extremely difficult and would take me 4-6 times longer than it used to-I felt gratitude. Even though I was always exhausted as I was bleeding my life away I became grateful to be alive to feel the pain... and I learned to live with the waves of my pain day in and day out.

The worst arthritis attack came last June. I dozed off with my neck and abdominal pain and woke up two hours later as per usual. This time it was not just the urge to go to the bathroom, there was a new pain which did not allow me to move any parts of my body. I was not able to even move an inch without having to scream in tears. My pain killers were in the bathroom only 8-10 feet away from my bed. It took me four hours in excruciating pain to get there.

What do I do? Where do I go from here?

There were three things I had not tried:

The chemo pills, colon removal, and FMT.

The answer was clear: I am going to research FMT and try it. The Chinese had been doing it apparently for over 4000 years. Some records show 2000 years... but it's definitely been around for quite a while.

My husband supported me in this decision and we gave it a shot, literally.

My arthritis pain went down by 50% only ten hours after the first treatment. This was on July 1st, 20015. My daughter's 6th birthday was coming up (July 23rd) and she had asked me to be Wonder Woman at her "Superheroes and Reptiles" birthday party. However, the pain was so intense, it smothered my optimism to be able to participate. After the success of the first treatment I believed that I would have enough energy to be Wonder Woman for her. I put on my Wonder Woman costume on her birthday and realized that I was not in costume. This was actually my long lost uniform!

By July 23rd, 2015 I had gained two full pounds (!!!) doing two treatments per week. My cramps became less painful as well. This was the very first time I saw real tangible improvement.

Today is January 23rd, 2016 and I am at 115 pounds, back to the weight I was before my high risk pregnancies. It's been over six months since we started the treatments and my arthritis is almost completely gone. There is only some left in my wrists. Due to five years of neck stretching the migraines have also vanished... the spasms have also left. The numbness in my arm and hand have also disappeared. The rashes are also gone. I still have some of the UC symptoms that handicap me in many ways but I am no longer bleeding or cramping. The stabbing pain is also no longer lingering. I have a new doctor and I will have my next colonoscopy in four weeks.

3) What have you learned?

My near death experiences have enabled me to feel how precious and fragile life is. I have felt that every moment is a gift. I have felt the importance of self-respect, self-honor, and self-love.

There were many moments throughout these pain ridden years when I wondered what I was being punished for. I would go through all the events in my life to look for something horrible I may have done which I may be paying for. As I could not recall or find anything I wondered if it may have been something from past lives I may not know about. It wasn't until I let all these thoughts of self-doubt go that I became one with my pain and felt gratitude for life. I learned to be happy with my pain. It wasn't until that moment when the universe gave me more pain. When I felt all this pain in every part of my body, from head to toe... I decided to try something I thought I would never try when I first heard about it years ago.

I also learned something new about love.

I grew up adapting to the people around me and adapting to my environment. This was my way of showing love. I knew at an early age to watch my father's mood swings, to watch his eyes, his body language... and adapt to him. I always knew how to be around the different loved ones in my family and how to make them feel good and comfortable. I somehow just knew how to make everyone happy. This is one of my characteristics which I noticed when I was only three-years-old. I have always wanted to make everyone smile. I have always wanted to hear everyone laugh. My mother is that way. She may have passed it down to me.

When my current husband and I met we had an incredible spiritual experience which was undeniable. My friend read a poem to him which became the beginning of our souls connecting:

She Buddha
by Ginger Che

Silence is within her
She cultivates herself
She educates herself
Giving birth to dreams, hope, and faith is her duty
She knows that nothing is stronger than love
She floats on the flame of life
She leads and she follows
She is nothing and everything
She is no one and everyone
Find her and feed her
Take your precious time
For she is within
YOU

We got married seven weeks after. To show him my unconditional love I closed my gallery/boutique to work with him and went through two high risk pregnancies to have our family. My first son Marvin, 15-years-old at the time and my new husband were not getting along. My mother came to live with us for a year to recover from her heart attacks and strokes and to help me with a soon to be newborn (my second son True). My husband and my mom had a language barrier and I found myself translating their conversations to help them connect. I was in the middle of the three people I loved most, trying to connect them as much as I could. Unable to make them all happy I started feeling pain in my stomach and in my throat on a daily basis. I was also dealing with the in and outs of my high risk pregnancy. I just wanted to give all my love to my loved ones and make everyone feel great. I became so radical in my way of showing this love that I slowly excluded myself more and more (which I believe was the result of the high risk pregnancies). This behavior set the stage for high expectations, resentment and eventually led to self-induced pain. I denied my soul and my body of their needs because of what I thought was "the ultimate act of love". In all my effort to love I had also completely ignored and forgotten about

She Buddha.

This pain I created for myself ultimately led to dis-ease.

What have I learned?

I have learned to remember to include myself as one of my loved ones and to never disregard myself again. I have learned that I am the only person responsible for my happiness. I have learned to never disrespect myself again. I have learned that making myself small in order to make someone else feel bigger has nothing to do with love. I have learned that this behavior was an act of dishonor to myself and that it was the root of my disease.

All that being said I have to add that I have no regrets. I have no regrets because I have always followed my intuition. My intuition took me down this path so I could learn my lesson. Even though, it's been such a bumpy and painful ride... somehow, deep in my soul I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and learning what I am supposed to learn. I believe that I was given this lesson so that I will not pass this behavior down to my children. This behavior that may have lasted for many generations before me ends right here.

Amongst all the wise women who have cheered me on in my struggle there has been one Wonder Woman who sent me a book one day out of which I took a small paragraph and made it my mantra. Every time I read it it brings tears to my eyes. I had been trying to find out why these words made me cry (and they still do). I came to the conclusion that my tears reflect the fact that I had mistreated myself in a million ways.

Here it is:
In this world and all others,
I know that I'm cherished beyond measure.
Within this bright light of awareness I allow myself,
my natural gifts to rise to my consciousness,
and provide healing to myself
and all beings throughout the universe.

It is true what they say: "No pain, no gain".

The universe dropped some heavy duty growing pains on me.

This Wonder Woman has gained.

For all you fellow undercover Wonder Women out there: I cheer you on!!! I cheer you on to be strong. I cheer you on to love yourselves. I cheer you on to respect yourselves. I cheer you on to honor yourselves. I cheer you on to forgive yourselves and I cheer you on to see the beauty in it all. You are worthy. You are important. You matter. YOU ARE the MANIFESTATION of
LOVE.

Worthy Women, First Edition: Jessica Cure

January 14, 2016

I met Jessica on the, ah-hem... throat clear, internet. It's not what it sounds like, but it is true. And we are now real friends. Social media gets a bad rap for too many selfies, superficiality, comparison, and many other things. But just like everything else, it is what you make it. I see it as a conduit to share whatever is important to you, and that means different things to different people. Over the summer, I had a conversation with my good friend Cyrus who helped me get really clear about what my intention and purpose was on social media. I want to help, inspire, comfort, and be authentic. Ever since then, I have discovered some of the most dynamic and encouraging people I have ever "met" on the internet and made countless meaningful connections. Jessica is one of them. In fact, I had my idea of Worthy Women for awhile, but when one of us starting following the other on Instagram and then connected through DM and then a phone conversation... I knew I had to start the blog. She was my Worthy Women muse, if you will ;)

So thank you Jessica; you are a Warrior Princess... kind, graceful and creative- yet unafraid and raw... everything a woman inspires to be :)

Sat nam,

Elise

Who: Jessica Cure

Occupation: (Cure Design) creating healing spaces

Location: California/Colorado

1) Who are you?

I am perfectly flawed – in my perfection I have the power to succeed and in my flaws I have the power the inspire.

2) What is the greatest challenge you have overcome/are overcoming?

This is a tough one because I feel like there have been multiple challenges that all have seemingly intertwined themselves into one. I believe it started with the idea that I needed to strive for the version of success I was told I was headed for. I was a perfectionist to the T, growing up with the sub-conscious beliefs that these collection of perfect skills somehow made me good and valuable. Although learning and setting goals for myself have been great for my life, it was the goals I had that were off course. These needs I had were disillusioned by the world of consumerism, media and the “perfect” looking woman.

I had my first flare with Ulcerative Colitis when I was 15 years old. I remember taking my AP World History Final while running between the bathroom and lying on the classroom floor. I struggled with pain early on and thought I just would learn to live with it, not putting much thought into what was making this pain worse. Fast forward ten years where I was living a life towards these “ultimate” goals, with the beautiful home, fancy car, regiment workout and eating schedule to keep myself looking a certain way, which would facilitate more success in a very dissatisfying lifestyle. I began to get sicker and sicker both mentally and physically. I was so sick with Ulcerative Colitis that I ended up passing out making my bed, and was rushed to the hospital where I was pumped with drugs and sent home only to get worse. I was flown back to California, where I am from, to be admitted to a hospital with a severe C-difficile infection screaming in pain. Looking back on this it almost doesn’t seem real, but this moment changed me forever.

Deep down I had always known I wasn’t meant for that sort of living. I loved nature, art and travel. I wanted to help others and share. I wanted to follow a path with deeper purpose and connection to the earth. I was looking around me stuck in a hospital bed in isolation feeling like a science project gone wrong. How could this be what life was meant for? It wasn’t! I started researching and reaching out to anyone I knew with guidance and answers. I suddenly realized the people that had come into my life, who I had always felt a deep connection with, were the healers… and then went to them for support. I looked to the internet and found some great mentors such as Christine Roseberry, Just Glowing with Health, who sent me the book The Live Food Factor. I started to chip away at my life and began releasing what wasn’t good for me and trusting that the answers would come. I remember crying in yoga class every day, as I told myself to let go of this or let go of that. Asking for guidance of what to do next and feeling very alone. THIS WAS THE HARDEST THING I EVER DID AND AM STILL WORKING ON. TRUSTING. Trusting that letting go and following my intuitions was going to be ok, was major work for me. I had a lot of toxic relationships that needed walking away from, but one day I left it all behind. I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew everything in my life had to change.

I moved to Colorado alone, very sick and very tired. I ended up in the hospital again on steroids because I was so scared of losing my colon, not making it out of bed, not being able to live or meet someone who could love this broken version of me. It was all so fear-based, just writing this brings tears to my eyes. After the hospital I began this new journey of self-love and self-care. I was walking to the park just to take off my shoes and wiggle my toes into the earth, I was creating the most wonderful sacred space just for me, where I would make healing and healthy meals, take long nighttime baths, diffuse calming scents and play music where I could just be me. Fully present. Fully letting go. Shedding the layers of an old belief system and connecting with ME.

This doesn’t mean it wasn’t or isn’t still hard, but I now have so many tools I can use. I remember being in a yoga class while on steroids, looking in the mirror and feeling very horrified by the face staring back at me. The effects of yet another drug making me feel so unbelievably sad and alone. These dark and sad moments changed me, they made me more gentle, more caring for others and more understanding that we all have these moments. They need to be felt, they need to be released and they need to be shared.

3) What have you learned?

I have learned that I will never be done learning. Life is beautiful in this way. I’ve learned to wake up every day and choose love and happiness, while releasing fear. I’ve learned that this isn’t always easy and it takes work. I have learned to trust what the universe is giving me and how this has been the thing that has set my soul free. I have learned that trusting in nature and natural healing practices are a better choice for me. I have learned that I can create my own sacred spaces and create the energy I need to feel connected. I have learned that this makes me happier and healthier. I have learned that there are waves of ups and downs, but that is part of life’s beauty. Everyday I am learning from relationships, trying new ideas, working with my passion, Cure Designs (www.curedesigns.com), and connecting a web of loving souls along this journey.

Monthly Worthy Women Post: Starting this month!

January 12, 2016

I LOVE women. And like the great Chris Dennler said, “All women are beautiful.” I can whole-heartedly see what he’s talking about. But I have to admit this honor and respect for the female did not always exist in me how it does now. Unlike a lot of little girls, when I was little I wasn’t into “girly” things. I had a major aversion to pink and was a tom-boy, always outside and dirty, and kicking and screaming most of the time when I had to wear a skirt. Admission: I am still a tom-boy at heart, and often dirty and outside at 38 years of age. That part hasn’t changed.

I have always had good girlfriends that I really loved and trusted, but in general much preferred the direct no “b.s” way that boys had about them. But as I grew older, something started to shift…my friendships with women became more sacred, and this continues to develop today. My “tribe” has become women that I look up to and am inspired by because of who they are…they come in all shades and with different personalities and preferences. They do not all know each other personally and some are extremely different from others, especially on the outside. Some live far and our correspondence is few and far between, and some live close and we check in several times a week. But that is not what this is all about. It’s that connection with a woman that usually happens instantly when you meet her, it’s almost like that same spark when you meet a love interest, just a different kind. Of course it can also happen where your relationship with her unfolds over time and you realize this later. But when it happens instantly, I have rarely been wrong. It’s that women’s intuition thing, as trite as it sounds.

That is what I have come to understand as the foundation and beauty of the love of women for other women. We feel each other and know things without saying them or hearing them. We check-in and support each other. We talk about all the details, I mean every.single.detail when even the best man might be snoozing with boredom. We tell each other we are beautiful. Men have their own special ways of connecting with each other and with us too, which is definitely inspiring to see and cherished as well. But this is a blog for women celebrating women, so that’s what I’m focusing on here :)

Women are mysterious and intriguing, and I love to watch how many of them choose to navigate their way through this ever-changing world. We are all, men and women, going for a paradigm shift; that’s not easy. And we are all certainly going through our own personal struggles. I am going to talk about the women that are evolving from the struggle with a special flair. At first I worded it as ‘making the best of it’ but that’s not exactly what I mean. Not grinning and bearing it-but having the courage to actually go THROUGH instead of around to get to the other side. These women might be working through a challenge zone most every single day; you might have no idea. These women are the women that have the bravery to make their life about the lesson and the learning…and eventually the looking back and smiling on it all for happening, no matter how hard it was. Because there is always an offering of joy beneath every test. We just have to find it.

I have decided to feature these women, my every day heroines and inspirations. Some I have known for years, some new friends, and some I have admired from afar… I will pick every one of you women out there if you give me time, because I see something beautiful in every single one of you. But I am purposely going to pick from a variety of career, purpose and style. I’m also going to allow it to flow and change if that feels right, but for now I will feature one woman a month in the same format, asking the same three questions to all the women and share their answers, un-edited:

Who are you?

What is the greatest challenge you have overcome/are overcoming?

What have you learned?

(Simple questions aren’t always easy to answer).

My hope is that this monthly recognition of the full range of the Feminine inspires you, enlightens you, and maybe even comforts you in some way, whether you are a man or a woman.

Sat Nam,

Elise

 

*the term Worthy Women was inspired by and is credited to Betsy Finkeloo