What a Breast Cancer Survivor (that’s me!) Thinks About Angelina Jolie

I’ve had breast cancer three times. As a child, as a young adult, and as a married mother of two small children.
I had my first lumpectomy when I was 14. My right breast was removed when I was 17, and my left when I was 27. I’ve had two mastectomies, reconstructive surgeries and chemotherapy.
I’ve spent half my life either as a cancer patient or as a woman healing from cancer. I carry around the grief of having lost my natural breasts, and of never realizing how very important they were to me, to my definition of femininity and womanhood, and to my self-esteem.
For years, I’ve gone through therapy, healing sessions and yoga classes in an attempt to learn and grow from these experiences. And through that process have healed immense portions of my soul that have now allowed me to release my victimhood and live the life I have always dreamed of living.
I’m still human, though!
I have moments of sadness; several months ago, I drove by a billboard picturing a model with breasts that reminded me of my natural ones. I was simultaneously jealous and grief stricken, and burst out crying in the car.
I also have moments of joy; I realize I have a second chance at life, that my surgeons did an amazing job, and that when I’m old and gray I’ll still have perky boobs!
All of which is why I, as much as anyone, felt compelled to talk about Angelina Jolie’s much-discussed decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy. Look, I understand the influence celebrities have. I also understand our culture’s fascination with them. But let’s take a step back from the bickering and opinion expressing, and think for a minute. What can we learn from this?
As I thought about Angelina Jolie, and how strongly I felt she was being ungrateful and reckless, I realized something. I had been ungrateful for my own breasts when I was younger; I never fully appreciated them. I had also been reckless with my body (that’s another post!) when I was younger. Angelina Jolie provided me with a beautiful mirror. She reflected back to me my triggers, and my vulnerability. And that’s all she did.
Take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “What about Angelina Jolie’s decision triggers me?” And then, “What is that trigger revealing to me about myself?”
Angelina Jolie’s decisions about her body are actually irrelevant to our individual healing journeys. Our reactions to them – and anyone else’s decisions – are great sign posts pointing us in the direction of our personal evolution, however. We can label Angelina with adjectives like: brave, reckless, pioneering, etc. But in reality, we are labeling ourselves. We are actually verbalizing our thoughts and feelings about ourselves. What word or words have you used to describe Angelina Jolie?
I used the words “ungrateful” and “reckless.”
When I realized this, I placed my hands on my chest and felt a deep appreciation for the breasts I have now, and for what they’ve taught me during my healing journey. I also felt contentment because I’m no longer reckless with my body. I treat it with loving respect and gentle care. I gave myself the healing response I needed. And as Joy Adler, my healer, says, “It is never too late to give yourself the healing you’ve always longed for”.
What happened next was that my opinions of Angelina Jolie faded away. I no longer saw her from a place of pain, but from a healed place. And what I saw was a beautiful woman and mother whose journey is similar to mine. I felt compassion for her. I felt camaraderie.
So, the next time you’re triggered by someone’s decision — especially about her body — stop and consider that your reaction may be pointing to something deep within you. Consider what your feelings are revealing to you. And think about what type of healing response you need to bring yourself back into harmony.
I guarantee that if you do these things with honesty and integrity, your opinions of other people will shift dramatically and in a very positive way.
*This article was featured on MindBodyGreen.

Why I’m Giving Up My Career As A Hands-On Healer

You read that headline right: I’m giving up my career as a hands-on healer, because being a healer is actually not my dream. My dream is, and always has been, to be an actor.
If you believe in karma, then let me start at the very beginning. I’ve been told by many healers that I came into this lifetime with a built-in belief that in order to be happy and successful I had to take care of other people. I was programmed for servitude. And my life experiences have added to this belief.
At about five years old, I realized my mother needed helping. She needed someone to look after her, help her make the right decisions, and provide her with comfort and support. Whether she was going through a divorce, dealing with parenthood, making career changes, or trying to survive an abusive marriage, I was there. I was always there to help her. I decided I would be the person who took care of her.
I also decided I would be the person who took care of my little sister, my friends, my pets, my friends’ pets, my teachers, my doctors, my accountant, perfect strangers — everyone, really.
So it was a natural progression from compassionate child to adult hands-on healer. I had always believed somewhere deep down that if I were to heal myself — deeply and authentically — I would then be able to transform and heal other people to a magnificent degree. Perhaps change the world someday! Can you see the stars twinkling in my young eyes?
This belief was honorable. Underneath my intention to “heal the world,” though, was a deep-seated belief that I was supposed to martyr myself in order to prove that I was loveable, gifted, and significant. This belief stemmed from guilt, not authentic self-love.
I came to this realization three weeks ago. After nearly 10 years of working on my career as a healer.
I woke up with this feeling in my stomach. I felt empowered and strong. I also felt bouyant and joyful. I felt free because I knew I was letting go of a long-held, unhealthy pattern.
When I went to lunch with my husband that day, I told him I finally realized how I had been martyring myself through my career, serving others as a sort of penance for my imperfections. I also told him I was done with that; that I felt empowered to live my life for me now, as authentically as possible, and from a place of true self-love. I said I wanted to continue to heal myself for the simple reason of being free, and that I wanted to work as an actor because of the joy and fulfillment it brings me.
He smiled the most beautiful smile at me — the one that melted my heart when we met ten years ago — and said, “I’m really excited for you, honey.”
That’s all I needed for validation, that one brilliant smile from the man I love. He reflected back to me the radiance, excitement, and faith I had been feeling all that morning.
“So, what are you going to do?” he said.
“I’m going to focus on my acting career, get back into my yoga practice and write. If I can do those things for the rest of my life and get paid for them, I will die happy! Those are my passions,” I replied.
And that’s what I’m doing.
Do I still want to be a healer? Yes, of course! But I want to do it my way, not the way I think everyone else wants me to. Instead of offering Bowen Therapy sessions, I am writing about my experiences, offering my life lessons as inspiration for people who want to feel empowered to heal themselves.
I’ll continue to heal, and grow, and evolve. I’ll “write my own rules,” as Tara Stiles suggests. I’ll do it my way. I’ll find the things that stoke the fires of my passion and creativity, and do them as frequently as possible. Right now, those things are homeopathy, Brennan Healing Science, Anusara yoga, and writing.
Will my life be more fulfilling and bring me more joy and contentment? My life is my own. I’ve taken responsibility for it, and I’m living as authentically as possible. So far, I’ve had more fun and laughed harder than I have in years because I’m living from my core, from my essence.
I’ve been on quite a journey these past few months. I let go of my victimhood and started claiming my birth right to live the life I want to live, from a place of respect and unconditional love for the special person I am.
That means I’m letting go of my career as a hands-on healer and embracing my career as an actor, writer, and yoga lover … because that’s who I really am and that’s who I’ve always wanted to be.
Who do you really want to be? I’ll bet you’ve always known!

*This article was featured on MindBodyGreen