The following post has been submitted by Donna Curran in collaboration with Jodi Lee Fleming Photography.
Donna is an alternative health practitioner whose modalities include Reflexology, Body Talk, Psych-K, Reiki, Kaurna, Metamorphic technique, Reconnective Healing, and food sensitivity testing.
I remember when Jodi asked me to be part of her ‘She Is’ project and I will admit I was hesitant in thinking I would be a good addition. This is such a powerful project with a lot of lessons for people to learn if they are willing to look critically at themselves and the lives they live. How ironic is it that the tables have turned and now Jodi, who is one of my clients, is asking me to be vulnerable and re-evaluate who I am. I spent a lot of time thinking, yes, let’s do this, and then finding myself with a long list of reasons why I should not. So the answer was no, and it was no for a long time; until I realized I was saying no out of fear of judgement.
I had always struggled with other people’s opinions of me. Yet my life path led me to choose a career in alternative healing that at the time, was not a preferred method of treatment. Perhaps it was even frowned upon. I was worried about others viewing me as different, however; despite the judgment, I knew the path of alternative healing was one I needed to take in order to help my girls and I lead better lives.
When my first born, Lindsay, was three-years-old, we were constantly in and out of the hospital with ear infections and digestive issues. We saw an older doctor at McMaster hospital who suspected there was nothing wrong with her aside from the foods she was consuming. We were referred to a chiropractor who administered food sensitivity testing and suggested we take her to see a reflexologist who would tackle her digestive issues by working through her feet. Within the first three weeks I knew something was working when Lindsay asked what the noise was that was coming from the laundry room. She was hearing the dryer for the first time in amazement, and that moment changed everything. Similarly, with my daughter Lisa, altering her diet was enough to eliminate the use of puffers and steroids for what doctors thought was asthma.
Not long after witnessing the health changes in my daughters, I made the decision to enroll in a reflexology course. That course would lead to another course and then several more in parallel fields. Little did I know that my efforts to help Lindsay and Lisa would lead to big changes for myself as well.
The relationship within myself has changed not only emotionally but physically too. My desire for a different path changed my career, my health, but most of all, has altered the way I look at myself and view my self-worth. Sitting down and writing this gave me the opportunity to re-evaluate and ask, yet again, who am I really?
Going back to school and taking courses was extremely hard for me. I had not liked school and I despised exams. I struggled with the thoughts of seeing, feeling, and hearing a lot of judgement from myself and others. The fear of failure scared me, but the need for change quickly overpowered those feelings. It is always easy to slip back into old thoughts. I am sure we can all relate to these negative thoughts that quickly destroy our perception of what we are capable of achieving: What are you doing? You are not good enough! You will fail! And then my own personal demons at the time took over, What if you don’t pass? You don’t like driving in Toronto; just to mention a few. However, I was fortunate enough to have a few close friends and family who helped encourage me and gave me the confidence that I myself lacked.
So onward I went.
I have learned the importance of understanding what is the true perception of what matters the most in every situation. For example, have you ever walked into a room and witness two people whispering and immediately think that they are talking about you? Believing those whispers are about you is only the result of your own fears taking over your perception of what is really going on around you. It’s when I would give into those fears, that my own personal perceptions would become tainted by judgement.
F.E.A.R. – False Evidence Appearing Real
Over the years I have allowed my fears to limit me from seeing what truly matters or is real. I came to the realization that I was only seeing such a small piece of myself and my truth. I had a tendency to worry more and more about things that in time, would end up being pure non-sense. Which in hindsight, in doing so, I was only betraying myself. During the early stages of my learning, I needed the constant reminder to not be anxious for tomorrow. In time, it became ingrained in me that tomorrow always takes care of itself. This is a belief system that is deeply routed in my day to day practices.
We all know that little voice in our head that says, you’re not good enough, you’re fat, you’re not worthy etc., but how often do you tell it to shut up? Instead, we let it dictate our choices. We give this voice all the power without realizing the limitations we are in turn, placing on ourselves. The endless chatter in my own head needed to stop. I needed to instead, trust my intuition, my gut, and know that “what feels right” is what should be. There is nothing more important than listening to your heart.
There isn’t a day that goes by where we don’t encounter judgement or hear that little voice in our head. But what we need to remember is that we get to decide what we do with it. We never eliminate emotions, but we must become aware of them, acknowledge why they are there, and let our heart guide us.
I was once asked by an instructor “what is your truth”? At the time I had no idea what this meant so I was told to ask myself (similarly to what Jodi is asking) “who are you really?”. At the time, I defined myself by the number of masks I was wearing. I was a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend, and a practitioner. However, I gradually recognized that I needed to remove each one of those masks to uncover my true self. As I peeled back the layers, I saw someone entirely different staring back at me in the mirror. Faced with my own insecurities and vulnerabilities, I saw a woman full of sadness and hurt.
I acknowledged that many times in my life I have changed myself in an effort to please others. I would think that approval from others would make me “who I am”. However, it is the exact opposite. How others see me is NOT who I am.
The only person who could help me step away from the sadness and hurt was myself.
Loving myself was going to be the ultimate goal. Through my growth and development, I needed to learn to decipher between what was fear-based and what was true, I needed to break free from judgements, frustration and anger and see myself with eyes of love. Albeit, I did it out of love, giving pieces of myself away to others did not serve my higher purpose. I was sad and angry with myself. In order to move forward I needed to bestow upon myself the gift of forgiveness. “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you”.
Ultimately, forgiveness is what sets, and continues to set me free.
These are beautiful sentiments and with so much focused energy on my practice and my own personal growth, one would think I have it all mastered.
The wheels can still fall off. You can be doing your best and feeling like you have it all together and we softly and silently slip back into old patterns and behaviours. It happens when a person re-enters our world, life-changes are ahead, the mundane creeps in, or even that old song comes on the radio. These are the things that remind us of past hurts. The only difference for me and those willing to do the work, is that we have the tools we need to make the repairs and put the wheels back on in a timely and efficient way.
Negativity pins you down – it’s heavy and it takes up space, creating less room for joy. When we take things personally it creates an open space that leaves us all sitting prey for negativity.
The Course of Miracles teaches us that you cannot be free until you let go of judgement and negativity. A good exercise for releasing negativity is to complete the following statement, “I choose peace rather than this…”
I choose peace rather than this sadness.
I choose peace rather this hate.
I choose peace rather this anger.
I choose peace rather than this fear.
I choose peace rather than this control.
I am no longer THAT woman who looks in the mirror with all of her masks peeled back and sees sadness and anger. I am strong. I am prepared. I am wise. I choose peace and I make room for joy.
I am also grateful. I am grateful for my family, my friends, and my clients for helping me in my endeavours over the last 24 years. It is because of you and your commitment to both your physical and mental health that I am continually driven to grow my practice and delve even deeper into my own journey of self-discovery.
I am Donna, I am a student of my profession, and I am certainly not done!
I love you.