I have never been one to care for myself. Truth be told, I was on a mission to destroy myself (on many levels) for most of my life. Only in the past 18 months have I begun to see myself as someone worthy of care. Basically, what I mean by that is, I am finally willing to put effort into myself and my health. However, I already know that traditional medicine is not for me. I do not subscribe to the “we have a pill for that” mindset of most doctors. I think most common ailments and maladies can be aided with nature and intent. Believing is one thing, putting the work in is quite another altogether. As luck would have it, a childhood friend of mine (who I have reconnected with through the wonders of social media) is a holistic health coach. Sometimes we just have to be open to the messages the universe sends, right? I’m going to be embarking on an exciting (and somewhat intimidating) journey with Kate early in 2015. I plan to share it with you all as I go. So I thought, why not start the ball rolling with a quick interview with Kate aka my new guru. ❤
Me: What is holistic medicine and how does it differ from traditional medicine?
Kate: Holistic medicine can be thought of as a circle that encompasses traditional western medicine as well as eastern medicine, alternative therapies, mind/body healing, and also takes into account a person’s total environment including relationships, right livelihood, diet, culture, and spirituality. Holistic (wholistic) medicine attempts to understand a person’s health in relationship to many different variables, stressors and personal beliefs. Traditional western medicine in contrast, takes a fragmented view of a person according to the presenting signs and symptoms of disease. Being technically advanced, traditional medicine may many times resolve a physical problem with surgery or drugs but if the emotional or spiritual problem is not attended to, it will manifest in different ways in the body. Holistic medicine does not devalue traditional medicine, but seeks to work synergistically with it to obtain the best possible balance for the body.
Me: Why, after being an RN, did you choose to follow the path of holistic medicine?
Kate: Before I became a nurse I was a massage therapist for 10 years. I knew the power of the body’s energy systems and healing power because I felt it first hand. I developed a new sense when touching people’s bodies, it was not a cognitive thing, my mind would go to a different place and my hands would know where energy was stuck and how to work out the places to achieve healthful flow in the body. It’s still something I cannot explain very well. When I started nursing school I was in a bad marriage and I suspected that one day I would need to support myself and my 2 daughters. Nursing is a career that pays well, and there is always a job waiting somewhere if you are a nurse. My grandmother and aunt were nurses and it was a natural progression from massage therapy. Or so I thought. I had envisioned nursing as a healing path where I could really be used as a catalyst of change in bringing people closer to a natural state of health. After working in small and large hospitals my optimistic attitude turned to one of a jaded individual. Most days I was far too busy passing medication and charting to spend time with my patients to ask about how they landed themselves in a hospital bed. Furthermore, I discovered many times, that many patients had a long history in the medical system and were either too sick or tired to entertain the idea of even changing their diet. Hospitals place a lot of pressure on nurses, not to help patients get well, but to make sure they are happy with the “service”. Hospitals are funded in part by patient satisfaction surveys, and sometimes as a nurse you are expected to act more like a concierge at a hotel than a medical professional. It’s confusing, and there is so much liability involved, it seems actual nursing care in a hospital is a very small piece of the pie in relation to how many rules and regulations and proper documentation that must be completed each shift. The short answer to your question though is: I want to get back to my holistic roots, knowing what I know now as a nurse, to be able to honor the whole person; to be a guide to their best life. As a health coach I wish to spend at least an hour with my clients, getting to know their own original “ecosystem”. Nursing is an honorable career, most people who become nurses do so because we genuinely care, it’s who we authentically are. The medical system however, has a way of chewing us up and making us hard, or worse, apathetic. Not all, but some. I could go on, but I’ll stop there. I did end up getting divorced, and I was able to support myself and daughters nicely on my wages as a RN. I’m forever grateful for that.
Me: In your opinion, what’s the simplest thing a person can do to induce their overall health?
Kate: In my opinion, the simplest thing a person can do to induce overall health is mindfulness. Many of us have these unhealthy dialogues going in our minds constantly. It’s exhausting. Practicing mindfulness brings us in tune with the present moment so we can make conscious decisions for ourselves. We’ve made so many food and activities “bad” and as a result we punish ourselves for eating/doing them. When we recognize why we do them, we develop a better self understanding, awareness, empathy, and love. We start to see what we can give ourselves, instead of what we can withhold. Here’s a good holistic activity: take a piece of paper, make a vertical line down the center, then one horizontal. Write one of these words in each of the four squares: emotional, spiritual, physical, social. In each square write corresponding ideas to each word for change in your life. For example: for physical I might say, ‘go for a walk 3x a week’, or ‘create a bedtime routine for better sleep’. All of them should be nurturing to you. Then each week, pick one or two and see how it changes your life. Never punish yourself, you are a beautiful spirit on this earth and your body is your vehicle. Doing great things with your life means honoring and caring for the WHOLE you.