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In 2017, my mind and body shut down. For about six weeks, I was unable to complete thoughts or sentences. I struggled to get out of bed. I started having PTSD and anxiety attacks that I’d never experienced before.
At the same time, I lost my health insurance. In my time of greatest need, I could no longer afford medical health care.
It sure didn’t feel like it at the time, but this has turned out to be one of the greatest blessings of my life.
I became obsessed with figuring out ways to heal my depression and anxiety using whatever I could get my hands on, short of a prescription pad.
Since that time, I have read more than 150 books on natural healing, health and happiness. (I started with human health and happiness but quickly expanded my interests to dog health and happiness, too.) I’ve taken countless more courses and earned certifications from Duke University and Berkeley University. I’ve joined groups, learned from experts and opened my mind to therapies I never would have known about if I hadn’t been in this situation.
Three things happened as a result of this health and happiness obsession:
- I healed.
- My dogs healed.
- I found a new passion and purpose in my life.
What I learned from absorbing so many different viewpoints, practices and experiences absolutely transformed me—and my dogs.
Today, I am radiantly happy and living my truest, most fulfilling life. My dogs have added healthy, active years to their lives. And I am now on a mission to share what I learned so that others can create their happiest, healthiest lives, too.
Through Happy Dog Mom, I’ll be bringing you the mindset shifts, practices, foods, herbs and other therapies that have made the most difference in my life and my dogs’. None of this is meant to replace Western medical care. But what I found is that there is an entire world of healing available to us that most people never get a chance to take advantage of, because their doctors weren’t trained in it, their culture doesn’t accept it, or it wasn’t passed down through their families.
Adding natural healing to your medical toolbox doesn’t make you a witch or a weirdo. It makes you a more empowered and complete healer, both for yourself and your loved ones around you.
I hope that sharing the top 3 lessons I learned from my healing journey will inspire you to take a deeper look at your own health and happiness (and your dog’s, of course). Are you as happy and healthy as you want to be? What is standing in your way? Are you overwhelmed by the options? Or frustrated by a lack of options? Do you wish you could do more, but know you don’t have the time to do the research? Do you feel the pressure to become an expert in something before you get started? Do you worry what your friends, family, veterinarian or doctor will think if you ask questions or suggest alternative ideas?
I get it, I’ve been there.
Opening your mind to new ideas, doing the research and facing the fear of criticism involves creating some new neural pathways in your brain, and that can take some practice and bring up some resistance.
A great place to start is by exploring the three key lessons I learned on my healing journey. These aren’t actual techniques; they are mindset shifts. If you can read them and feel curious about the possibilities, I highly encourage you to join the Happy Dog Mom tribe as we grow and evolve. If you resist the ideas below, think that you have the “right” answer and you need to convince everyone of it, or don’t want to change a single thing about what you’re doing, this will not be the place for you.
Lesson #1: Only One Thing Can Actually Heal Us
This is so simple and yet so forgotten in modern society. The ONLY thing that can heal us is our own bodies, our own immune systems. Medicine doesn’t heal us. Nutrition and herbal supplements don’t heal us. They may repress the symptoms and give us boosts where needed, but in the end it is our bodies’ own repair and regeneration systems that get in there and do the actual healing. If you cut your finger, Bandaids and salves are great tools, but they can’t actually put your skin cells back together. Only your own body can make that magic happen.
The key to healing is to give our immune and repair systems the best environment possible. Pharmaceuticals can do that, but so can nutrition, supplements, mindfulness and so, so, so much more. Why not give you and your dog all the tools you can to create the best environment for a strong immune system and a happy, healthy, longer life?
Lesson #2: “Alternative” Therapies Aren’t Always Alternative
In many cases, alternative therapies are ancient, time-tested healing practices passed down from generation to generation—because they work. We’ve come to think of “alternative” therapies as a little bit out there, unproven, and not worth our time. I know I certainly had the belief that only modern medicine could be trusted. After all, I was raised by a nurse, married to a doctor for 20 years, and I managed hospital websites for a living. It took a real crisis in my life for me to open my mind, and even then I was a pretty skeptical nut to crack.
I still am. I still believe in research and evidence. I don’t try a single thing on my dogs or myself that doesn’t have evidence showing it is safe and has a record of getting results. The difference is that I no longer narrow my definition of “evidence.” When did we start requiring evidence to come from a laboratory or a rigorous clinical trial? Those things are excellent to have. But what if our evidence comes from HUNDREDS of years of native or generational wisdom, rather than a published paper?
the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid
In Blue Zone areas around the world, people have been documented to have a greater chance of living past 100 years old thanks to their natural diets, exercise and mindsets. Studies, books and even documentaries have legitimized the findings, but the results were real even without all that. These societies had unlocked keys to health and longevity, and they did it without clinical trials and published papers. They used the natural resources around them and passed down what worked through their generations. Science caught up with them later, did the research and then presented what these people have always been doing as “evidence” that whole foods can be a longevity tool.
When we close our minds to healing options that don’t have a white lab coat’s stamp of approval, we cut ourselves off from the overflowing wealth of well being that is available from the collective history and wisdom of humanity (and animals).
Lesson #3: There Are No Right Answers
There are no proven, “right” answers in healing because there are no two identical dogs, humans, lifestyles, philosophies, health histories or budgets. Anyone who claims they have the “right” way to do anything is working more from their ego-driven desire to be liked than from their compassion for your actual healing.
We see this a lot in dog nutrition. Some raw feeders in particular can get vehement that raw meaty bones are the only way to feed the friendly little wolf descendant who lives in your home. Feeding dogs raw food is great. I tried it. But I had three big dogs at the time who needed a lot of food, and the cost and the cleaning were overwhelming for me. That means raw feeding was not right for me, period. I didn’t need to be shamed or made to feel guilty about it. I just started to look for other healthy options.
There are always other healthy options.
The only time you run out of options is when you let yourself believe there are no other options.
When I opened my mind to healing options outside of Western medicine, I was blown away by the simple, common sense, time-tested methods that were available—and which I had never heard about because my society deemed them “alternative.” I felt like I had been robbed of decades of health and happiness because I was never taught these methods. In truth, though, the only person who robbed me of them was myself, by keeping my mind closed to them and by judging other people as “weird” or even unintelligent for using them.
The key to your greatest health and happiness is to find what works for YOU, no matter what label anyone else puts on it. Our drive to conform and not stand out is probably the biggest factor in our mental health struggles today. When you can learn how to find the mental strength to be an advocate for yourself (and your dog), you WILL create a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life than you can even imagine right now.
It’s Time to Re-Imagine Health and Happiness—for Us and Our Dogs
I want to be clear that I am not trying to sell you any miracle products or “fix it fast” techniques. What I can offer to other dog moms is deep knowledge and experience from doing what I love—research, asking questions, and breaking down complex ideas into simple baby steps. I know that having the time and drive to do the amount of research and exploration that I did isn’t available to everyone. It is now my mission in life now to offer the lessons I learned to others because I want EVERYONE (and every dog) to feel the profound levels of health and happiness that my dogs and I enjoy.
I know it’s possible because I’ve radically transformed my own life and the lives of my five senior Boxers. I want to show you how you can do the same.
If this interests you, join with me on Facebook, Instagram and my upcoming podcast, Dog Mom Diaries. Learn the psychological and spiritual transformations that took me from feeling depressed, lost and unlovable to living in unconditional love, happiness and energy—and that pulled two of my dogs back from the brink of death.
Let’s create the more beautiful world that you know is possible, for you and your dogs.