By Elizabeth Norlin
It’s interesting how life can have its twists and turns—quickly changing from the most exciting adventure that ever hit the face of the earth to the strongest and deepest heartache that ever existed.
A few years ago, if someone would have told me it’s not possible to overcome life’s challenges, I would have definitely said, “It’s all in the mind. Put your mind to it, and you can overcome anything.” To quote a popular song of the day: “Don’t worry, be happy.” I believed this philosophy. I lived it. I saw no room for sadness or grief.
Then it changed, and I had the opportunity to understand sadness and grief at a much deeper level than I ever thought possible. My lesson came slowly, out of nowhere—going quite unnoticed until it seemed to hit with a big bang. It is a story filled with grief and sadness, out of which tremendous growth and blessings have flowed.
When I reflect back on this experience today—when the doctors had no answers—I know something deep inside guided me through my illness.
When research showed a third of the people never got better, something within me spoke silently and strongly that I would be in the third that got better—and stayed better.
As a 28-year-old woman who had dreams of marriage and children, how could I ever function as a wife or mother, or even continue to support myself, when my energy was so far gone that I laid in bed 20 hours a day, too weak to move. Although I would not wish this diagnosis—Epstein-Barr Virus (sometimes known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) on anyone, the lessons I learned through my healing journey were invaluable.
The illness started out slowly, a bad, bad flu that lasted several weeks. I could not seem to shake it. Over the next six to eight months, the fatigue was overwhelming, the nightmares, like demons, danced in my head, anxiety attacks (which I had never experienced before) were rampant, and my inability to respond to antibiotics led my doctor to eventually order the test for the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV). My titer for EBV (antibody measurements) was about 20 times higher than normal.
I backed out of one obligation after another, gave up extra jobs, resigned from positions in clubs, and often had to cancel plans with friends because I didn’t have enough get up and go to get up and go. It was a time of introspection and reflection. People came into my life and filled any and all of my needs.
During the three years it took to heal, I learned to listen to my body, to myself, and to the deep knowing within.
Just as steel strengthens in heat, we are strengthened through the challenging times we face. The lessons I learned during this dark time in my life have shined so much light on me that I am eternally grateful.
There were beautiful and small celebrations along the way. My short-term memory faded to the point that if someone told me his or her name, I could not remember it a minute later. As I recovered, I became a professional motivational speaker giving wellness seminars. I so deeply celebrated that I was able to memorize and internalize a 60-plus-page script. WOW!
I remember driving throughout the state to give those wellness programs at hospitals all around Florida. The freedom of the open road was such a deep and humbling blessing. Just a few years earlier I was cooped up in my home, with just enough energy to make it across the hall and back. An old boss used to say, “The only thing constant is change.” I am grateful for that change!
As I focused on my recovery, I was blessed with a free home to live in, a friend who worked on my car, and a boss who paid for me to go to a health ranch to undergo a supervised (water-only) fast for 10 days. I learned that fasting for health purposes took the energy that normally went to digesting food and turned it toward healing within the body. There I met and ended up dating the general manager of the ranch, who taught me so much about the natural healing power within our bodies. With all that I learned, I knew that I was to write about this information and share it with others. It only took me 20 years, but I finally did it! My book, Our Bodies: The Optimal Design came out in 2013.
Today, as I reflect back, it is my desire to share what I have learned—and what I continue to learn—to help others listen to their bodies. It is really much easier than we sometimes realize, and many times we have the answers within.
Some of the tips I can share here are:
Tune in! Aches, pains, and thoughts often are trying to tell us something. How well are you listening to “your inner being?” How kindly and optimistically do you talk to yourself?
Using “body kinesiology” to self-assess is something I have learned over the years. Quietly stand and ask yourself a truth. Notice if your body sways. Then ask yourself a non-truth. Notice if your body sways a different way. Do this several times. Most people sway one way with truths and the opposite way with non-truths. I have seen many people use this to check in with “their inner truth,” testing whether they should take a particular job, date a particular person, make a particular financial decision, etc.
Alfonso Casterneira taught me: Ask yourself what you should “eat” and as you look at a menu, or food at a grocery store, notice if you feel a sensation within your body. Notice where the sensation is, what direction it moves, and how far it moves. This has helped me to make good decisions about food, based on what my body needs at that moment.
Life has a funny way of reminding us not to depend too seriously on others—or even ourselves—at times. Through these experiences I have begun learning how to depend on a stronger force, a higher power that I know as the Holy Spirit. Some people call this power God, the universe, synchronicity. Some even call it nonexistent. But I’ve come to know and believe that it is far from nonexistent.
I hope in sharing this, I hope you realize that you are not alone, and that there is hope—in every, and any, challenge that comes our way.
Elizabeth (Betty) Norlin has been a teacher, corporate trainer, motivational and wellness speaker and writer throughout her career. Her passion is discovering ways to connect ideas and people and sharing information in new, interesting, and useful ways. In her first book, Our Bodies: The Optimal Design, (www.whatisholistichealth.com) she teaches people how to understand and listen to the healing power within their own bodies. She and business partner, Randall James, also have a business, Pitchin’ in the Kitchen (www.pitchininthekitchen.com) that shares secrets for healthy living based on using food for health, plus much more. You can reach her at email@example.com.
This article is a chapter from the book Transform Your Life! written by 60 real-life heroes and experts and available at Amazon.com, BN.com, www.Transformation-Publishing.com and all ebook formats.