Shine Light Health

Slow Down

Originally Posted on September 3, 2015


"Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast - you also miss the sense of where you are going and why."  -Eddie Cantor


I have learned many important lessons in the last year of my life.  One of the most important lessons is to slow down and take time to really enjoy this life.  So often we find ourselves rushing through our days, from one appointment to the next.  There is never enough time and there is always a list of things to do that we never quite finish.  We believe the more we do, the more we will get done.  But what if the opposite is true, what if we accomplish more by doing less?  Sounds nice right?

Well, that is exactly what I have discovered over the past few months.  I started my Shine Light Journey nearly two months ago.  I heading to Chicago to see old college friends, Indiana to visit my brother, Kentucky to celebrate my sister’s birthday, Tennessee to see good friends and Texas to reconnect with friends I hadn’t seen in over 6 years.  It was great to see all of these beautiful faces and have inspiring conversations with all.  But when I got to Colorado something shifted.  I realized I needed to slow down, get grounded and focus a little more on myself.  I visited my best friend and then spent a week camping in the backcountry.  Serendipitously, I found my way to Valley View Hot Springs, nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains overlooking the San Juan Valley.  I took on a volunteer position as the Discovery Host in exchange for a beautiful place to call home for a few weeks.  

Here, I have been able to slow down.  I get up early, do my morning meditation and prayers.  I enjoy an outdoor yoga practice and a soak in the hot springs.  Every morning I find time to turn to the rising sun and in the evenings, I make sure to enjoy the sunset.  I have stop worrying about deadlines, timelines, appointments and dates.  I have learned to be present in this moment and not rush to get to the next.  It is one of the most healing places I have found on this journey and I am blessed to be here.  Somehow, slowing down, reconnecting with nature and taking the time to be present seems like healing to me.  It has helped me to reconnect with my purpose, to focus on what’s most important and let go of the rest.   To me, this is a healing environment, much more than a hospital could ever provide.

With Love and Light, Courtney

Shine Light Health

Take Charge

Originally Posted on July 24, 2015

When I was first diagnosed with HPV I had different doctors telling me different things.  One doctor said it is a disease I will have to live with for the rest of my life.  Another told me it will clear up on its own.  It was both confusing and overwhelming.  As my situation progressed to severe cervical dysplasia, there seemed to be even more opinions than answers.  That’s when I realized the only opinion I wasn’t considering was my own.  I was fortunate enough to have an incompetent doctor in Moab.  If it wasn’t for her mismanagement of my case, I would have never questioned what the doctors were telling me.  It took a lot of poor communication and bouncing between doctor’s offices for me to realize it was time for me to take charge of my own health.

How often do we trust the doctors blinding, accepting their word as truth?  We’ve been taught from a young age to trust the doctor.  But what about trusting yourself?  It’s my body, who better to assess what’s going on.  At best, a doctor will spend 15 minutes discussing your health history and symptoms, but doesn’t take the time to learn about the emotional or psychological aspects of your illness.  I, on the other hand, have spent nearly 32 years in this body and have an understanding of the inner workings, reactions and emotional history connected to my illness.  With all this insight, why not give myself a little more credit to take care of me?

I knew in my gut that surgery and other medically invasive procedures were not the answer.  It didn’t feel right.  It didn’t make sense to me.  So I started doing my research.  I started at WebMD, and continued reading all the books and articles I could get my hands on.  I educated myself on my own condition.  After months of research, I realized that if I was going to get well, it wasn’t about creating more trauma in my body, but learning to heal the trauma that was already there.

I created a prescription that works for me, including daily meditation, yoga, prayer, visualization, vitamins, supplements, healthy eating, lots of clean water, good sleep and stress reduction.  But to me, it needed to be more than that, I needed to find joy in this journey.  So I decided to plan a road trip; to visit the friends I always say I’m going to visit and hike the trails I’ve always wanted to hike; to reconnect with nature and a slower, stress-free lifestyle; to breathe the fresh air and walk barefoot through the grass.   Mind you, this is not for everyone.  These are the healing modalities that I believe in and I understand they may not work for all.  But the point is, do what resonates with you.  If you don’t like your doctor, find a new one.  If you don’t believe in the form of treatment offered, don’t do it.  Do your research, connect to your intuition and decide for yourself what’s best for your body.  In the end, no one else will take charge of your health but you.

With Love and Light, Courtney

Shine Light Health

Shine Light Journey

For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction. -Cynthia Occelli

In 6 months, the man I thought I would marry broke up with me, my sister died of cancer at the age of 34 and I lost my home not once but twice (we will get to all of that). Now here I am at the gynecologist's office awaiting what I can only assume to be more bad news.

See, several years ago I was diagnosised with HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that effects 1 in 4 women and probably just as many men (there is currently no approved test for men). The doctor said, "Let's wait and see if it clears on it's own." So we did. The virus created dysplasia (mutated cells) within the cervix and they assured me it would lead to cancer unless we did a procedure to remove the inner lining of the cervix. Trusting the doctor, I agreed. While it did clear the problem, it returned a year later, worse than before. That's when I realized the doctor's approach was a cover up of the symptoms and I needed to get to the root of the problem. I denied another procedure.

Waiting at the gynocologist's office, I was hoping for the best and preparing for the worse. My fears were confirmed. The dysplasia was still present at a rating of CIN3 (there are only 3 stages, before it becomes cancer). I explained to her that I didn't want to do another procedure and was hoping to explore alternative therapies. She spent the next 20 mintues lecturing me on how natural therapies don't work. And that if I didn't have the procedure done, I would get cancer. The only other option she offered was to "pop out a couple babies real quick" so she could give me a hysterectomy. Seriously! So one month after my sister died of cancer, I found myself with the possibility of facing the same disease. (Take a deep breath now.)

I listened to the doctor spit her statistics, explaining that 95% of HPV cases clear themselves. I am of the 5% that did not. Of those 5%, the procedure I had clears 98% of cases. I am the 2% that did not.  I asked her if she would be willing to monitor me as I explored alternative therapies. Her fear of getting sued for malpractice was so great (even as I assured her I had no desire to sue her and didn't even have a lawyer), she wouldn't agree to keep me as a patient unless I agreed to the procedure. I explained I don't believe in the procedure. She said it's not about belief, it's about scientific fact. She's partially right. Whether it's chemotherapy or an herbal remedy, if you don't believe in it, it won't work. However, it is wise to back up your beliefs with scientific research.

So, here we go. This blog is my story, a love letter, a research paper, the proof behind my beliefs and the chronicles of my journey as I learn to take back control of my own health, let go of the shame associated with HPV, and find a path to healing that I believe in. My hope is to share my story so other's feel more comfortable to share their own. I want to educate other's so they have more information to make decisions about their health. I want to empower people to connect with their intuition and trust in the amazing healing powers within each and every one of us.  

With Love and Light, Courtney

Shine Light Health

New Year, New Way

Originally Posted on January 2, 2015

Where were you at midnight?  Most of us spend weeks planning the perfect answer to this question.  Making sure we are at the perfect place, with amazing food and drink, great music and surrounded by the people that we love.  Last year I had just that.  A fine whiskey in hand as I watch one of my favorite bands in a small music venue with my boyfriend by my side, ready to be kissed at midnight.  Looking back, it amazes me how much can change in a year.  

My personal health was in jeopardy, with the precancerous cells in my cervix returning worse than before the surgery which was meant to cure it.  My sister was diagnosed with stage IV cancer.  And the boyfriend, so willing to kiss me last new years, had broken up with me.  This all prompted a cross country move, leaving behind jobs, friends, and any sense of stability I had left.  

So as this new years rolled around, I asked myself: Where do I want to be to ring in the new year?  It would have been easy enough to find a good whiskey, a good concert or even a cute boy to kiss, carrying on the traditions of the past.  But as I thought about how I want to live my life, none of these traditions seemed to align.  So I decided to start my own tradition.

This year I spent New Years Eve at home, alone, and yes, by choice.  I turned on some music, grabbed some essential oils and my favorite tea, and at midnight I began 108 sun salutations, a yogic tradition of devotion.  I'd heard of other's doing this for solstice or other significant events but never had I attempted it myself.  After less than an hour and less than half of my sun salutations complete, I got tired.  My practice was getting sloppy.  So I honored that, I hadn't stayed up that long in a while, so I went to bed.  When  I woke up early the next morning, with no hangover in site, I went right back to my mat and finished what I had started.  I took my time, I honored my body and by 9am I had finished all 108 sun salutations.

It wasn't a grandiose event, but I realized, one by one, step by step, I can do anything I set my mind to.  It took discipline, but more so, a willingness to be OK with being alone on new years.  It was probably more challenging mentally than physically.  But as I look to the new year and what I want from it, I am ready to challenge myself both physically and mentally, to ask the tough questions and face the difficult truth, to love, to learn, to change and grow, to find new traditions that align with who I am and who I want to be.

Happy New Year's Everyone!  Wishing you a happy and healthy 2015.

With Love and Light, Courtney

Shine Light Health

Accepting Change, from Moab to Moline

Originally Posted on November 24, 2014

Charles Darwin said "It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change." 

As many of you know, I have recently experienced alot of change in my life.  My boyfriend, the one I thought was the one, broke up with me.  I left behind jobs, friends and an amazing town.  I started school at the Institute of Intigrative Nutrition.  I moved cross-country to be closer to my sister, who was recently diagnosed with stage IV cancer.  I started 2 new jobs.  Started hunting for a new house, even though I just finished renovating "our" house.  Basically everything I knew of life, I had to let go of and start anew.  I like to think of it as the Darwin Challenge. 

It is difficult to let go of everything we have known to be comfortable, to step outside, or sometimes be pushed out, of our comfort zone.  It feels, well, uncomfortable.  No one likes that feeling.  Even if we are unhappy in our situation we would rather be unhappy and comfortable than explore the unknown. 

It may seem hard at first, taking that first step, but if you're brave enough to take it, or life takes it for you, don't worry, it's not that bad.  Yes, it's uncomfortable.  Yes, you're going to have tough days.  But it is outside of our comfort zone that we find growth and change.  We jump out of the stagnant pools we got so comfortable in, to the running waters of the unknown.  If we resist the waters, we get nowhere.  But if we learn to go with the flow, we find life to be much easier.  All of a sudden we are not fighting life, but flowing with it.

The only thing constant in life is change.  If we understand that, then we quit trying to hold on, we learn to more easily let go of the things that are no longer working for us and move on.  We are not scared of the future, but learn to embrace it.  And as we embrace change we find comfort outside of our comfort zone.  And that is where we find true peace.

As I start to settle into this new chapter in my life, I try to focus on the positive.  I don't let myself get irritated by the long car rides, the cold weather or static electricity-ridden hair.  Because I know what comes along with this change is new growth and a greater understanding of my place and purpose on this earth.

With Love and Light, Courtney