Episode 28: The Biography Of Your Biology

with guest Celia Hilson

Lauren: So, Celia, we're sitting in your living room.

Celia: Mmhmm.

L: Thank you for having me here.

C: Oh, I love having you here.

L: Yeah.

C: Yeah.

L: It's nice to sit with you.

C: Thank you.

L: So just to start out, can you give me a little summary of your health journey?

C: So, my health journey is a number of things.


C: Actually when I was born, I was very tiny and sickly, quote unquote. My father loves to tell that story about how I quote unquote almost died and here I am, this strong being. But I always struggled with weight and as I got older I was very body conscious and then yeah, I would probably say around my forties, things started to really, really shift a lot. I was, I was fairly healthy until I had a car accident. I mean despite the typical body change stuff, I think that really kicked things into gear chronically.

L: Mmm.

C: And so I remember a very distinct car accident was Halloween 2008. Do you remember?

L: I do.

C: And I was on my way to see my friend and I was at a stoplight and it was raining that day and I saw this truck behind me was a bit…..It was one of those dump trucks, you know, the kind with a big double wheels on it and I distinctly remember having a cup of coffee in my hand, came to a full stop, but apparently the driver could not come to a full stop and I, I must have been looking down or something. And as I think back on that memory and play everything in slow motion was one of those moments where I wasn't thinking “Oh, he's gonna hit me.” But I was thinking this truck is still coming. And before I knew it I had gotten hit in the rear. I was driving, uhm, a Subaru. An Outback, and just the shock of the hit because I was front in line. There was no one else in front of me. And I sat there for a couple of seconds, just sort of “What just happened?” And a few minutes later maybe I got out of the car and I leaned against the car and I think the driver got out, walked over to me and he was clearly visibly shaken…

L: Mmmm.

C: And said something about losing his job. And I just was in a completely other orbit.

L: Yes.

C: So although I was able to walk and talk, I think I was kind of on automatic, which now I know some years later after having several car accidents because that was just one, uhm, and all hit from behind ironically, uhm, that the body just goes into shock and fast forward I was taken to the hospital, waiting for my friends to get there, given pain medicine, all of that. And a year of...No, it was over a year of physical therapy. I think that was probably, that was the second of two I had already had. But I remember just as some point I started thinking...I've had several car accidents and all from behind. What is this about?

L: What *is* this about?

*Light laughter*

C: What is this about? I'm getting hit from the rear. I can't see what's coming, it’s just this impact. But I remember every single time I got hit, I didn't know it at the time. What I was experiencing in my body was anxiety.

L: Yeah.

C: I would get this strong fluttering in my chest whenever I would drive. Everything was sort of in hyperfocus mode. And I also had this kind of sense of….what is the word?

*Pauses for a moment*

C: Almost like I had to have this peripheral vision from everywhere.

L: Mmmm. On the lookout.

C: So I was always trying to check out everything behind me and I remember gripping the steering wheel harder and breathing more or trying to breathe more and just that feeling of dis-ease in my, mainly in my chest area. I distinctly remember it just being in my chest all the time and I thought I would... that would never end. That went on for so long. I was like “Is this ever gonna end?”. This fluttering and this fear. Every time I drive I was driving slower.

L: Mmhmm.

C: Driving a lot slower. Uhm, I was taking corners a lot slower and the winter was the worst. Actually my anxiety quadrupled during the winter, so I was extra careful. My son was also extra anxious, too, I think after that.

L: Yeah.

C: All four times I went through physical therapy and now I have a hard time with long distance drives. My leg and my right side, which is also the side I favor, uhm, I think was greatly impacted by that. And I started seeing a physical therapist for a long time, which was great. Uhm, that was really helpful and I also, I think it was a catalyst for me to really, really think about my relationship with and to, to, uhm, with my body. Like, what is the bio---what is the biography of my biology?

L: Ooh.

C: You know, how am I, what are the stories that I'm carrying in my body and how does that get manifested externally in terms of what I'm impacted by. Cause those trucks and cars all were impacting me every time.

L: Yeah, yeah.

C: So I'm better, but I definitely still have that sense of anxiety.

L: I bet. Well, I just want to say it makes a lot of sense. You know, going through something like that sort of...Obviously it's a trauma.

C: Mmhmm. Yes. I wouldn't have called it that at the time.

L: Right.

C: Like you got hit get over it.

L: Yeah. So the story, I don't know where that, where did that story come from? Culturally or just internally?

C: Which one?

L: The one that said… “Get over it, pull it together.”

C: Oh yeah. Pull it together. You, you know, do what you need to do.

L: Is that, just like, how you would normally deal with stuff?

C: Yeah.

L: Difficult stuff.

C: Yeah. Actually.

L: So it makes sense. That same, same kind of go to story is…

C: That was my MO, yeah.

L: Yeah.

C: I've been a single mom full time single mom, so it was all... I was always on the go, got to get things done. Don't have time to fall apart. So, do what you need to do. Let's get it together.

L: Right. Keep going.

C: Keep going, yeah.

L: And keep going, leave so much behind.

C: You know what a, what a metaphor! “Leave so much behind.”


C: Because I was like, I've been hit from behind.

L: Yes, that's true.

C: And so I was really forced to be present. I don't think I stayed present though.

L: Sure.

C: Right. So everything was about, I really don't have time to slow down for this because I was going to school at the time and everything. It's like, now I got to go to physical therapy and do this and do that - how am I gonna….

L: It was like another job, yeah.

C: Yeah, It was. Well, fortunately I had an amazing community and I do believe in this concept of, of biology and biography, you know. I really started to pay attention, like...what is about, you know, what is this trying to show me? The first thing was, and I don't remember when this happened, but it was one of those slow motion moments where I had to stop. I think I was rushing that day and a turtle was in the middle of the road.

L: Wow!

C: It was like slow down, so I knew at some point, you know, it's kind of like people talk about those quiet moments of knowing when you're asking “What is this about?” And it was like, I'm sorry I'm going in my head because now I see it. So it's difficult to verbalize.

L: It’s hard to translate, yeah.

C: Well, those like construction signs, like you see slow caution slow down.

L: Mmhmm.

C: For me in the beginning it was caution. I think that was in my body. Caution. But the overall message of the hits was like “Slow down” ...because I was always going. Like, I got to do this, I gotta do that. I got to go, go, go, go, go, go. So that concept of slowing down just was foreign to me.

L: Mmmm.

C: Like I don't have time to slow down.

L: Yeah.

C: I have too much that needs to get done.

L: Even after the impact your move forward and keep going, keep going. And so the leading behind them thinking is like leaving behind the process that I think we all need when we've experienced trauma..

C: Right.

L: Which is being shot greed, right?

C: Right.

C: And that and the languaging of the word trauma, you know, in my community, in the African American community, I think people have a much better understanding of how it can be applied now, but it used to be trauma with just this word that was only reserved for really bad domestic violence kinds of situations.

L: Mmmm.

C: But this idea of trauma, you don't get, you don't get the claim to trauma.

L: Claim, yeah.

C: You are not traumatized. Okay, you were hit and you'll do what you need to do. Were you in the hospital? Were you, you know...

L: Like you had to prove it, or...

C: Exactly.

L: Yeah.

C: But if something happens that shifts the psyche, it creates this sense of fear. Nobody has time for that. That's not valid. Like come on, get it, get it together.

L: So it's like the fear is your fault.

C: Yes.

L: You got to undo that and just keep going.

C: Right. Right.

L: So that sounds kind of lonely.

C: Well, on the inside, yes. Externally I had lots of support, but I wasn't connected still to this story of trauma. It wasn't a trauma story in my mind. It was a...”Damn, I got hit again?”

L: Mmmm.

C: What an inconvenience.

L: Right.

C: Now I've got to do this and now I got to do that. It was never….*makes squealing tires noise* Oh Wow. Okay. Listen, I just had a moment like...


L: Yeah. Like, let’s acknowledge…

C: Pump the brakes.

L: Right, right.

C: So what a metaphor for getting hit by a car. Right?

L: Yeah.

C: In that first one in particular, I hit my brake. I stopped and well in all, yes. Oh, I'm just having a moment. And every car accident I hit my brake. It was never a situation where I was already sort of just idle there in, and every situation getting hit from behind. I had to brake or embrace. The only time I didn't was when the person came in, veered into my lane going in the opposite direction and hit me head on from the front.

L: Mmmm.

C: So That's interesting to me. And in that accident where they veered into my lane, I tried to turn the car in the opposite direction. So the word that's coming to my mind as I'm reliving this is control, you know. I didn't have any control in those situations. And control is very important to me.

L: Mmmm.

C: You have to understand.


C: Control is very important to me.

L: Yeah.

C: And those were all situations where I had no control.

L: Wow.

C: So the slowing down is about, I think recognizing how to use control, how to have relationship to control in those moments. I didn't have control.

L: Yeah.

C: You know, the break was trying to control the situation.

L: Yeah.

C: And so I'm, I'm, I'm sort of struck by this idea and this notion that break, you know, that's what we do in the car. You hit the brake to control the stop.

L: Yeah, yes. And you said something really beautiful few moments ago. You said “I either had to do brake or embrace.”

C: Mmhmm. Ah, okay. Uh-huh.

L: I wonder like what, how does that translate in your life? Now I'm going to call it a notable quote from the great Celia Hilson.


C: Oh my goodness. I'll have to write that down.

L: Yeah.

C: Break or embrace. Uhm, it took a long time, you know, to embrace.

L: Hmm.

C: Part of it also just, um, and I think embracing this idea that I could take care of things. I'm embracing this idea that I could actually be traumatized, that I could actually stop for a minute and take care of myself instead of trying to take care of so many other things and other people. That was always…. Things had to get done. Things have to get done. I don't have time to slow down. I'm in school, I have to finish this degree.

L: Mmmm.

C: I have to pick my son up from daycare, I have to work, you know, I have to keep a roof over our heads and I have to study at night because I can't do it during the day because I'm working. There is no time to stop, you know? Now I have this lovely practice of absolutely making time for myself. Like that break has to happen. That is control...creating a space. There's creative control. Actually.

L: Ooh, I like that.

C: I'm creating a space where I can control this time and space that's reserved for stillness, that's reserved for a centeredness, you know. So looking back, I would say that that's what those trauma lessons were about, like just bringing me back to myself.

L: Mmmm.

C: Those last part, those scattered parts, just sort of slowly integrating them again through my body.

L: Yes.

C: Um, yeah, in the back, the back is one of those places, you know, that's right in the sacrum area where there's so much about relationship. Relationship to self, relationship to, ah, that's the word worthiness.

L: Mmmm.

C:  I think that was a huge one for me. So big at that time in my life. So, so, so big. Uhm, so that was one. Control, worthiness. Being okay with this idea that something happened and to acknowledge that. Yeah, I would say those are three big ones.

L: I think of the worthiness being connected back to that messaging that you're talking about, which says you need to prove yourself in order to claim trump.

C: Yeah.

L: So then this is a weird way to put it, but like.

C: Mmhmm. Yeah.

L: Worthy of claiming that this really happened.

C: Yes, happened. Mmhmm, mmhmm.

L: And that, just to hear it, like I just feel it in my body as I hear your words and your message.

C: Mmhmm.

L:  How important that is, I think for all of us to take the time to acknowledge what's happened to us.

C: Yes, yes. Two words popped in as I'm listening to you say that: self care, you know, self care. And many of us have been raised to think that that's such a selfish thing. That's been my banner for the, I don't know how many years now. So that happened in my forties. I'm now almost 55. And so these last 15 years has been a journey in and out. You know, those accidents happened over a series of a couple of years each time.

L: Mmhmm.

C: So this idea of claiming something like self care was pretty radical at that time.

L: Mmhmm.

C: That time in my life. Uhm, at that time in my life and even going to the chiropractor or physical therapy, the sort of these external topical kinds of interventions. But the internal intervention was the one that was really missing. You know, I wasn't journaling about this. I wasn't, I wasn't meditating on it. It was just such an inconvenience.

L: Yeah. It was sort of like, how can I just fast forward through this part?

C: And I really wanted to fast forward through it, you know, I'll do all the stuff I need to do, but I just don't have time to stop and sort of be in this “woe is me” place about it, you know?

L: Yeah. And it's so interesting to me, this concept of feeling...

C: Mmhmm.

L: Experiencing our emotions, like really truly just being with them.

C: Mmhmm.

L: It’s so curative.

C: Mmhmm.

L: And yet it's so counter-intuitive for so many of us.

C: Absolutely.

L: To be in the messiness, to be in the pain, the emotional pain and upset and shock.

C: Oh, if you had told me that in 2008, I would have said, :Lauren, I really don't have time for that.”


C: And don't even talk to me about that.

L: If you could go back into 2008 and talk to the you have them, what would you say to her?

C: First of all, there was a sense of loss on multiple levels. You know, so I would have told her it's okay to have grief about what happened, you know, and that's radical. This idea that, okay, how does grief play into a car accident? So there was loss of my sense of control. There was loss of my sense of balance. There was lost of my sense of groundedness. Oh, that's the other thing. I was so afraid to drive on the ground. So how do I want to say this? It became my mission to get a vehicle that gave me height.

L: Yes. That makes sense.

C: That to this day, I mean...now I have a car that I've always wanted that gets me off the ground. So that piece went on for like 15 years. I need to be off the ground and I will talk to everybody about this. I need to be off the ground.

L: Yeah.

C: And I did that. Just that thought just came to me because I'm now I'm remembering that part of loss and fear of being on the ground. Something can get me quicker if I'm lower on the ground and because that truck was so big, I thought that truck had a lot of power and control because it was way above the ground from where I was.

L: Mmhmm.

C: So my whole back window got bashed in the rear so that the window was knocked out just from the grill of that truck.

L: Oof!


C: And I remember I remember seeing the word “Mack”. M-A-C-K. Mack. Okay.


C: So I couldn't even see the driver. I couldn't see that's how high up the driver was.

L: Oh my gosh, yeah.

C: So it just made me think about this whole idea of being off the ground.

L: Yes! And that was something that you could have as you would say, creative control over.

C: That’s true.

L: You could create that environment for yourself…

C: That’s true.

L: Which is a very sweet way of listening to your needs.

C: Interesting.

L: It's almost like hearing the inner child say “I need something”.

C: Mmhmm.

L: And your inner adult is like, “You've got it.” Let's get some...what did you have, a jeep?

C: Well, I'm, I'm working on that now. Those parts that you speak of, you know, uhm, at the time it was probably my adolescent that was up and so inconvenienced by all of this and then sort of what's the word, yeah inconvenience, but, and, and, and I can't think of the word I wanna use, but there was a defiant.

L: Mmhmm.

C:  Defiant, defiant that I had to have that car that was off the ground.

L: Mmm, got it.

C: It took me a long time to get that vehicle that was off the ground, but I remember that that was a mission that I placed in my file, that at some point I was going to get a car that had me off the ground.

L: Right.

C: So I feel like I'm a little more in control now off the ground.

L: Yeah, and it’s also, like less vulnerable. That's part of it too.

C: That's a great word. That's a great word. That was one of my favorite words, actually. Vulnerable. Yes. Yes. I felt very vulnerable. When I was lower to the ground.

L: Yeah.

C:  Like at any point in time. It's mostly if I was on a highway, especially if I was on highway, my heart rate would go up and some people just in general, if a truck's going by on the highway, sometimes I'll speed up trying to get….but particularly and still to this day, if a truck is driving behind me, I don't care what kind of truck it is. It can even be another truck vehicle similar to mine. If it's behind me, I move.

L: Hmm.

C: So I'm still working with that sense of “Uh-oh, got to move.”

L: Yeah. Well that makes sense. I mean it's like the body, the brain, the body wants to protect themselves and when you have the information of what happened in the past, it makes sense. You would want to move away from that very scenario.

C: Yes. That's true. That's true.

L: Totally.

C: But especially if I'm at a stoplight.

L: Oh, yeah.

C: If I see a mack truck coming, oh, I have to breathe and I have to talk to myself. And sometimes what I do purposely is I'll tilt my rear view mirror, because I don't want to see the truck, I don't want to see how close it is to me. Now I'll look in the other mirror, the side mirror, especially the one that looks like they're further away, but I don't want to see them close up.

L: Yeah.

C: So I'm still doing that work a little bit. It's better.

L: So when you talk to yourself in those moments, what do you say?

C: Breathe, breathe. That’s my go-to word. Breathe. And I also say….it's a practice now. Soon as I breathe, two words come right after that. Thank you. That's, that's like my mantra now. Breathe...because I noticed when I'm driving, I'm holding my breath a lot and then all of the sudden I’ll go *exhales heavily* and then I’ll immediately go, “Thank you.” And I love that practice. It just comes naturally.

L: That’s beautiful.

C: Now If I could integrate it in other areas of my life.


L: That’s what we're all just working on, you know. What is it? Who is it that you're thanking when you say thank you?

C: That's a great question. I think there are so many entities and unseen forces that I feel held by so I’m saying thank you to my ancestors, saying thank you to the universe. I have a car, angels that I call them my car angels. Whenever I get a parking space or whenever I breathe and in a lane and somebody behind me, I'm….actually, I do care that in other areas of my life to breath. Now that I think about it.

L: Hmmmm.

C: Whenever I'm holding it and whenever there's a release, uhm, makes me think of that book “Waiting to Exhale.”

L: Yeah.

C: Like I'll exhale and I'll say thank you. You know, so I think I'm just saying thank you to all of the unseen places and forces and beings…. Including faith, uhm, that hold that part of me when I forget to hold it. So yeah, it's like thank you, Breath moving through my body, always holding me up at stoplights...at night when my anxiety really goes up, when I'm driving.

L: Mmm.

C: Especially if I don't know where I am and I have this immense, immense fear of getting lost. So I work with that too. Uhm, yeah. Breath is everything. Breath is everything. Thank you for reminding me that I'm okay. I'm grounded.

L: Mmmm.

C: Yeah. I took one just now. Felt good. Thank you.

L: Me Too. Thank you. You're welcome.


L: And now look around the room to the unseen and say “thank you”.

C: Yes. Yes. That force was there. That force is there, we’re up under them. Now I call these my mothers. So sometimes I have those visions, too, when I breathe like those….Those are the ones who hold me.

L: This is a painting that you have recently?

C: Yes. It's a John Goodwin painting of these beautiful black women mothers who are watching over me. Uhm, so I have it hanging over my couch because I always liked to feel like I'm being held. Like they're always watching. They're watching over my home.

L: Yes. They’re presiding.

C: Yup. There you go.

L: Yeah.

C: The council, the Council of the mothers and the grandmothers.

L: So, because I'm your friend.

C: Yeah. You are.

L: I would love to reflect back to you how I see you. How I see you, part of how I see you. Uhm, if you're open to that.

C: Mmhmm, absolutely open to that.

L: You are a curator of your life.

C: I love that.

L: Yeah. Well, you do it.

C: Curator of your life.

L: What I, we've known each other for what like 10, 10 plus years.

C: Yeah.

L: And what I've seen, I've seen different parts of your journey.

C: Longer than that, to 2006.

L: 12 years.

C: This program, yeah.

L: Yeah, and you, and this is also, I think part of how we interact together is to acknowledge what we want more of in our lives.

C: Mmhmm.

L: When I see this painting and the home that you've set up for yourself and the people you choose to surround yourself with.

C: Hmmm.

L: That's very much you're doing to. You are so humble and you connect with spirit and you are aware of blessings because it's not like, oh, you did all this. It's just you as an individual, you've involved yourself in your world in such a way that you're creating the life that your heart needs.

C: Hmmm.

L: So that's what I see. And actually I have a story for you.

C: Oh, please.

L: I was the first person to see you when you had the accident. Right?

C: Yes. I remember.

L: I think it was me you were on the way to meet. I think I was in the cafe when you texted.

C: It was you.

L: I was so scared. I was like hoping you were okay. I got there. The coffee was all over you. You were just shaking.


L: Yes. That was a very powerful.

C: That was halloween.

L: That was Halloween...and when, when it was, so you were taking care of very lovingly by the people who showed up. I was so glad that you are in good hands and then went to the hospital and at least one other friend and I met with you.

C: Yeah, I remember.

L: So you were in the hospital bed. This is my recollection, and you were so divine, you were like totally disoriented you.


L: I mean I feel like it was an essence moment because you were in this bed. You didn't have much to grab onto as far as what the heck is going on, but you did have some capacity to create.

C: Yes.

L: And I remember you, you couldn't move your head because you were in the neck brace. You're Kinda like looking up at the ceiling and you said, “Please get my journal.”


C: Oh, no. Oh my gosh. Really?

L: And so we got your journal and you said, “Turn to the last page and read it to me.” We opened up to the page and there was a poem you had written sitting under a tree at the park that morning and we read it to you. Now, it was so beautiful because you were, you knew you needed to hear it. You probably wanted us to hear it. You were being nourished by your own spirit.

C: Oh my gosh.

L: In that moment it was one of the coolest. I've had chills thinking about it.

C: I just have a very, very vague recollection. Wow. I'm just kind of stunned right now. I'm a little speechless because I can see, you know, the film is playing in my mind's eye.

L: Yeah.

C: And I absolutely remember you there. But. And I absolutely remember being given some kind of medication.

L: Oh yeah.

C: And shaky and feeling, um, like you said, disoriented. But also there was, there was a part of me that I called it the, the diva part came out and I think that was a little bit of trying to have some control over because I know what was going on.

L: Yes. And so..

C: Maybe that's why I asked what I think.

L: I'm associating like the creative control, right? You're tapping into your hearts capacity found to call in what you needed or that.

C: That’s profound. I remember that.

L: Well, yeah, it was a big day for me too, because you know, there's, I wouldn't call it trauma. For me, maybe vicarious trauma…

C: Uh huh, yes.

L: Of knowing my friend has really been in a challenging situation and gone through such, such a big deal.

C: Oh my goodness.

L: And you know what I did that day.

C: Oh my goodness.

L: I went to the peace pagoda in Leverett, Massachusetts.

C: Yes.

L: And took my camera with me.

C: Yes.

L: And I did my first intentional photo meditation, took nature portraits just to regulate my own systems just to get back in my body to slow down.

C: Wow.

L: You know, because it was such a big day. So I have these photos.

C: What?!

L: I don't have them with me, I can  just show you them. I can show them to you. I have them online.

C: Oh Wow. Yes.

L: I can't believe I didn't tell you that. I may have given you one. You can have all of them by the way, if you want.

C: Oh my gosh.

L: And they were all taken on Halloween on that day and I associate them all with that day. And so maybe for this episode, I'll take quotes from each episode.

C: Yes.

L: I'll take your quotes, I'll put them over that nature. Photography.

C: Stop. Oh my goodness.

L: Yeah.

C: I'm just, I'm, I, uh, I. Oh wow.

L: We haven't talked about this really.

C: And I'm also, I'm getting goosebumps. I'm also feeling like this is a full circle moment.

L: Yeah, it is. You know, I don't think we talked about the accident because I think it wasn’t, we never talked about it.

C: We've never talked about that.

L: Yeah.

C: I mean you've, you checked in to see how I was doing and I wasn't in a place to talk about that journey.

L: Yeah. Sure. And that's, I think, important to respect.

C: Well, I didn't even know I was having a journey.


L: That's such a great way of putting it.

C: I really didn’t.

L: I want to take a moment to just let that sink in because I think what you just said is some wisdom for all of us. I wasn't, what did you say? I wasn't ready to be in that journey because I didn't even really…

C: And I didn’t know I was having one.

L: Yeah, I didn't even know that I was having a journey.

C: I didn’t, I was having an inconvenience.

L: Yeah. So that was the frame changed.

C: Absolutely. And I'm all about reframing. I love reframing.

L: So, so back to that 2008 you, you would say the first thing you said was, “I would tell her it's okay to grieve.”

C:  I would tell her it's okay to grieve. I would tell her it's okay to breathe, especially when you're grieving. I would tell her that what really happened was traumatic and that it's okay to call it that. Uhm, and that it's going to be okay. You know, I mean, I know that sounds like the typical sort of proverbial response, but you know….and you're going to grow another part of yourself that's important. A part that you're going to need to know later on that you need going to need to call on for later on. You know. And so coming back to this story today, it's so interesting when you ask me that question, what would you tell her? Mmmm. I'm taking a breath cause that's important. Uhm, I think. Well she got left behind actually. I never, I never went to get her and so when I, when I talk about lost parts, that's definitely a last part, the part that there are different parts, fragmented parts in each one of those car accidents because it was like...okay, step one, step two, step three, step four. Call the authorities, take down notes, write a police report, deal with the insurance company, deal with whoever, uh, physical therapy, set up an appointment for chiropractic and then go back to work and then do this and do that. But no, I didn't deal with the other stuff. Wasn't, that wasn't the journey.

L: Yeah.

C: You know? Yeah. That wasn’t the journey, it was just let's get back to what needs to get done.

L: Sounds like you picked the journey up, and it was waiting for you when you were ready.

C: Which I think is now in some ways, like there's another piece to that. So I like the, I love the image of the Lotus because I feel like that's been my life the last 15 years. Like just, just blooming up through the mud. But even seeing the beauty in the mud. Right. And at that time I wouldn't have thought about it that way. So now it's like coming back full circle to that part of Celia. It's like, wow, I did not know that she got left behind or that it was even important to see that this other part of me got left behind. So when you asked me to do this podcast it’s so interesting, Laura, because I was like, I don't even want to visit that.”

L: Yeah.

C: I don't know that I even want to talk about that.

L: Mmhmm.

C: What's there to talk about because I, you know, I haven't thought about that. Well, it's really important to think about that because now I see the synthesis in what I've been thinking about these past few days, few weeks actually. I've been thinking a lot about mortality a lot now.

L: Mmmm.

C: I've been thinking a lot about grief and loss and the fragility of what we call life. And I've had a lot of loss in my life and my family and how to define loss and who gets to do that. I get to do that. And we so often, you know, we are conditioned to….We are constructed to live by how society defines these things, right? So I can't call that grief. I can't call that loss. Lots of people have car accidents and some people don't survive from car accidents.

L: Mmm, yeah.

C: So how dare I even go there, but if I thought about it for a moment, if that truck had hit me even harder, who knows how devastating? I don't think I wanted to even think about that.

L: Yeah. And probably weren't ready to go there.

C: No.I'm having a whole new level of awareness and respect. Respect. First of all, for all those things you remembered and how pertinent that is to my present moment journey of thinking about grief and loss and like thinking about the power of claiming what you want in the now.

L: Mmmm.

C: That's what that brings to mind. Just reminding me of my asking for my journal and that moment

L: Mmhmm.

C: That was a request of the now.

L: You were in the moment and this is actually one of my favorite things about being disoriented by stuff happening to the body is like, okay, sometimes the only thing we have to grab onto is our own spirit.

C:  Yes, and that's true. That's gorgeous.

L: It's messy. It's scary.

C: It is.

L: But sometimes we can touch that part of us that is our highest self in the midst of all the chaos.

C: Mmm.

L: That says now do this.

C: Mmm, mmhmm. If we get still enough to listen. I think that that's really important, too. Mmmm. Feels good, just to take a breath sometimes.

L: Yeah. Yup. Well, this is a magical conversation.


C: It is. I feel the butterflies, they’re out. They’re roaming. Yes. Let's come out of that cocoon. Alright.


L: What does it mean to you to have a fulfilling life and has that changed or been impacted by your health?

C: Wow, that's a. that's a profound question. I might have to break it up a little bit. The first part, the word that comes to mind is community. So what the question is, what does it mean?

L: To you.

C: Yeah. To me have a fulfilling life. I have a full….just to have community around me, really important and I can say a lot about that, but I think just community, a sense of groundedness through my community in a sense of reflection through my community. It's just so important to me. I think I would say that is everything, everything.

L: Mmmm.

C: So any other in any, any other thing I could say would be connected to community.

L: Yeah.

C: That will just come right back to that because that's everything.

L: I like that.

C: Love, laughter, peace. Yeah. It's all in my community and self is in my community because they are a reflection of who I am.

L: Yes. Absolutely. And so has your definition of fulfillment change throughout the course of your health journey?

C: Oh, sure. Hmmm. It's pretty. It's pretty broad in some ways, but the fulfillment peace I think comes through just this mindfulness about how growth important to me. So, you know, in my practice of journaling in my practice of meditation, in my practice of having, uhm, community circles, those are all pieces of fulfillment for me.

L: Hmmm.

C: So any places where I grow up with a parent.  I'm, I'm a life student, I always love learning and my fulfillment and my success if you will, comes through this ongoing quest to remember that I'm worthy to remember that through my community, through my growth, through my ability to attract all of these beautiful things that, that unfold in my life...the lowest, that's fulfilling for me when I grow, that's fulfilling. When those light bulb moments happen. Those are fulfilling for me. Watching my son, uhm, expand and grow, that's fulfilling for me. Learning new things, that's fulfilling for me. Having this unexpected, beautiful, evolving dialogue with you has been incredibly fulfilled, fulfilling.

L: Mmmm.

C: So that makes me think of the unexpected and surprise can also can be incredibly fulfilling.

L: Yeah. Yeah.

C: Yeah, so.

L: I love that.

L: And would you say any of your health stuff has it, has had an impact directly on the fulfillment definition?

C: Well, yeah, in the sense that I'm thinking more about in my gratitude practice I have and still often do until I remember to thank my legs, to thank my feet, to thank my arm. That's why the breath piece is so important.

L: Mmm.

C: When I meditate now I make sure I start with my feet and move all the way up and then move all the way back down like an elevator so that I am thanking the oxygen moving through my body, keeping every part of my system moving because so often we go into fight or flight mode and so in those quiet moments, like that's everything to me. Uhm, so that piece of fulfillment, it's just realizing that hey, my legs can move. Like sometimes when I'm taking a walk I'll be like, yeah, I can walk.

L: Yeah.

C: I have a sister who is in a wheelchair. I had a sister who before she passed away, she had her voice taken, her throat voice box taken out. I think about that a lot. And so one of the things I do very conscientiously try to remember his breath. Yeah. And not taking for granted that I can actually, my voice and my modulation comes to, in this conversation with you because my body is in concert to allow that to happen, you know? So even when I'm shaking, even when I'm not in control, my body  is still working, you know?

L: Ooh.

C: My body is still working.

L: Isn't it a miracle that we're here, that we have bodies that were alive, that our spirits can work through these bodies, these imperfect?

C: Mmhmm, Yes.

L: Messy, hilarious bodies of ours.

C: Absolutely. Yes, yes.


C: And it's a miracle that we're here having this conversation. This full circle moment conversation. I have to thank you for bringing that back to me like this needed to happen.

L: Yes. I didn't even realize how this would evolve.

C: Goodness. Oh my goodness. I'm just having a Hallelujah moment and a whaaaaaat just happened moment as I'm in the moment. I'm out of body in my body and a body and your body.

L: Out of body, in your body.


C: It's amazing.

L: My hope for myself is that at least once a week, ideally once a day, I want to be like, I can't even believe this life. I can't even believe this is my life. And I do have those moments because I need to open my heart to them.

C: I love that. I love that.

L: So it's like an intention and you'll find me saying to myself or my friends often I'll say “This is the best day of my life.” and it's funny because it's like, how many times are you going to say that Lauren? But in reality it's the only day.

C: Yeah.

L: You know, so when I really let myself feel that, that wonder, which is what I'm sitting across from me seeing, just wonder.

C: Mmhmm.

L: That's part of us doing the dance with life, you know, we're showing up lifestyle and you want to dance or like, yes, you showed up for this interview, you're like, I don't really feel like talking about this. And yet you flowed with the conversation, you said yes. And now you're sitting in like, oh wow. Look at what happened.

C: Mmhmm.

L: My energy's like shimmering right now. I don't know how else to describe it. It's like this glittery awe.

C: I said, yes.

L: You said yes.

C: Yes. That's a beautiful reminder to.

L: Yeah. So the second question is, do you have any funny moment or story that you can share about your relationship with your body or the medical journey or anything?

C: I don’t know if you want me to share that.

L: People say that so much.


C: My son could tell you all about that.


C: Mmmm, mmm.  Oh, you might have to do some serious editing here. Yes. My body loves to make noises.

L: Uh-huh.

C: To let me know it is releasing. A lot. So I often get confab, flabby, conflab...conflabulated. What's the word? Flatulate. Flatuled.


C: Yes. My body just loves to release. Let’s leave it at that.

L: Has it ever happened in a moment that feels story worthy?

C: In a yoga class.

L: Oh really?

C: Yes.

L: That's when you really just try to be peaceful.

C: Yes, and the yoga teacher just went with it. Yes. This happened. Just breathe.

L: Yes.

C: And once in a doctor's office. Ooh, uh-uh. I did not like that.

L: Yeah.

C: It was embarrassing. They were out of the room, but listen, the body had to. The body had to release.

L: Yes.


C: And when they came in the room I was like “Look, I need to let you know right now in case you don't notice right away. That there was a situation and they were like, “Oh, it's okay.”

L: Oh. *Laughs*

C: Now. I'm wondering what the bubble over their head is really saying.

L: They’re being so polite.

C: Yes. Do you really want to put your hand over your nose right now because that's seriously what I would be doing, but okay.  Yeah, like, my son will say “Mom, really, really?” And I'll say “Yes, son. Really.”

L: Yes, we have miraculous bodies that allow us to be here on this earth.

C: Woooh.

L: And there's all kinds of things they do.

C: They do all kinds of things they do. This one has been doing that all my life for some reason.

L: That's just one of the blessings of this body.

C: Yes! Because my family will even say to this day, you know, my sister will go, “Oh, all our lives, Celia. Really, you're still doing that?” Like, just letting y'all know I’m here. I'm well.

L: Yes, here I am.

C: So yes, my body does make happy sounds.

L: That’s right. What do you have now that you might not have had without this health, body journey?

C: Clarity, awareness, gratitude, consciousness.

L: You have those things now.

C: I do much more than I did before. Uhm, and appreciation for my able bodied-ness as much or more than most people, you know. So I think our conversation today reminded me that when I start having those back pains to go into the pain, when I started having those anxieties go into the anxiety, what's going on, talk to me what you know, what can we do to bring you back? And I don't think I….today was a reminder to me to be more connected in my body, more present in my body. In a conscientious, in a gratitude, in a awareness, in a clarity kind of way.

L: Mmmm.

C: You know, I don't. I don't really do that. I think I think about my body, right? Because it's changing. I'm getting older, but I don't really sit in the change. Which goes back to what we were originally talking about. I don't have time for that.


C: So again, there's these external sort of practices where I'm recognizing that I really need to pull that deeper in and see what the growth piece really has to show me.

L: Mmmm.

C: I don't think I've done that. I've done it in other ways with other things. But now when my body and I talk about that all the time, I talk about my body all the time.

L: Yeah.

C: But I talk about my body. I'm not in my body dialoguing in my body.

L: It's like talking about my body versus feeling about my body.

C: Absolutely. I'm not feeling in my body.

L: Mmmm.

C: I'm not. Yeah. I think that's so important. So important. And I know this.

L: Yeah, but you know what? I do think little goals like once a day or once a week or once a month, if I can have that moment of grace where I remember, that’s amazing.

C: I think that “I love my body” would be a big one for me, to be in that everyday. I love my body.

L: Mmmm.

C: I love it that it can walk. I love it. That it can do this, do that. I don't really do that. Uhm, yeah, I don't. Probably the only time I do, and I'm not saying I love my body when I'm doing it, but I dance as a way to be in celebration of my body. But it's the act. It's the, it's the act of it. It's not the ritual, the inner ritual of it, like be in libation with my body.

L: Ooh.

C: Yeah. Like I want to do that. That's what this conversation has, is, has, uhm, brought to the forefront for me.

L: Right.

C: Like really be….like connect that breath to a dialogue that's in my body.

L: Oh, I love that. I have a feeling that some of the listeners are going to see this as an invitation as well.

C: Oh, I hope.

L: Thank you for sharing it.

C: Thank you for asking me.

L: I have one last piece. It's not a question. It's a fill in the blank. Finish this sentence.]: “This is not what I ordered….”

C: Stress. Uhm... aging body, not liking my body.

L: Mmmhmm.

C: Not liking the changes, the aches and the pains that...I did not order that.

L: Yes.

C: This is not what I ordered, but I wouldn't change anything about it.

L: That's a bold one.

C: I wouldn't know what I know now if I tried to change it, you know, I wouldn't be who I am if I tried to change it and that's not what I ordered, but it's full of surprises.


C: It is full of surprises.

L: Oh yes. It is. This is, this has been a surprise. This conversation.

C: Oh, that's what I mean.

L: Yes.

C: This is not what I ordered at all.

L: That’s true, this conversation is not what you ordered.

C: No.

L: And how cool that, um, you know, it's like sometimes what we didn't order is, is uhm…

C: Exactly what we need.

L:  Yeah.

C: Oh, you didn't ask me to fill in that blank, but listen.


C: The spirit spoke, so...

L: You can’t hold back when that happens.

C: No. Just like whoop, came right out of my mouth.

L: Well, Celia. Thank you.

C: Thank you. This was fun.

Lauren Selfridge