You must be willing to listen to your own inner wisdom and not follow the voices that don’t know any better about your healing than you do.
The world seems to be reeling from one crisis to another. We’ve experienced a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, political and social turmoil. Then there are personal traumas that people are dealing with, such as the loss of a loved one, health issues, unemployment, divorce or the loss of a job.
Coping with change can be traumatic as it often affects every part of our lives.
How do you deal with loss or change in your life? What coping strategies can you use? Do you ignore them and just push through, or do you use specific techniques?
In this series called “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change” we are interviewing successful people who were able to heal after a difficult life change such as the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or other personal hardships. We are also talking to Wellness experts, Therapists, and Mental Health Professionals who can share lessons from their experience and research.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily A. Francis.
Emily A. Francis is a highly sought-after speaker, bestselling author, and wellness expert with an array of education and experience spanning over 20 years. Her knowledge of the body as well as the body/mind connection is extensive and her commitment to total body, mind, and spirit wellness is her driving force. She believes in a whole body, proactive approach to wellness where balance is the key, and kindness paves the way. Emily is the host of the internet radio show All About Healing on Healthy Life Radio.
She has a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and Wellness, BS & Masters in Physical Education/Human Performance Concentration. Emily graduated from the Atlanta School of Massage in clinical and neuromuscular massage therapy and went on to specialize through the Dr. Vodder School North America for a MLD/CDT in manual lymphatic drainage and combined de-congestive therapy, working specifically with lymphedema.
Emily holds a Gold Medal in the US Open in Tai Chi Forms, is a Usui & Karuna Ki Reiki master level practitioner, and has over 300 hours of yoga teacher training. https://www.emilyafrancisbooks.com
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up with an incredibly loving family, especially from my father. I was a Daddy’s girl through and through. I began gymnastics at a young age and my Dad was at every practice and every meet. I went to an open gym every Saturday mornings to get more practice on top of the regular week of practices. My Dad liked to go with me and give me pointers. He built a bar in the back yard for me to practice on and I had a big trampoline and a small one to mount and dismount from like a vault. He loved gymnastics almost as much as I did.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life? When I was younger I had a poster on my wall of Nadia Commenecis that said “Don’t Pray For An Easy Life. Pray to be A Strong Person.” As I got older, my favorite quote came from my Native American Peace Elder: “The Universe Will Rearrange Itself To Accommodate Your Perception of Reality”~Tom Blue Wolf
You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- The thing that sets me apart from most people that I know is that I do not give up on my dreams. No matter how many years, and how many NO’s I hear, I keep pushing forward. I became a published author after countless NO’s from publishers and agents. Years of pushing and self publishing trying to break into the business. Now, five professionally published books later and a kick ass agent and I do feel that my hard work continues to pay off.
- I don’t change my mind about my goals and dreams. If I were not so deeply set on my goals and intentions, I never would have created the success that I’ve had with writing and sharing my passion for healing.
- I am deeply curious about every aspect of the body and how it works. All of my writings are around body healing based on my studies of anatomy, physiology, energy, muscles and everything that our body’s can do. I have a BS in Exercise Science and Wellness and a Masters of Human Performance. In between those years, I went to clinical and neuromuscular massage therapy school followed by an extremely specialized training for lymphedema- a chronic swelling condition most notably following cancer treatment. I think the body is amazing and that healing is always an option. I am fully committed and passionate to help people find their way through the jungle of setbacks in recovery of every kind.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Healing after Loss’. Do you feel comfortable sharing with our readers about your dramatic loss or life change?
Of course. I was 13 years old. I spent the night at one of my gymnastics teammates that Friday night and we went to our Saturday open gym together. My dad had a tennis match that conflicted with the time and he wouldn’t be able to join us that day. He kissed me goodbye that Friday night before I left to go to my friends house and told me he would see me after tennis. I never saw him again. He had a massive heart attack on the tennis courts and died. I never saw the body. I never had proof. My mom kept me so shielded from it all. There was a memorial service but no casket. She had him buried far away in another state because she knew if she kept him local, she would never get me out of the cemetery. I didn’t even get to visit his grave until I was old enough to drive there myself. I was given two weeks to grieve and then she closed the box. We were not to talk about him again. No questions, no discussions. No reminders and no reminiscing. He was just gone. And I was left totally alone in my pain. No therapy, no counseling. He died two months to the day after his own father died. I was convinced my death day would come two months to the day following. I stayed on a countdown. When the time came and went, I felt so lost. I didn’t know anything about the heart and used to think my heart would either stop because the beats were so slow that I would wake up in the middle of the night to “restart my heart” by doing push ups and running up and down the stairs so I could go back to sleep and not die. My other thought was that it would explode every time my heart rate was high. I had no idea how to handle any of it. I soon quit gymnastics and went to cheerleading. I even cheered in college. I turned to alcohol and self medicated with the best of them. One night I had a panic attack and had my roommate drive me to the hospital. I was convinced I was dying of a heart attack and called my mom to tell her goodbye. This began a vicious cycle of panic and pain followed by deep self medication with drinking. That went on until I was 25 when I took a year off from drinking cold turkey. I knew if I didn’t, I would never be able to get it under control. The pain, the anguish, the deep rooted grief came flying up and out and I could not function. I quit my job, moved back home with my mother and became afraid of everything. Bordering on agoraphobia my anxiety and panic took me over. I had absolutely nothing left and so I began deep therapy of all kinds. Western allopathic, Eastern of many traditions and Shamans for Soul Retrieval. When they did the soul retrieval knowing nothing about me (you are not allowed to share anything before the work) she brought back a soul piece of me that was 13 lying in a coffin and said “leave me alone, I’m with my dad.” What people don’t tell you about soul recovery is that it isn’t the glorious recovery I read about in books. People’s testimonies read that they had felt broken and now were whole with those pieces returned. For me, it was the opposite. You are putting in deeply grief stricken and traumatized pieces of your soul back inside your body. I became totally out of control after that. I had no handle on my own life or healing. I could barely function. And so I began again, at the very beginning as if it had all just happened. I began EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing), medication (that saved my life) and various other treatments. Once I finally caved and tried medication after seven years of trying to fight it alone, it gave me something I thought had died a long time before. I never took more than a child’s dose, but it helped my mind to remember how to live in a balanced and healthy way. While I didn’t have to take it for life, I did take it long enough to retrain my brain and give me a hold that I could use to bring myself all the way back. It made all the therapies work. I was so opposed to medication and yet, it was the final piece that brought me back to myself. During all of this, I continued to study the body and how it works. It also made me understand that healing is entirely possible, but you must heal every aspect of the body; physical, emotional, energetic and spiritual in order to make lasting change.
What was the scariest part of that event? What did you think was the worst thing that could happen to you?
The scariest part of it all was that I would never recover from the grief. The scariest part was that his fate would be mine.
How did you react in the short term?
In the short term, I checked out of life. I went numb.
After the dust settled, what coping mechanisms did you use?
Once I became an adult, I did talk therapy, EMDR therapy, Shamans, Sweat Lodges and Fire Walks, Reiki, acupuncture and herbs, yoga, taiji, meditation, and so much more.
Can you share with us how you were eventually able to heal and “let go” of the negative aspects of that event?
Honestly after all the healing work that I did, it was the child’s dose of anti anxiety medication that finally balanced the chemicals of my brain. The thing I learned is that the mind is where the thoughts and behaviors live. It is where all the therapies are applied. But the brain is an organ and the chemicals must be in balance in order for all the therapies to be able to register and take hold.
Aside from letting go, what did you do to create an internal, emotional shift to feel better?
Once I had the insight and remembrance of how my body works when it is balanced, I did everything I could to be able to work with that and maintain that sense of calm and balance. I became highly aware whenever I would get off balance and quickly worked to bring it back to the center line. I learned how to dialogue deeply into my body and work with it instead of against it for my health and healing.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to cope and heal? Can you share a story about that?
I reached out to an author Thom Rhutledge, author of Embracing Fear. He is a Psychotherapist. I was reading his book and I reached out to him about how I had failed miserably in healing through spiritual intentional practices. He was the one who explained the difference between the mind and the brain and told me that if it was my heart, or liver or kidneys that I wouldn’t hesitate to try medication if it would balance that organ. I had never thought of it that way before. I was so against any type of medication. It felt so horribly against my holistic lifestyle, I felt like I would be a failure if I went there. Removing the judgement and understanding that in some cases it is necessary to help you recover. I am not advocating medication, but Thom really helped me understand that I was at a level where it was needed.
Were you able to eventually reframe the consequences and turn it into a positive situation? Can you explain how you did that?
I came to understand the memory systems of the body in a way that had never been explained to me before. I then learned to work within that frame to heal myself and my life. I also took that information and turned them into my books and my life’s work.
What did you learn about yourself from this very difficult experience? Can you please explain with a story or example?
I learned that I don’t have to be a scientist to discover something relevant and important in our body’s. I learned that I have just as much of a shot at a really great life as anyone else does. I gained confidence and self love that turned my whole life around. After that, I found love and created a life for myself that I never knew was possible.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experiences and knowledge, what advice would you give others to help them get through a difficult life challenge? What are your “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change? Please share a story or example for each.
1) You must be willing to listen to your own inner wisdom and not follow the voices that don’t know any better about your healing than you do.
2) What it takes to heal any aspect of your life requires a full body approach without judgement and without reservation.
3) No one has any right to tell you how to grieve or for how long.
4) Healing on a magnificent scale is entirely possible and miracles exist everywhere. You are allowed to claim yours.
5) Life is so much more magical when you open yourself up to the incredible possibilities that everything and anything is truly possible.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
To bring hope to our collective healing. To remind everyone that they are their own master healers and that all things are possible in this world and you are allowed to be happy and free.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂
Brene Brown would be my top choice. I would love so much to study her shame research along with my body research and bring the world of somatic emotions and muscle memories to life in a very deep and real way in healing. I think we could light the world on fire in body healing and awareness that could lead to great amounts of internal releasing of pain patterns.
How can our readers further follow your work online?