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Friday, August 7, 2015

Summer Newsletter

Greetings clients, colleagues, and community members!

In this newsletter you will find information about a seasonal women's group I am offering, new massage therapy offerings, and an upcoming cleanse!!!    

Self-Care Sundays:  12-week women's group for increased vitality
If you know any women who may be interested in Self-care Sundays, please feel free to forward this message on! 

Are you a woman feeling like you need time to connect with yourself in new ways?  Are you struggling to understand the messages from your body?  Do you or anyone you know struggle with your monthly cycle?  Do you have endometriosis, uterine fibroids, heavy bleeding, intense cramping, or are dealing with a general loss of vitality and depletion?

Meeting for 6 alternating Sundays at a comfortable home in Richmond we will go through the Steps for Vibrant Health as put forth in Dr. Christiane Northrup's book, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom.  We will share a nutritious, wholesome meal together in mindful silence, and each woman will be given the opportunity to retreat into solace for alone time, and to be seen and witnessed within the group in a conscientious sharing circle.  Uncover your personal health story to understand your body's wisdom more clearly, look into your personal beliefs around value, worth, and contribution.  Do it with other women who are committed to personal growth and taking charge of their health in an empowered way!  

In 12-weeks we will have a much better understanding of our bodies, a fuller connection to our inner guidance, and a plan of action in place to reclaim our natural vitality.

For anyone who is interested in this group I am offering the first meet up at no obligation so you can come, meet me, and feel into whether this is going to be a good fit for your needs.

Cost:  $250 up front.  Installment, sliding-scale available;

Where:  East Richmond Heights, 94805   When:  10am - 1pm every alternating Sunday beginning Sept. 13 - Nov. 22

To register:  contact me directly at for a consultation.  You may pay with a personal check, cash, or via Paypal.   

Massage Therapy:  El Cerrito, Oakland, corporate, and in-home offerings

I have been working at the Ojas Wellness Center at the El Cerrito Plaza for a year and a half!  THANK YOU so much to Nicole Becker from Ojas Yoga Studio who invited me into her studio.  It is an honor to work with such a wonderful teacher.   Check out the studio if you haven't been there yet!   

FYI:  My office is down the hallway quite a ways from the yoga studio, towards the Joanne's Fabric's end of the building:   Ojas Wellness Center, Office # 729.  

Series Packages 
These are my top-sellers right now.  Get a discount by purchasing a 4-pack series of 30-min, 60-min or 90-min sessions.  It's a nice way to commit to your on-going self-care, while reaping a savings at the same time!  

Wednesday afternoons, Oakland
I have started seeing clients in Oakland on Wednesday afternoons over on Grand Avenue near the lake.  If you are interested to set up a session with me over there my normal rates apply.

Corporate Massage
Back in 1996 when I very first began working as a massage therapist, I started out in the corporate sector, working for,, and eventually Google!  

I am interested to get back into that setting.  Ideally an employer will see the value of bringing in a massage therapist regularly and will subsidize it for their employees.  After all, massage therapy helps to avoid repetitive stress injuries, helps with migraines and headaches, keeps people feeling energized and appreciated, and can go a long way towards increased productivity and the not-so-proverbial, "bottom line" of any company.

If you know of any companies who would like to bring in a seasoned massage therapist for regular employee appreciation, please do let me know!

My new passion:  Scar-tissue
Over the past couple of years I have really gotten interested in working with scar-tissue. If you know anyone who has had a recent or not-so-recent surgery and still has tightness around their scar, or even tenderness if it's a recent scar, I have begun to see wonderful results with this.  

For a very recent injury which is tender and fragile, this is my favorite time to work with clients because the subtle energy work helps the tissue to relax and breathe better!  A very, very delicate touch is applied which is almost like a feather, and I can almost watch as the area relaxes.  This allows for a speedier recovery and over time I've been privileged to work with a couple of clients to see their scars become more supple and soft.  

Maybe I can help you with yours!   Call me and we can talk about it.

In-home Massage
As always, I love bringing my table to a client's home to set up a spa day for them and/or their family members.    I offer one-hour, 90-minute, and two-hour in-home massages for up to 3 people at a time.  There is a travel fee attached to all out-call massage sessions.


Ojas Wellness Center - Thursdays 2:30-9pm; Saturdays 2:30-7pm
In-home massage - Saturdays 11-2; Sundays 11-4; Wednesday 5-8
Oakland massage - Wednesdays 2-7pm


Please note I will be increasing my rates in the fall

30-min:  $40
60-min:  $85
90-min:  $125
2-hr:  $160

To schedule:  

Snap the Habit

In the fall my colleague Mayah Hegre and I are getting excited to offer a 21-day cleanse incorporating EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).   We have offered this cleanse as a 5-day cleanse in the past, but are looking forward to providing more support to help people truly break their addictions to carbs and sugars!!!  Stay tuned for more information.

Jupiter Wellness

I am currently developing a new website!!!!  So excited.  It will have on-line scheduling and more information about my women's groups, my cleanse, my massage therapy work and more.  I am hoping to release this in the fall so stay tuned!

In summary, thank you for allowing me to be a part of your self-care strategy.  It is my honor and privilege, and I look forward to serving you throughout the rest of 2015 and beyond.....

Warm regards,


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Massage Therapy: Making Contact

On Thursday I did a brief presentation about my work as a massage therapist for my colleagues in my networking group.  I was so nervous for some reason!  But folks seemed to like it so I thought I would share it with you all here:

We are spinning in space inside an atmosphere of gravitational force.

Our bodies, just like a tree, are perfectly designed to operate gracefully inside gravity.  But learned behaviors, unconscious habits, injury, family legacy -- all these things play into what you might call "holding patterns".

My job, as a Massage Therapist, is to make contact with these holding patterns, to raise awareness of these areas within the system of my client, to awaken circulation through stuck places within the body.

For me, discussing the many different layers of embodiment is a complex, multi-dimensional exploration.

There is the *cosmic* reality:  gravity.  Indeed, gravity and postural imbalance are I believe the two biggest factors leading to pain within the body.

Then there is the *energetic* reality:  The magnetic field around every living being, creating, if you will, an individual atmosphere.

Then there is the *physical* reality:  blood, bone, nerve, muscle, organ, connective tissue, and breath, among many other things.

Then, the *historical* reality:  did this person have an easy birth into this world?   Have they broken any limbs?  Have they torn any ligaments?  Have they been cut or bruised and have they had any stitches?

And finally there is the *spiritual* dimension:  what gives meaning to a person's life?  What fulfills them?  What makes them super sad?  Have they been loved?  Cared for?  Have they created what they came here to create?

All these stories live within our bodies.

In my work, I always start and end my sessions the same way:  I ask my client to take a nice, deep, cleansing breath, and I do so as well.  Then we take another.  During this time I am bringing my mind into alignment with unconditional regard -- the foundation of my work.  For me, unconditional regard is bringing myself into a neutral state of mind, a place of acceptance, compassion, and respectful witness.

I bring my hands a few inches above my client's back, and I bring my awareness to my breath, I align my posture, I feel the ground beneath my feet and I enter into my client's personal atmosphere, making contact with the surface, yes….but with an awareness of that gravitational field, the physical pressure which actually holds all of us on planet earth.

And then, all the connections start getting made, how the hips hold up the ribs with a spine running right through to the brain, a bowling ball on a flexible stick.  We're bi-pedal so everything criss-crosses, left knee, right nip, left shoulder, right neck, left jaw……

The mind kinda starts to dissolve, the right now makes a much longer pause, muscles letting go of all their holding, moments hold together by an organic human being, in a body, from a body, of a body, and breathing…..

Awaken to the now with massage therapy!

After nearly 20 years in this profession I can say that I am still endlessly fascinated, excited by, and inspired by the possibilities of healing in the human body.

Clinical deep tissue has taught me practical functional knowledge that I can apply to athletes and weekend warriors.

Reiki and energy work has taught me how the subtler planes often hold deep release within the tissue.

Injury and surgery have taught me how it feels when pain shoots through the body, bringing compassion and empathy, as well as a felt sense of how soft tissue manipulation can speed healing.

A great referral for me is someone looking to commit to their self-care and personal growth through massage therapy.

I now offer 50% all my treatments for anyone dealing with chemotherapy or cancer.

I am selling a lot of series packages these days, and through the month of March am offering one 25-min add-on to a 60- or 90-minute 4-pack.

My office is located at 729 El Cerrito Plaza, and my office hours are Thursdays and Saturdays, 2:30-9pm.  I am available for corporate gigs and out-call/in-home sessions on other days.

Do your body/mind a favor:  book a session today!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Snap the Habit: let's go!!

Are you one of the millions of people around the world who have resolved to "eat better" in 2015?

According to a Diabetes Statistic Report published in June of 2014, over 29 million people have diabetes, which is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. 

If you're anything like me, you have pretty good habits, *most of the time*.  But then........something will happen in your life, and you may fall into a binging habit, or what is known as, "emotional eating".

It is a very common way to cope with the ups and downs of life, but the consequences can be fatal, as the above statistics demonstrate.

With "Snap the Habit" my colleague Mayah Hegre and I are offering a power-packed solution to this cycle, offering personal coaching, a 5-day supply of foods which are proven to break the craving for carbs and sugars, plus 3 group coaching calls with one of the world's leading teachers of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).

The Cleanse

The 5-day cleanse is safe for diabetics, and provides a sustained energy with a 'no-deprivation' model throughout the 5 days. This cleanse is meant to create a long-term platform for eating, to support folks in creating lasting lifestyle changes, and to reduce the chances of developing diabetes and other degenerative conditions to begin with. (see below for a link to a video for more information on the Reset cleanse)

The Emotional Freedom Technique

EFT (also known as "the tapping method"), works with the Traditional Chinese Medicine meridian points to help rewire and reset our minds around any particular human issue. For Snap the Habit, we are training its powerful attention on our relationship to food and eating. (see link below for more information on EFT)

Snap the Habit includes:

* The Reset Kit (5-day supply of shakes, bars, and vitamins)
* 3 group coaching calls with EFT
* 2 one-on-one coaching calls (before and after the cleanse)
* recipes and meal-planning ideas
* 50% off massage therapy and EFT sessions

Total cost: $175 (give or take for shipping/tax)

Registration deadline: January 9
Course dates: January 19 - 23

To learn more about Reset:

Learn more about EFT here:

About the Snap the Habit course leaders:

Jennifer Benorden, B.A., has been working in the field of "wellness" for nearly 20 years. She is a licensed massage therapist, women's group facilitator, wellness coach, and Shamanic practitioner. She works with clients in her office at the Ojas Wellness Center in El Cerrito and in the surrounding area. She strongly believes in the power of witness and group support to speed healing.;

Mayah Hegre, B.A.,Licensed Massage Therapist 17 years, Certified Holistic Health Coach 12 years, and Certified Adv. Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner 8 years. She brings the wisdom from her own healing journey and experience from working with many people from all over the world. Mayah is a compassionate person here to support your transformation, empowerment, and growth. She provides individual and group coaching.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Breath, Justice, PTSD, and Wellness


It is the most fundamental necessity to sustain life.

Without breath flowing in and out of our lungs continuously, we die.

As a massage therapist, breath is one of the most basic ways I begin to attune myself with my clients.  When I see that they are holding their breath, I may coach them to take a nice big gulp of fresh air.

By the same token, when I see that my client is taking a nice deep breath on his or her own, it lets me know that they are taking it in, that they are letting it out, and that they are there with me, experiencing the work.

As for myself, I notice that I am nearly constantly holding my breath, both in and outside of the massage room.

For me to take a full diaphragmatic breath without effort is very rare.

I have been deepening my meditation practice and asking for insights into what is causing this phenomenon, but I have a sneaking suspicion I know what it is:


As a sensitive person, an empath, and a "healer", I most definitely notice that certain events whether personal or more collective will have an impact on my energy field, my spirit, my psyche, as well as in my breath.

Having spent my formative years in a violent household, I know that my system may never recover a fully neutral neurological state.   And for that reason, events outside of my personal realm may have a more acute impact on my system than they do on others.

All this to say, I believe that we here in the United States of America, we citizens who populate this land, who share a common history, whose roots were uprooted and re-rooted here, we who call this land home, we who are known globally simply as, "Americans", I believe we are all suffering a form of PTSD.

As a nation, we are currently more known for the violence within our police departments and the recently released Torture Report than we are for any other actions done in the name of "Democracy". 

If you pay attention even just a little bit, you will have heard the names Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, you will have heard of Mike Brown, of Eric Garner.  You will have heard of Newtown, of Columbine, of Andy Lopez.

You will have heard of Monsanto, of Chevron, of Wounded Knee.  You will have heard of Martin Luther King, JR., and you will have heard of Exxon Mobile.

Our national story is riddled with bullet holes, environmental destruction, racism, violence, broken treaties, and genocide.

So back to the breath.    Mine, yours, ours.

When you hear of a school shooting, what is the first thing you do?  When anything remotely shocking happens, what is that we do?

We take a deep, sharp inhalation.  Typically we hold it in for a minute and our eyes might dart around a little bit while our brows are furrowed.

Now granted, this doesn't mean you have PTSD!  It just means you heard something shocking and took a deep breath.  But -- where does it go from there?  How do we process the shock?  How do you?  How do I? 

For myself, the day the courts allowed the cop who killed Eric Garner to walk free, I began to have a pretty hard time breathing.

It came right on the heels of the cop who killed Mike Brown being allowed to walk free as well, with Ferguson still burning, and I felt the walls closing in on my spirit.

How could this be happening?

Eric Garner wasn't doing anything criminal whatsoever.  A cop came up to him, put him in an illegal choke hold, strangled him to death in public, and walked away without even getting a trial.

My community has been out on the streets, blockading traffic, shutting down public transportation, protesting the Department of Justice, chanting and holding signs to let it be known that this was not ok. 

Eric Garner couldn't breathe.

He died telling the world he couldn't breathe and now we are left, breathing, yes, but -- how well?

Today, as the year comes to an end, and the reality of events in your personal life and/or those of our world would ask of you to hold your breath, do yourself, and all of us here in our bodies, a favor, and try to take a nice, deep breath.

The meme, "#icantbreathe" is sweeping social media globally, and it is an apt way to honor the tragedy of Garner's death and the state of our nation. 

How you respond to the racial tensions in our country is up to you.  I know for myself I am actively seeking ways I can be a better white ally.

But, maybe, when you allow the breath to come fully into your body and to release it fully out, just that one act, the most basic fundamental necessity for life, bringing yourself into harmony within your own body, will allow you to be more capable to respond to life's events with more grounding, with more oxygen and grace.  Do it for Eric.  Do it for Trayvon.  Do it for your own children.  Breathe fully so that you can be a fully embodied human being, awake, alive, paying attention, and responding appropriately to the events of your day.

Meditation practice is one of the best ways I know of to not only deepen the breath, but also to just calm the mind.  To bring stillness into a typically very busy freeway of thought is a radical action unto itself! 

I wish a Happy New Year to all and may we bring healing and higher vibrations both for ourselves and all our breath at a time.....

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Life is for living. Bodies are really helpful for that!

When a client walks into my office for massage therapy, I have one main objective, every single time:  to bring them more fully into their body while they are in my care.

They may come in because their spine is out of alignment or they are exhausted from having young children or they have TMJ or they just lost a parent or they are training for a triathlon or they have repetitive stress from being a professional musician or they just had knee replacement surgery or they were rear-ended and are suffering from whiplash or they have a nerve impingement that is inflamed and painful or migraines or plantar fasciatis or frozen shoulder or carpal tunnel.......

So I listen, and I hear, and I tell them my spiel, and I leave the room and ask them to get on the table.  While they are doing so, I wash my hands, and ground myself.

There is a *human being* in the other room, and I am about to touch them!

It's pretty remarkable.

When you think about all the energy that it takes to be a human being, all the years it takes to develop into a mature person, in a functioning (or -- somewhat functioning) body, with a mind that works, lungs that keep the whole thing oxygenated, blood pulsing through all those veins, out to the outer reaches of the fingers and toes...........

Meanwhile there is a story associated with that body -- an identity -- a personality -- a history.  There have been let-downs, there have been injuries, there have been healthy choices and not-so-healthy choices.  There have been celebrations, crushing blows, betrayals, shame, confusion, and -- achievements, joy, bliss......all mixed together.  It's human life, after all!

I genuinely view my work as a huge honor and privilege, for mine is the only profession in which we are given the legal right to touch people therapeutically.   Our professional training involves learning the different systems of the body:  muscular, skeletal, fascial, and to a certain extend the nervous system, and beyond that, there are as many different modalities and techniques as there are stars in the sky.

For me, approaching my client on the table begins by entering their energy field mindfully by taking a couple of nice deep breaths, and asking them to do the same.  In this way, we are beginning to bring ourselves more fully into that very moment, and with any luck in the next hour or so, I am going to be providing not only relief from their particular ailment, but also an honest and more thorough connection within themselves.  It could be called sensate awareness, internal awakenings, 'aha' moments that help them to inform how their lived experience is being expressed on the physical plane.

This is why I call my work, "nurturing deep-tissue", as I bring an energetic component to all of my work whether it's what could be called "clinical", or whether it's what is known as "subtle".

From Olympic athletes, musicians, exhausted parents, or just busy adults on a given day, most of my clients report that my work is unique.  I asked one of my clients to try to explain how so the other day, and she said, "It was more Zen than most massages".  By the depth of her breathing by the end of the massage, I would say that we accomplished more than simply relieving the impingement in her ulnar nerve.....but we also achieved my ultimate goal:  bringing her more fully into her body.

aaaaaaah.  Such a realm we live in!

After 18 years in this profession, I am going strong and thrilled to be learning, growing, and deepening my own felt experience along the way.

Currently I am booking clients in El Cerrito on Thursday afternoons and evenings, occasional in-home sessions, and beginning in October I will be booking on Saturdays in El Cerrito as well.

Stay tuned for my new menu of services!  And contact me directly to schedule a session.  It would be my honor and privilege to work with you.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Snap the Habit

One of the best things I've found about being in a body is the consumption of food.  Right??! mmmmm chocolate............

But if you're anything like me it can be hard to know when to stop sometimes -- even though I know I shouldn't!!!!

While eating food can be one of life's greatest pleasures, it can also be a source of frustration, shame, and personal torment, as we are faced with a plethora of croissants, pizzas, brownies, bagels, pastas, barbecues and candies.   Just knowing what's good for us doesn't seem to be enough for a lot of us who struggle to "eat right".  

For the longest time I felt like I was eating pretty well but couldn't maintain a healthy weight.   I would eat an egg with a piece of toast for breakfast, a salad for lunch, a fruit snack mid-afternoon, and a chicken stir-fry with rice for dinner, and while it sounds good on paper, later that night I  might feel compelled to eat 5 chocolate-chip cookies......

In the morning I would wake up feeling hung-over from all the sugar and discouraged, embarrassed, and not to mention a few pounds heavier.

Many people are like me and eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, try to get organic as much as possible, and eat healthy portions (most of the time....).

But certainly the classic American diet looks something like this:  coffee with bagel or pastry for breakfast, pizza and salad for lunch, candybar mid afternoon, meat and potatoes for dinner (and sometimes dessert after that).

What this standard diet and variations of it does is spike and drop the blood sugar, going from blissed out and 'high' to a feeling of being critically hungry within a couple of hours.  Do you know what I"m talking about?  If I eat something that burns quickly -- such as a bagel or a pastry -- within an hour or two I feel like I'm STARVING.   

Actually, the body really does think it's starving, because the spike in blood sugar causes such a surge that when it drops, it drops hard.   So most people choose to eat something that's going to boost their energy right away --  and end up spiking up that blood sugar yet again.  Then the blood sugar drops and we feel like we're starving, and the cycle never ends.

The tendency to over-eat, binge, or eat foods that taste great but lack nutritional substance can lead to a plethora of health challenges through the development of insulin resistance -- a precursor to many of the world's leading diseases such as heart-disease, diabetes, obesity, stroke, vascular disease,  polycystic ovarian syndrome, fatty liver, and more.

That's why I'm so excited to be offering my new program:  "Snap the Habit" -- a 5-day dietary cleanse which helps to reset the body's glycemic index (check out the video below to learn more about this proven cleanse), combined with an energy psychology tool known as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), which helps to reset our emotional stories in general, and around food and eating specifically for this course (see video below to learn more).

In the last 6 months I've lost a total of about 15 pounds consistently, and I know that doing the AIDS Lifecycle and biking my butt off helped a lot (see earlier post on this blog).  Since doing this cleanse a few times over the past couple of years, I can say that I am a whole lot more consistent now about my eating choices than I used to be.  For me doing this cleanse is not so much about having a skinnier  waist (although -- cool bonus!!), as it is about avoiding serious health problems down the road.  I have a history of heart disease, diabetes and stroke in my family after all.....

It's common knowledge that eating and food choices can be intricately linked with emotional ups and downs.  Who doesn't want "comfort food" after a rough day at work or "a treat" after a long week?  With Snap the Habit, we will be interrupting the craving tendency on a cellular level, effectively making it much easier to make a healthy choice, and giving ourselves a much stronger chance to remain healthy and vibrant throughout our lives!! 

Combining EFT with the 5-day cleanse provides the double whammy effect by addressing the underlying beliefs which drive our food choices, while simultaneously normalizing blood-sugar levels with yummy shakes, bars, vitamins, and coaching to support participants throughout. 

Snap the Habit is an exciting pairing and I'm so excited to be launching it this month!!!

With this course participants will receive:

*  2 one-on-one coaching sessions
*  3 group EFT sessions
*  5-day supply of shakes, bars, and vitamins
*  50% off massage therapy and EFT sessions from course teachers
*  proprietary training videos in EFT from one of the world's leading experts
*  private facebook group for ongoing support to sustain a low-glycemic diet

Total cost:  $175 (includes products + coaching)

Registration Deadline: Friday, December 26

Dates of  Course:  Monday, January 4 - Friday, January 8

To register please contact me directly at to schedule your first coaching session and order your cleanse.

To learn more about the cleanse:

To learn more about the science behind EFT and how it can re-wire our thinking:

Course leaders:

Jennifer Jupiter Benorden, B.A., musician, filmmaker, and licensed massage therapist 18 years, Wellness Consultant 8 years, women's group facilitator 15 years, Shamanic practitioner, 10 years.  She believes strongly in the body's ability to heal, and also in the power of witness and group support to speed healing.;;

Mayah Hegre, B.A.,Licensed Massage Therapist 17 years, Certified Holistic Health Coach 12 years, and Certified Adv. Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner 8 years. She brings the wisdom from her own healing journey and experience from working with many people from all over the world. Mayah is a compassionate person here to support your transformation, empowerment, and growth. She provides individual and group sessions in San Francisco Bay Area. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

My uterus. That bitch! I don't miss her.....

It was 1991 the first time my uterus tried to kill me.  The second time was about 10 years later in 2001 when I had a seizure-like menstrual cramp.....

I had just ridden my bicycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the California AIDS Ride (with my best friend EVER Tonia Lach), and had started my period on the morning of the last day of the 7-day ride.  At that point I was still having pretty regular periods, but usually had a lot of cramping on my first day.

Amazingly, I finished the ride without any cramps (though I did cry my eyeballs out the whole last day because i couldn't believe I rode my bicycle to LA!!!!  hormones? perhaps....).  But that evening when shopping for dinner preparations with my friends I had a really scary cramp.  I felt like someone had just grabbed my womb and squeezed it very hard and it took my breath away.  It only lasted for a second but I went outside and sat down on the sidewalk.   I'm kind of looking around like, 'What the heck is happening??'  It happened one more time while I was sitting there.  My entire uterus clenched down on itself like a very strong jaw, locking  (hmmmm, symbolic?  I know that not speaking one's truth can lead to a lot of different physical ailments.....).

I didn't tell any of my friends that night.  I didn't tell anybody about it and I did not call a doctor - even though I knew that was very abnormal.   But it was also very abnormal for me to ride 560 miles in a single week.  Since I had just completed a full week of very intense physical fitness (because I am a bad-ass athlete!!!!), I just kind of let it go.....

Over the course of the next few years, my monthly cycle became an increasingly prominent player in the scope of my life.  I had been told I had fibroids in 1991, when I had an ectopic pregnancy that nearly killed me.  The doctor said I was very lucky to be alive and good luck and oh yeah - you have fibroids on your uterus but they are very common and not to worry about them.

"What are they?", I naturally asked.

"Benign growths", he said. " One in three women have them.  Shouldn't be a problem.  Just keep an eye on them."

It would have been so nice if the doctor at that time had told me that while one in three women will develop fibroids, some of them will also have extreme complications as a result.

I was definitely one of them.  I remember one cramp in particular that came over me while I was walking down the hallway to the bathroom.  It crippled me to the floor.

Where do uterine fibroids come from?  Why have they become so prevalent?  We know that they are caused by excess estrogen -- but a lot of research (and my instincts) tells me environmental toxins in our air, water, food, and body products are at least partly to blame.  One in three women have fibroids which can lead to sterility.  In my thinking, that is epidemic proportions of something that could result in human extinction!! (Maybe that's why we always see these apocalyptic films foretelling the end of times....).

One doctor I was seeing almost demanded that I have a hysterectomy.  She was concerned I might become anemic (which I eventually did.....), and she was concerned I might develop cancer (which is VERY rare when it comes to fibroids).  But even though I didn't really think I wanted children (since my first child sorta tried to kill me.....), I wanted to save my uterus and avoid what I felt was an over-used procedure for something that could be healed naturally.  It didn't help that she was cold and pushy and didn't seem interested in me as a person. 

In all the reading I was doing (Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, by Dr. Christiane Northrup, and A Path of Practice, by Bri Maya Tiwari, were my favorites) I learned that there were so many ways to heal naturally from fibroids.  I delved into all of them by changing my diet, by pursuing my passions,  drinking certain teas and doing hot compresses and acupuncture and eliminating coffee and caffeine altogether and changing my body-care products and by doing certain yoga poses and by writing in my journal, having more sex, doing breathing exercises, spending more time in nature, and more.

The things that seemed to make the biggest difference in my experience were:  high-quality (as in, not store-bought) vitamins, regular exercise, learning how not to rush, no caffeine of any kind while bleeding, and doing my best to keep my environment drama and stress-free during my cycle. 

There were months that seemed like I was going to be normal again.  There were times where I would have a pretty easy cycle with no big bleeds and no scary cramps at all!  But by 2011, 10 years after the first scary cramp, I started to have more bleeding, more clots, more intense cramps, and longer cycles.

I was still hoping I could recover my uterus and get back to normal, and began writing a uterus journal.   I would ask my uterus what she needed.  I was attempting to tune in but often times what I found was a blank stare looking back at me.  I was depleted in every sense of the word, and I think by then I was just exhausted trying to build a bridge to a dying island......

In April, 2012 I finally realized the time had come.  I needed to have the surgery.  It had become completely unmanageable, and by May I actually had to have a blood transfusion because I almost passed out from severe anemia. 

I met a surgeon who was young, hip, and an expert in laparascopic hysterectomies.  The first time I went to her office a huge clot passed onto the floor while I was waiting in the exam room.  She came in as I was heading towards the napkins to try to clean it up.  I was completely mortified (shame from bleeding goes deep) but she put me at ease right away if you can believe it, and reassured me that she was the woman for the job.

We scheduled the surgery for 2 months out and I had to have 3 more blood transfusions during this time.  I became very familiar with the nurses at the transfusion clinic, as the procedure took several hours at a time.

A few days before my surgery I gathered my close friends together and invited them to my "fibroid shower".   I decided that I wanted to have a blessingway  like my friends did who were having babies, for the fibroids that I was going to "birth".

The so-called shower was really more of a mindful ceremony.  My mom had flown out to support me after the surgery, and I was so glad she was here.  It made a huge difference for me!  My best friend helped me create the ceremony.  We asked each person to come wearing something that represented their feminine, and to bring a special bead for me.   I read some of the writing I had been doing to and from my uterus, and introduced everyone and how much they meant to me.

Then each person expressed their intentions for me with my surgery, and breathed their intentions into the bead they had brought.  One of my friends strung the beads onto a strand, and I put it inside of a bag to have with me during the surgery.

In reading Dr. Northrup's suggestions to prepare for surgery, I was inspired to ask my surgeon to participate in setting a clear intention for a safe, successful surgery, and she was completely agreeable.  The night before the surgery I wrote out several statements for her to read before she made the first incision, before she started removing the uterus, and after the last stitch was sewn.

Before falling asleep I wrote one last time in my uterus journal and thanked her for all of the lessons she had taught me.  I asked her if she had anything she wanted to tell me or ask of me, and the one thing she wanted was that I share my journey, that I share my lessons, that I teach what I have learned to others.

The morning of my surgery I awoke with an almost ecstatic feeling.  I was ready in every way.  I had the support of my community, I had a very competent surgeon, I had made peace with my uterus, was ready to let her go, felt that she was in agreement with the decision, and was just about as stoked as I could possibly be to put an end to the blood-letting that had (ahem) colored my life for far too long.....

I offer this blog post to honor the request my uterus made of me.  So:  for all who suffer from uterine disorders, for all who live with those who suffer uterine disorders, for all who are attempting to make sense of their monthly cycles, to all who witnessed my extreme bleeding, to all who saw my face getting paler, and paler, and paler as the anemia became more and more advanced, to those who seek natural solutions, to my community who came around me so close when I needed them, to those who may not understand what some women are going through, this is for you.

A couple of months ago I did the AIDS ride for the second time (with my amazing sister and her partner!!!!!! Team Jupter what??? see previous blog post).  It was the perfect full circle.......

Even though I'm revealing a lot of very personal information here, it feels good to share my story.  I want folks to know that they are not alone, and that there are ways to manage their symptoms.  I am so happy to talk with anyone who wants to compare notes on what they have found is working for them, questions they have about different approaches.  I am available to support anyone wanting to prepare for surgery or to discuss some of their options. I believe that if I had incorporated some of the habits I did to heal the fibroids earlier on, they may not have advanced the way they did!

I do not miss my uterus.  I do not miss the bleeding whatsoever (are you kidding me??).  Instead I feel, still, to this day, a huge relief that I parted ways with that organ.  Was she a bitch?  Sort of because she almost killed me.  But it's not her fault, so I forgive her.  She was a real fighter!  May she rest in peace......