On today’s bonus episode I am getting real with you, sharing my story – my physical, emotional, spiritual and financial journey – that has led me to exactly where I am today.
And though it’s been tough, traumatic, and painful at times, I know now that it was all perfect. But, it took me some time to be able to see it that way. I have done deep healing, spiritual work on myself. And I’m not done.
I don’t think we are ever done healing, but I am at the point in my life finally where I am willing to share unapologetically exactly who I am, what I have been through and what I stand for. To stop playing small. To be bold and brave.
I now tell my story everywhere I can. From an Instagram post, to the podcast, to my film, to my book, to speaking on stages across the US and internationally, I am speaking my truth.
The crazy thing about sharing my story is it has led to me living a beautiful, sexy, amazing life that I literally never thought I could have. Opening up about myself has unlocked magic and so by sharing my story with you today I hope it encourages you to share yours as well. You never know who out there needs to heal it.
So you may know I am finishing up my book, Food Heals. Today I wanted to start the podcast by reading you the introduction. This has not been edited yet. This is raw, this is me. It may change before it is published, who knows? But here is my story as of today.
Turning Pain Into Purpose & Trauma Into Triumph
My hair was wild, my feet were muddy and my smile was contagious. I was 10 years old and determined to leave clean and come home dirty (much to my parents’ chagrin.) My pastel pink pants would turn a dark shade of maroon and my Keds would be soaking wet from playing in the creek for hours.
Life was good for this only child who could do no wrong. My parents were madly in love, and never exchanged a cross word.
They had met in the 70’s in Chapel Hill at The University of North Carolina where my mom was in graduate school and my dad, an undergrad. My mom always said it was love at first sight. They got married in a whirlwind romance and had their first child at the dawn of a new decade in December of 1980.
Growing up, the house at Lake Ellen Dr. that my dad had built was THE gathering place for my friends and neighborhood kids. My parents opened their doors and their hearts to anyone who needed them. Our home was situated between a lake and a creek with a freakin’ waterfall connecting them. (Seriously I did not realize how cool that was until I got older!) We would climb the rocks, play tag, climb trees, and run around reckless and free and end up back home exhausted while my parents would whip up something in the kitchen for us to enjoy after a hard day of play.
As I got older there was fishing and boat rides and UNC football games. Sleepovers, pool parties, riding our bikes and counting down the days until we were Sweet 16.
Basically, picture the childhood of Dawson, Pacey and Joey before high school: riding their bikes to the local movie theater to see whatever flick was on Dawson’s must-see list. Sneaking in and out of each others’ windows, hangin’ out on the docks, playing in the neighbors yards, you get the picture. And you know Pacey and Dawson had sleepovers and probably made some prank calls.
Yes, Capeside’s fictional faves seemed to be perfectly modeled after my Chapel Hill upbringing.
Life was a dream. The only hardship I faced was finding matching clean socks and trying to get home before the street lamps went dark.
I was a happy girl – blissfully unaware of stress, pain or trauma.
How quickly this happy girl would lose her innocence and childlike wonder.
When it was time for me to head to college, I chose UNC Wilmington which was a two hour drive from my hometown. My parents decided to uproot their life and move to Topsail Island where they owned a beach house in order to start fresh and be closer to me. Topsail was just 30 minutes from my dorm.
My father had started what would become a highly successful and lucrative law practice in their new beachfront community while my mom spent her days tending to the house and the dog and watching the waves from her beachfront chair. I visited them a few times a month in between classes, working towards my film degree and dreaming of my future illustrious film career in Hollywood. Wilmington had a booming film industry at that time so I was on movie and TV sets whenever I wasn’t in class. I even got a couple cameos on Dawson’s Creek, the show that emulated my childhood! My dreams seemed well on their way to coming true.
Life is what happens to us while we are busy making other plans.
The word cancer had never entered my vocabulary before. It was something that happened to “other” people. People I didn’t know.
So when I drove the commute from my college apartment to see my parents one sunny afternoon during my junior year of college, I had no idea the bombshell that was coming. My dad had asked me to meet him at his office.
“Mom has cancer,” My father said.
I didn’t know what shock was but in this moment I just went numb. How could this be?
We drove back to their beachfront home and I sat with my mom and dad. They said, “It’s OK to cry.” But I didn’t. I was strong. (I was numb.)
I was just a junior in college when I learned that my mother (and best friend) had only months to live.
My mom had started getting sick when I was in high school although she hid the signs from me for years. Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which they say the immune system literally attacks itself, leaving the body vulnerable to sickness and disease.
At first my mom felt numbness and tingling in her hands and feet, and over time even just walking had become more and more difficult. I now realized this was why she sat and watched the waves all day. It was a struggle just to get up. Her pain was increasing quickly.
Doctor after doctor, drug after drug: nothing could ease her pain.
Every new month brought a new specialist and a new prescription. My mother had boxes full of medications. She had to write down each drug she took throughout the day in order to keep track of all the pills so as not to overdose. Each new drug introduced at least three new side effects. The more drugs she took, the worse her condition seemed to become.
“Curing” my mom’s cancer became my family’s full time job. But no doctor and no test could determine the cause of her cancer, and therefore no doctor and no test could determine the best treatment. We went to the best hospitals in the state. UNC. Duke. Specialists. World Renowned Oncologists. Still no clear answers.
What followed over the next few months were weekly chemotherapy treatments. How quickly my mother lost her hair, her skin began sagging and she was growing hair in all the wrong places.
I wondered, “Is this making her healthier or sicker?”
But doctors assured us that this was our only option. And since doctors are GOD, well you know, we soldiered on.
But things just got worse.
“Does nutrition matter?” I asked one day to Dr. GOD.
“No. It does not matter. She can eat anything she wants.” Thank you, Dr. God. Whatever you say. Blessed be the fruit?
When they moved her from the hospital to the hospice I was told it was “only temporary.”
No one told me that hospice was where they take you to die.
I hung out in her room each day studying and reading as she slipped away a little more, further and further into a catatonic state. I don’t remember our last words because I truly did not comprehend the gravity of the situation. Denial.
One month before my college graduation, my mother, the beautiful Patricia Ann Doughty Biggar took her final breath.
I had left to pick up my great aunt from the airport who had come into town to visit. When I arrived back at the hospice my father and boyfriend met us in the lobby and told me she was gone.
That was the day I finally cried.
My mother’s death hit my father hard. His soul mate, his best friend, his reason for living was gone, and no one could explain why.
My dad and I were gonna make it though. We had each other. It was us against the world. And we were gonna be OK.
After graduating with a Film Degree, he supported my idea to try moving to California to pursue a career in Hollywood.
But, as is usually the case, fate had other plans.
You may not know this but when you cross the border into California they pull over your car, strap a yoga mat on your back and put a green juice in your hand.
(Kidding, sort of.)
In Los Angeles, I began meeting people. People with incredible healing stories to share.
I met a woman who healed herself of ovarian cancer through a raw vegan diet and healing emotional trauma.
I met a man who healed his auto-immune condition and lost 100 pounds by green juicing his way back to health.
I met another woman who healed cervical cancer through a raw food diet, meditation and kundalini yoga.
I was learning about Acupuncture, Vitamin C therapy, Plant-Based Diets, Ozone therapy: all of these crazy alternative modalities of healing that were foreign concepts to me and my southern roots.
I started making connections. Connection like, “The body can heal itself – if given the tools it needs to do so.” and “Food has the ability to harm us or heal us!”
OMG, Food Heals!
You are reading this blog, so you might be thinking (cue 90’s valley girl accent: Well, duh!) But, at the time, this information was revolutionary to me. The light-bulb had gone off and I was ready to shout my new-found knowledge from the damn rooftops!
I had started a film production company and somehow every single one of my clients was health and wellness related. Every person I met in LA and every person I worked with solidified my beliefs. I knew that I was going to dedicate my life to holistic health & healing and educating and informing people on how to prevent and reverse disease.
That was 2006. I was almost as blissed out and innocent as I was in that childhood memory I shared at the beginning.
And then WHAM. The Universe had another sh*t-storm in store for me.
Two years after my mom died, and only months after my dad remarried, I got a call from my father. I’ll never forget his words: “I’m sick baby. It’s bad. Come home.”
I flew directly home. I told my dad I would save him. I told him he had to taper down the massive amounts of pharmaceutical drugs and drastically change his diet. He agreed to try. We visited a holistic doctor who said he could help my father if we let him.
This new doctors office was in his home, not in a medical center and it smelled like patchouli, not medicine and he was wearing a flannel shirt and not a white coat. I could see the judgement in my dad’s eyes.
This holistic MD had assisted thousands of Stage 4 cancer patients in making full recoveries. My dad’s illness did not have to be terminal.
But my dad did not choose to change because he did not truly believe it would help. He did not stop the pharmaceutical drugs, he did not change his diet, he did not change his ways. The same oncologist who treated my mother prescribed him more drugs, more chemotherapy and radiation.
The same doctor who treated my mom told me to go home and let him die.
I pleaded, I begged, I cried. “Dad, drink this green juice! It will heal you!”
Eat garlic cloves! No sugar! No processed food. Do yoga! Meditate.
My dad lovingly laughed as he sipped his whiskey and smoked his cigar.
No way. My dad was going to live his life his way. And I had to let him die – his way.
The hardest thing I have ever had to do in my entire life was to accept my father’s decision. To stop making smoothies and start listening. To let him be himself and not push my new-found beliefs on him.
I lost both my parents to cancer by the time I was 25 years old.
As devastating as this tragedy was, it has instilled in me an innate sense of my purpose in this world, to awaken people – those who want to listen anyway- to the fact that a healing miracle is ALWAYS possible.
So you’re thinking “OK this is the end of the story.” Now she goes on to live out her mission and help people and write this book. Blah, blah, blah. Actually I’d say this is where my story begins.
Because now I had to start the long process of healing. Not only had I lost my parents but I had lost my stability, my trust in life that feeling that everything was going to be OK was completely shattered.
I now lived in constant fear. Fear that I would get sick too. Fear that I would run out of money.
Fear that I would die.
I was 25 years old and it felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders.
And this is when the “school of life” began for me. Nothing I was taught in high school, college or by my parents could have prepared me for this.
Not only did I lose the only family I had ever known, but then I found out I was broke. The executrix had completely mismanaged my father’s estate, stopped running his business efficiently, and stopped paying the mortgages on his investment properties.
Someone from Bank of America called me and said, “You’re losing thousands of dollars a day. Mortgages haven’t been paid in months. Your homes are in foreclosure.”
You guys, I was 26 and I literally didn’t know what foreclosure was.
So I retained a lawyer. “The estate is broke,” he told me. So I didn’t even have the money to pay him.
Depression, fear, anxiety, anger.
How the F was I going to survive?
I didn’t like drugs so I couldn’t numb the pain.
I didn’t have a religious background so I didn’t know how to talk to God.
So I put my faith in food. Greens, fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, seeds, soups, smoothies.
“They can’t take my health away!” I declared! “At least I will never get cancer!” I decided.
Food became the basis of my healing for a long time. By changing my diet and transitioning to a plant-based diet my body began to change. My digestion improved, my skin cleared up, I lost weight. Health was my passion and so it was fun to focus on being healthy and avoid being depressed.
By the time I went fully whole-foods-vegan, I was a new person. I had never felt so good in my life! But I was still having dark days. So I needed to take the next step in my healing journey.
Gratitude became my go-to.
I knew nothing about the connection between our bodies and our emotions growing up. It just wasn’t a part of our vernacular. Five stages of grief? WHAT is THAT? I was clueless as ever as to how to get in touch with my emotions.
They say, “You gotta feel it to heal it.” So I slowly learned methods of emotional healing that would help me grieve.
Meditation helped me quiet my mind and halted my anxiety.
Music allowed me to feel my emotions more deeply.
Counseling allowed me to give the feelings a voice that I hadn’t been able to express before.
Hypnosis allowed me to access and heal traumatic memories I had suppressed.
Slowly I began to allow myself to grieve; and through my grief I was able to find gratitude.
In the presence of gratitude I found that anger, sadness, pain, anxiety and depression didn’t exist.
And in this space I was able to turn my pain into my purpose.
Turning Trauma Into Triumph
Along with the emotional healing came the spiritual healing. I had turned my back on religion my entire life after having negative experiences at church (not rapey ones, just being told I was “going to hell if I wasn’t a good girl” type scenarios.) And that did not resonate with me.
But, throughout this journey I began discovering the work of people like Edgar Cayce, Sylvia Brown, Marianne Williamson and Gabrielle Bernstein. My mom had always been on the “woo woo side” while my dad was straight up, “What you see is what you get.” So spirituality, the after-life and a belief in God, a higher power or “The Universe” was always 50/50 for me.
It was like having the angel and devil on your shoulder where the angel’s like, “Dude, everything is amazing in heaven. Your parents are blissed out AF!” And then the devil is like, “Nah, they are dead and buried and that’s it!”
Over the last ten years since the death of my father I am happy to say the angel has won. I believe I am being guided and supported. I believe in the afterlife. I believe that my trauma is something that can empower me to help others.
Now, I am not going to tell someone who has just lost a loved one or gone through some horrible F-d up trauma and tell them, “God has a plan.” (I’d be mad AF if someone said that to me after my loss!)
But I do believe that there is life after death and that my parents are still with me, guiding me and loving me. And so in order to have a relationship with them I had to forgive.
I had to forgive myself for not “saving” my parents.
Forgiveness opens the door to freedom.
So that today I can have a loving relationship with them even though they are not physically here on this planet.
And, Love Heals.
And I’m still working on having a deeply loving relationship with: myself.
In 2015 I started The Food Heals Podcast (Like Sex and The City for Food, ya’ll!) This was a place for me to finally have a voice in this crazy world of health and wellness. This was a place where I could share my story along with the healing stories of others and truly start a food revolution!
Finally I could stop preaching to those who didn’t want to hear what I had to say and speak to those who I could help, those who were seeking knowledge, inspiration and motivation to get healthy.
At first, when I thought about starting my podcast, fear overwhelmed me. Who will listen to me? Who am I to start a podcast? Will this even help people?
Imposter Syndrome. A disease many of us suffer from. Sound familiar?
Through my spiritual work, I had to learn never to hold back who I am. No to play small. That my story can help others. That everyone doesn’t have to like me or agree with me. That I do not have to be a doctor to talk about health. That I am not a fraud.
It is impossible to be a fraud of one’s self.
Today, when I feel scared about standing up for what I believe in or saying what I truly believe, I remind myself of this powerful quote by Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.”
That’s why I am writing this book and sharing these incredible healing stories with you. Because when we live in our truth and stand in our power we are unstoppable!
I will continue to podcast. I will continue to write books and blogs. I will continue to make films. I will continue to share my story, speak my truth and heal myself.
And I will share your stories.
Because when we share our stories, we give others permission to share theirs as well. And collectively, we all heal. And each of our stories may be the key to unlocking someone else’s prison.
Transform your life with Spirit Junkie Masterclass
If you want to give yourself the gift of Spirit Junkie Masterclass and delve even deeper into how to Step Into Your Purpose, Tap Into Your Power and Transcend Fear For Good, join me for the 2019 Spirit Junkie MasterClass!
This course helps you gain the confidence and tools you need to live your highest purpose, make an impact and earn for your great work.
During the Spirit Junkie Masterclass Digital Course Gabby Bernstein will teach you to…
- Clear the blocks that keep you from owning your purpose.
- Build a successful spiritual business or bring your spiritual principles into your career by following Gabby’s proven, practical Spiritually Aligned Action Method.
- Strengthen your spiritual practice and experience a personal transformation with a Spiritual Deep Dive.
- Become unapologetic about accepting your divine purpose — and EARNING for your great work.
- Use your gifts to serve others in big and meaningful ways.
- Write books, create products and design programs people can’t wait to buy — and attract that audience to you.
- Gain the confidence to actually do what you’ve been dreaming of.
- Learn how to be seen and heard with a Soulful Marketing Plan (this is her powerful method for marketing, publicity and social media with authenticity- and it works).
Because this course was life-changing for me, I know it can be for you too. Not only will you get this powerful course but you will also get the best bonuses I have personally ever offered!
9 Incredible Bonuses like:
- Customized Transformation Battle Plan with Adam Schaeuble
- Six Powerful Guided Manifestation Meditations Led by Suzy Hardy
- Plant Powered Meal Planning with Vegan Chef Melissa Glazewski
- Wellness Warrior Course with Whitney Lauritsen and Jason Wrobel
- One Hour Coaching Call to Write Your Book with Author Laura Petersen
- Podcast Secrets Marketing & Monetization Success Strategies Digital Course with Allison Melody
- Six Months Access to The Food Heals VIP Club with brand new Never-Before-Heard Podcast Episodes
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Available anywhere you listen to podcasts!
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