The Healing Journey is a series born out of the reality that we all have our own path to healing. When we share our journey two things tend to happen, we often find freedom in sharing our stories and we always inspire others. There is power in speaking up and it is time to tap into that power.
The mission of The Healing Journey is to provide a platform for women to connect, inspire one another and empower each other. Together we will stimulate conversation, create awareness, healing and stand together knowing that each and every one of us are unique, gifted and powerful.
I am in awe of this month’s feature. Olivia Plummer is a photographer, yoga and meditation enthusiast, and positive thinker extraordinaire. Olivia was born with Spina Bifida, a neural tube defect where there is incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord. Olivia’s journey is one of strength and exploration. I am so incredibly excited and honoured to share Olivia Plummer with The Healing Journey and the community.
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble makers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules & they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them glorify or vilify them. The only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward & while some may see them as the crazy ones. We see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” – Jack Kerouac, Writer.
Clare Kenty: For those who don’t know you, what is your story?
Olivia Plummer: I came upon the Women’s Womb Healing meditation group hosted by holistic practitioner and doula, Nicole Angela in Toronto 2015. It was through this women’s meditation group I learned just how powerful it is to be a Woman, a Venus, a Goddess, Myself, a Queen when the mind-body connection is whole. The meditation group met once a month around the time of the new moon to gather, speak about how our month went, any techniques that were working, and goals for the next quarter. The second half of meditation was a guided meditation to enter into our womb space, investing time in the moment with ourselves.
Initially the idea of entering into my body through mindfulness meditation was a scary thought because I had no idea what was buried in the unknown… The only thing I had ever associated with my body was physical pain and to consciously dive deep into my body seemed like an overwhelming journey. But I said “Yes” and everything from my past started to unravel. My healing journey began and the effect that I’ve been left with is indeed overwhelming because for the first time in my life I actually feel comfortable being in my body.
CK: What is Spina Bifida?
OP: I was born with Spina Bifida which is a hole in the base of my spine, a space where the spine vertebrae should be closed but instead there is a gap that subsequently brought on muscle weakness in my legs. My life was filled with enormous amounts of physical pain. For the past 15 years since puberty, my body has been filled with extreme pain which the doctors thought was a by-product of the 10 surgeries I had in childhood that helped me to walk better. I thought it was something I’d have to live with for the rest of my life. Everyday I would reluctantly get up sore and tired and went through my day at half mass because all my attention was on enduring the pain. My sciatic nerve was impinged, and my pelvis area always felt contracted, my legs, feet and ankles were swollen and sore. Some days there were no in-between moments of pain, it lasted for hours, all day. I’ve even gone to the emergency room but all the doctors did was give me stronger pain relief medication.
Doctors are sure how to treat pain from a traditional scientific background because if they can’t see it then it must not be that terrible. Some scientists believe pain is an emotional trauma manifested. Once I started to meditate and look into the thoughts I was still holding on to, it made more sense to me. I held on to the pain for so long even though it was making my life a living hell. It made me indolent as I was prone to panic attacks if I was too far away from home, my comforts and drugs. It was like that day in and day out for years. At this point in my life my connection with my body was definitely severed.
When I started to look into my emotional pain I felt that it was from past bad sexual experiences, feeling disempowered and having my feet bound and manipulated by doctors when I was a child, telling my psyche that I wasn’t good enough as is. I hated having pain so ignoring it was what I did and it worked for a while. But in the end my coping mechanisms weren’t working anymore. My life was dulled to a quiet hum of going through the motions and feeling lost. It wasn’t until the meditation group that I was told to consider talking to my pain, accepting that it was part of my reality, and to ask it what it needs to feel comfortable. Before then I never thought to address the pain directly, it wasn’t taught to me.
CK: How would you describe your body?
OP: I worked continuously at switching my thoughts from victimhood to survivor. Every thought I had I would immediately question it and see if that intention fit with the idea of the woman I wished to be. If it wasn’t then I had to say the exact opposite of that thought right then and there. I started using a mantra by Teal Swan W.W.S.W.L.T.D? “What would someone who loves themselves do?” It was a powerful tool in observing and questioning my thought processes.
Physically, thanks to yoga and physiotherapy my body is more flexible and strong. In large part thanks to the Women’s Womb Healing circle I was granted a safe space to look inwards and heal. When I did, I could see the energetic body and the clutter that lingered there, trapped in my muscle walls. Everything from past hurts, insults, scar tissue, bad sexual experiences and physical wounds, personal attacks were living there. All tightly spun and visibly protruding in dark cloudy masses within the space of my womb. This was where my pain laid.
With continued practice I was able to sustain residency and visually dissolved the dark spots with love and acceptance, shedding light and obliterating the sickly spots. This practice took a couple of tries as some dark clouds were denser than others and resisted my intentions. I had to take my time with myself during this part of my practice as it was very much an interconnected mind-body experience and integrating on different levels takes different times. Now with daily practice for at least 20 minutes I feel more at peace in my body and like I am growing into the empowered woman I want to be. Soon after I started to feel better and said yes to invitations more. I found myself jumping out of bed to greet the new day, and I felt more attractive and started dating again.
CK: Would you say you have a relationship with your womb?
OP: “Know Thyself” was a mantra I got used to over time. My womb space was an enigma to me. Sadly during my puberty years I had only disdain for my womb space as it was a source of muscle cramps, pain, moodiness and blood. Even though I come from a lineage of French Canadian Amazon women, my mother did not teach me how to care for my womb other than when I bled once a month. While growing up I looked outside of myself to tell me who I was, what I should be, how to grow up. A minor detour.
In my late 20’s my healing journey was triggered because the growing pains were actually too painful to ignore anymore. As I stumbled upon meditation, inner dialogue, found ways to empower myself, learn to forgive the past, my healing journey began. When I felt brave enough to submerge my consciousness to meet my subconscious they stubbornly began to catch up with each other. It was a testing period of my life. I unleashed some dark rivals during this process and it took time for me to find the benefits in each emotion and how to balance male and feminine properties within myself, and in the moment at hand. During this time I also became aware of the power of human potential of being in the present moment. Source brings power into a woman’s womb space as a by-product of reconnecting mind-body-spirit. It is akin to awakening the kundalini force, Qi and the flow.
As feeling energy becomes less symptomatic (a problem as a symptom), when it flows and enamours the human body the sensation makes us malleable, then we can feel the shifting energies from various levels. At which point an adept person (one who is well trained) can tap into the present moment and choose to act in the present moment or get caught up in the personal symbolism of the moment. When one lets go of the past their current moment becomes more richer and full, fully alive in the present moment. You’re only as good as your last thought in 17 seconds. This has now reshaped my perception of the world due to the fact that we are responsible for the energy we put out into the world.
CK: If she could speak, what would she say?
OP: Haha. Well recently I read Amy Schumer’s book “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo” and her first chapter is called “An Open Letter to My Vagina.” It’s hilariously written and I admired and felt her experience was quite similar to my experience so in the words of Amy Schumer I will say that my pussy’s response would be, “We’ve had a lot of fun didn’t we?”
CK: When did you become aware of your womb space?
OP: Once a month I knew I had a womb space because she would reminded me, but it wasn’t until my introduction into body scanning meditation that I truly brought my awareness there. Body scanning can be a tiring process so its best to do a scan under desired conditions, in the bath, awaking from slumber, whenever you have a few moments of quiet reflection and can rest afterwards. During body scans the attention is brought inwards as one tries to heal that which was previously touched by fear with an attitude of gratitude. It’s a sacred interlude between conscious realms to take time to claim your space, feel worthy of this lifetime under the best possible intentions.
CK: How has spina bifida affected your relationship to your body and your womb?
OP: Spina Bifida has been known to perpetuate a numbness in the sacral limbs. I have endured severe pain, even entering catatonic states, body seizures, and symptoms of a stroke from physical pain, so associating myself with my body was a relationship I was not willing to acknowledge. Funnily enough I didn’t think too much of my physical limitations when I was a kid frolicking about but through my puberty years, drugs and alcohol were like a magnet to me because that feeling of intoxication was as close to God as I could get. It gave me the feeling of lightness, of freedom. Escaping myself was my plan through much of my youth. Indeed like any human I’ve staged wars within myself, battled with feelings of anger and hate towards my body only to create a split in psyche, an emotion that sought acknowledgement in other ways. I felt like I was trapped, weighted down by the limitations of movement it withheld from me but really I was trying to force change to unfold in a certain way. This lead me to realize the times when I thought I was improving I was actually bullying myself into change and that my healing journey needed to take much longer.
Actually I pursued this strife in my artistic practice and my thesis work was a sequence of black and white film large print photographs of me looking into a mirror and documenting movements with the camera lens. A very personal and empowering photo series for me. For me to look clearly at myself, and consent for an audience to see me as well. What I learned is that acceptance is the key. I had to acknowledge my limitations to be free from them. Visible or unseen disabilities truly don’t mean much to someone if they are true friends. The others who don’t understand because of their limited knowledge don’t pay them any attention. Everyone is doing the best they can.
Though I am proud to say now my relationship to my body is respectful. After 3 years of focus & training, avoiding temptations and reaching for better feeling thoughts, I’ve reached a miracle in regards to my physical pain which has now decreased in duration and intensity.
CK: What work have you done in order to heal your womb/ body/ self?
OP: I make a point to have fun each day. I love to play, laugh, scream, talk, be active and so I find new adventures in any way I can. If my yoga routine is too foggy then I put on a cd and dance through my stretches. I’ll take alternative routes to work, walk through the forest, order a new dish, window shop and meet new people.
I want my life to be fun, full of love, abundance of wealth, health and joy and so I search for it. I once heard on a youtube recording of an Abraham-Hicks seminar where she asked the audience “How much would you pay for a day like today?” That kind of reasoning can knock you off your pedestal and switch focus to abundance. Most days I live a multi-million dollar life style! Shifting perception from victim to survivor to a thriving success that’s full of abundance in love, health, wealth and joy has been my biggest reward.
I had to learn to accept and respect my limitations, other’s boundaries, how to feel empowered, show myself love with acceptance, challenge myself, find my life’s purpose, volunteer and find ways to have fun. I love to meet people, go on dates, volunteer and uplift people but I’ve learned my sense of peace and happiness is too big of a deal to play Russian roulette with. When I place high value on my time then I carry an ace in my pocket and adopt an attitude of grace as my sidekick. Most days, just being here is more than enough.
CK: What do you do in order to develop your relationship to your body?
OP: Having fun is my number one goal these days. I get a thrill from riding my bike fast down a hill, a walk through the woods, a good yoga session with candles and music, a fun date, playing on the balance ball, time for myself to paint, write, make photographs, dream. One day I’d like to try paragliding, travel to Nepal, Italy, England, Russia, Croatia, get paid for my photography, progress in meditation, find a partner in crime, and always to search for what feels good. “Find what feels good and follow it” as Adriene Mischler says from Yoga With Adriene on Youtube. Life is full of new sensations, its so great to go with the flow, not make such a big deal of things and have fun.
CK: When a feelings come up for you, how do you work through it?
OP: Self doubt still plagues me and sometimes anger. But I know these tantrums happen because of a mind map I set up a long time ago that still present an obstacle for me because I haven’t worked on forgiveness. There’s a John F Kennedy quote that says “Let us never negotiate out of fear” decisions should be made with a clear head, never out of an emotional state so take all the time you need. The next time someone puts you on the spot, breathe, count to 10, make a pro/con list in your head and then answer, “I’ll have to think about it.” I try to be deliberate with my next thought, feeling, and action. If someone is putting you on the spot that is definitely the time to slow down and go at your own pace. Thoughtful decisions are the best decisions. I’ve also taught myself some self soothing techniques like reminding myself “It will be okay,” to breathe brings me back to center, name 5 objects that have the colour red, orange, and the like. And also asking myself “What can I do to bring back to peace and joy in this moment” is another question that will shift my perception back to a loving consciousness.
CK: What is your message for anyone in the midst of or about to enter their healing journey?
OP: You’ll find your dreams come true more frequently and easily and when they do say “Yes!” There’s no time for self doubt when it comes to empowering yourself in your life.
Once you say yes it starts to get easier. “Yes I want healing”, “Yes I accept the challenge”, “Yes this is my time to shine.” “Yes I deserve to feel good.” Whatever mantra you hear is yours to repeat. Chart your process, repeat it for 2 months at least, stock up on cold remedies, comfort foods and pay yourself first with your time. If time is well spent you’ll soon feel like a different person, you’ll level up, become a better version of yourself, one who is not resistant to change. Or whatever personal goal you decide. But remember to pay yourself first because time is money.
CK: Do you have any messages for anyone reading this post?
OP: Personal awareness is just that though, perception & perspective, or depth perception as I call it. Now whenever I enter the flow, alignment, mindfullness I have a frame of reference and go back to my breath and think about the goal at hand “How do I want to feel?” I check my attitude, bend my knees and choose the outcome I desire. With more practice it becomes habitual to reach for better feeling thoughts, to dream, visualize, and later to acknowledge an opportunity when it appears. With practice anyone can grow into the person they wish to be. Life is not a dress rehearsal, it’s the main event. Get ready to claim space, be empowered and abide by your decisions.
“We can’t look to the world to restore our worth; we’re here to restore our worth to the world. The world outside us can reflect our glory, but it cannot create it. It cannot crown us. Only God can crown us, and he already has.”
– from “A Woman’s Worth” by Marianne Williamson.
Olivia Plummer, thank you. Your story is so touching, I am in awe of you and your transparency in sharing your journey. It takes great courage to open and share our stories like this, thank you for inspiring us to be bold and brave in our own journeys.
The photography by Olivia Plummer encompasses themes of photojournalism, identity, performance art, relationship of body to landscape, and relationship from alternative body image media. Connect with Olivia and view her work at www.oliviaplummer.com
Looking for support in your womb healing journey? Click on over to the Womb Wellness Program. This is a program that requires you to dig deep, to face what is stored in the womb and work with it to heal, release and receive. The program combines integrative health coaching, deep womb work and Reiki to support your healing. Read more…
Not ready for the full program? Check out Womb Wellness 101. A series of workshops that educate and empower women not only to reconnect with their bodies but learn how to heal themselves naturally. Together, we look at simple ways to make changes in our lives that benefit our health and wellness. From what foods promote womb wellness to how to decrease your PMS symptoms, Womb Wellness 101 will encourage you to take a proactive role in your health. See what WW101 is coming next. Read more…
If you are interested in sharing your Healing Journey, please email info(at)clarekenty.ca with “The Healing Journey” in the subject line and include a little about yourself and your story, or fill out the form below and I will contact you. Please be aware that The Healing Journey series is primarily about womb healing and womb wellness.