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Ep #48: Your Why and Polyvagal Theory

What gets you up in the morning? What’s that driving force that propels you to take action every day, to live the intentional life of your dreams? That’s your why, my darlings. On the podcast today, I’m talking all about your why, and I’ll be touching on polyvagal theory as well, so you can nerd out with me in truly understanding this concept.

Lots of clients come to me for help in finding their passion or purpose, and I know this perpetual search can feel exhausting. Too many of you aren’t living on your own terms, having been taught to do what your parents think is right, or what society has told you is acceptable. This leaves you stressed, lost, confused, and most of all, it’s affecting your body. I’ve been here too, and so my goal this week is to help you find your why so you can start building the life you want.

Tune in as I show you how the polyvagal theory ties into your mental health, and why learning how to manage your mind is crucial to resetting your nervous system, so you can go out there and heal your mind and body.

Click here for a downloadable worksheet that goes along with this episode!

If you’re interested in working one-on-one with me, if you want to learn more about my upcoming program, or if you want to do breathwork meditation with me, drop me a line so we can talk about how to work together this year! 

What You’ll Learn:

  • Why it’s important to consider the reason you’re driven to do something.
  • How ‘your How’ in getting to ‘your Why’ will become clearer as you learn to listen to your mind, body, and spirit.
  • How aligning your Why with your day-to-day life can make life feel easier.
  • What the polyvagal theory helps us understand.
  • The role the dorsal vagus nerve plays in your body.
  • How your Why can guide both the small and big decisions you make in your life.
  • Why the work of healing your nervous system is vital to healing your mind and body.
  • A list of questions to help you identify your Why.

Listen to the Full Episode:


Featured on the Show:

 

Full Episode Transcript:

 

It’s easy to make a list of the 473 things you want to accomplish in a day, a month, a year, or even a lifetime. And often it’s harder to get those things off the list. Done and dusted. Especially those things that feel big, challenging, failure prone, vulnerable-making. Even harder still when you’re not connected with your why. The driving force within that propels you to take courageous action day after day, to live the intentional life of your dreams.

This week, I’m talking all about that driving why and nerd alert, it’s going to get science-y up in here, as I touch on some polyvagal theory, a nervous system science. Something I’m completely obsessed with. So keep listening, my love. It’s going to be a good one.

You’re listening to Feminist Wellness, the only podcast that combines functional medicine, life coaching, and feminism to teach smart women how to reclaim their power and restore their health! Here’s your host, Nurse Practitioner, Functional Medicine Expert, Herbalist and Life Coach, Victoria Albina.

Hello, hello, my love. I hope this finds you doing so well. I am fresh back in Brooklyn after a glorious week in upstate New York, where it was so cold and gorgeous and nature-tastic. I was building outstanding fires in the fireplace every night and just loving the quiet and the calm. And I love Brooklyn too, and I was really grateful for the opportunity to spend some quiet time amongst the trees.

Now that I’m back home, I am super excited to share with you that I’m going to be going live on Instagram every week, so make sure you’re following me, @victoriaalbinawellness. And I’m going to be doing some webinars, live Q&A sessions, and some Q&As here on the podcast too.

So if there’s any question that you’ve been dying to ask me or if you just want to get on my email list to make sure you don’t miss a thing as I go live to talk about the big issues my clients and I work on, like establishing and keeping loving boundaries with your parents, partners, and at work, how breathwork can help you heal your nervous system, managing anxiety, and so much more, drop us an email. Podcast@victoriaalbina.com. I’ll make sure that you are on the list.

Because these lives and these webinars are totally free and they’re going to be super informational. You know me, they’ll be fun and silly and I’ll be a total goof and I’ll be taking your questions live so you’re not going to want to miss it.

So last week, we talked about goals within the context of New Year’s resolutions because ’tis the season. And we talked, you and I, about barriers to change. Those stories in your head about why you shouldn’t do a thing that you’re saying you want to do. Like not getting defensive or not eating until you’re painfully full, or speaking to yourself kindly, or setting a loving boundary, or whatever it may be.

Barriers are stories, thoughts not facts that your brain has learned to use as a false flag. A false cognition. A way to try to keep you from failing ahead of time when failure is coded as a bad thing to avoid. Not the way we talk about failure. It’s our favorite thing ever. And your brain, specifically your habenula is delighted to keep you sitting fearful at the back of the proverbial cave, not doing anything to change your life because you simply haven’t died from not making change yet.

And your brain’s number one job is to protect you from dying. So anything that is new or different or coded as scary is something to be avoided. Makes a lot of sense, right? Trouble is that something scary may be something your conscious mind really wants to do, like exercising or taking your supplements, or not taking the bait when someone wants to get in a fight, not doubting yourself.

Your brain may object to all of these lovely seeming things when you’re not managing your thoughts. If you’re playing the same old cassette tape on repeat, you’ll live the same old unintentional life and will keep yourself feeling stuck, anxious, stressed, overwhelmed, and not moving forward.

Again, makes a ton of sense, right, my love? Continuing on this theme of how we make change, I want to talk out the concept of the why that drives you in this life. Why do you do the things you do? What motivates you? What moves you? And when we’re talking about working towards your goals, it behooves you to get clear about why you want to achieve what you say you want to achieve.

Is it truly in service of your own wellness? Or is it an attempt to please someone else? Do you want to, for example, exercise to feel healthy or to lose weight because you think it’ll make you more attractive to others? Do you want to go to med school or law school or whatever it is because you are passionate about it, or because deep down, maybe so far below your conscious understanding, you think it’ll finally gain you someone else’s approval? That people will be impressed.

The former, focusing on yourself, will keep you motivated. The latter will leave you exhausted and unsatisfied. So many of my clients come to me for help finding their passion or figuring out their purpose. For our ancestors, this wasn’t a question that I imagine they asked. What with working really hard to simply survive and all. This is also not a question that so many people the world over get to ask.

Folks who have little option but to subsistence farm or work three jobs to barely make ends meet and pay off their loans. This is a question imbued with privilege and I find it important to start by naming that. Not feeling clear about the impact you want to have in this world is a darn good problem to have. And that doesn’t mean that this thought is not a thought of worry, angst, stress, that can leave you feeling lost, stuck, confused, and unfulfilled.

It’s a good problem to have, and not knowing how to work it out is an exhausting one indeed. For so long, I felt unclear about my purpose on this earth. Why I was here, what I was meant to be doing, how I could be happy. So I did what felt obvious to me. To be of service. I worked in public health all over the world and its great projects to help make people’s lives better, and I enjoyed it until I didn’t.

Until the glamor of it wore off. The travel, roughing it in the field, the long hours, all of it. See, I was doing great work, but I wasn’t clear on why I was doing it beyond simply wanting to be of service. I wasn’t really in touch with the internal driver of the work, which is one of the most important parts of making change.

Getting clear on your why is a vital step in living an intentional life. One where you call the shots for you. Where you’re living on your own terms. Not your dad’s, not your mother-in-law’s, not society’s. Yours. So whatever your goals are for your own life, it’s so important for you to get clear on why you want to do these things.

Starting by understanding that so few of us have an angel come down from the heavens to tell us our purpose like a calling. Some of us do. In some ways, my life has felt like that in one way, and took some time to cultivate in another. That is, for sure I’m living out a calling to be of service and to help folks improve their health and their lives, and it took tons of deliberate and courageous action to connect with my deeper passion.

To try things on, to see if they felt right, to work to figure out the real why that moves me to do the work of building a life I love. And the how has changed over time, and that’s totally normal, my darling. See, I used to fret. Fret barely begins it. I would totally worry – yeah, I know, worrying, useless, right? But I would totally worry.

Like in high school and college, actually I feel like I spent my whole 20s rolling around in this one, that I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And I was comparing myself to like, all these folks that I went to high school with who knew exactly what they wanted to do, or at least they said they did.

My path was circuitous and that’s fine. I learned something I needed to learn with every turn. And the more I learned to listen to my body, my intuition, my spirit, the more clear I am on the how to go with that why. And I see this really tripping up my life coaching clients and I think what’s beneath it is this nagging fear that our lives won’t matter if we don’t connect with our passion, as though we’re some singular thing and will die without having made the most of our lives.

I want to debunk that right now. Your life matters infinitely, my darling. Whether you’re a fancy lawyer, an artist, a rocket surgeon, working in a literal salt mine, or if you’re staying home raising kids, babe, your life matters. Finito, bata. End of story.

 And I believe that each of us have unique talents, experiences, perspectives that the world needs. And while you can absolutely learn to feel neutral, at peace, and maybe even joyful, regardless of the work you’re doing in the world, when you align your why with your day-to-day, life can feel so much easier. When you’re doing the things that you love that feed your mind, body, and spirit.

And it’s from that place, I believe, that we can each make the most meaningful contributions to the world. When we’re living passionate, authentic lives. And finding your why and connecting with it daily is what drives you to take courageous action day after day after day. To fail over and over and over and to fail on purpose because it’s worth it in the service of your dreams.

Your why is what gets you up in the morning, putting on pants and putting yourself out there, getting vulnerable, getting real with yourself and the world about what drives you. About the change you want to see and be in this world. Your why will bolster you when things feel too challenging. When you feel ready to give up on your dream and live a life that’s just fine. Okay. Nothing special.

Your why will instinctively guide you to what is best for you, to your best decisions. Whether we’re talking about the small and vital decisions like to eat something now that you know makes you feel inflamed or tired or belly ached, to skip that class or meeting or event, or just get up and go, to go on that date or not.

It also will guide you in the bigger feeling decisions like to start a family, to quit your job and start your life coaching or herbalist practice, to break the patterns of codependence that have held you back, to heal yourself and your ancestral line. And when you try something new and fail, which is inevitable and delightful if you’re aiming for failure, having a deep and powerful connection with your why will help you to lovingly, gently, kindly reset and restart and refocus instead of burning the whole house down because your why is your internal accountability partner.

After 20 years in health and wellness, I have worked in so many settings, served so many people, and in the last few years, have come to recognize my true why and what I am most passionate about. I love, love, love to coach women raised by and in relationship with codependence and alcoholic who feel stuck in anxiety, insecurity, and overwhelm.

And I love to teach them how to feel confident, empowered, and to stop living their lives by other people’s rules. To support them in healing from their childhoods, to learn how to be their most loving parent. Boom. That is my passion. That is my why.

And I know that for a lot of people hearing that, it can be a lot, right? To pause and to get really real about the fact that how you grew up is likely still affecting you a lot today. And it’s just what’s real until you learn how to rewrite your own story. To retrain your nervous system, heal your inner child, use the life coaching that I teach in order to manage your mind. To really be the director of your own think-feel-act cycle. To live an intentional life, which is so deeply healing, my darlings.

When I had a busy functional medicine practice here in Manhattan, I loved working with women and folks socialized as women who had digestive concerns and fatigue. I loved helping folks to figure out what was going on in their bodies when the traditional allopathic Western medical systems had failed to give them an answer or any real help, and I loved it because I lived it. It’s my own story.

And to help women in particular to heal their guts and to get their energy back, their mood stabilized, to stop being so anxious and depressed and not have gas or pain or bloating, so exciting. And for long, so fulfilling. And after so many years of running seemingly endless labs, doling out supplements and prescriptions and nutrition plans, I came to more clearly see the pattern in most of these women’s lives, which is what my nerdy science brain loves to do, to see patterns.

The women I was most excited to help, whose digestion, mood, adrenal, thyroid, hormones, energy were the most severely impacted were ones like me. Who lived with self-doubt, whose inner child was running around alone and scared. A toddler in a china shop. Who didn’t set and keep boundaries.

Women who sought external approval above their own approval of themselves. Who didn’t have clear boundaries and took care of others above themselves, who often felt anxious, stressed, worried, or regretful, and whose thinking was based in a codependent style framework, often born in childhood and marked by habits like having difficulty making decisions or communicating in a relationship.

Having difficulty identifying your feelings. Valuing the approval of others more than valuing your own. Lacking trust in yourself and having less than stellar self-esteem. Fears of abandonment or an obsessive need for approval, an unhealthy dependence on relationships, even at your own cost. An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions or outcomes in the lives of others.

A fear of speaking up or taking care of yourself, or living life how you want to because someone else might not like it or approve. And these women had time and again, the most intense GI and adrenal symptoms, which makes so much sense. Alright, you ready, babies? Here we go. Nerd time.

Alright, let’s go polyvagal for a minute to explain this phenomenon and I’ll loop back to the whole why thing, I promise. But I got to get my nerding in. It’s been a minute. So sit tight, make sure your pocket protector is firmly in place, and your glasses are nice and clean, my nerds. Oh babes, I think I’m actually the cheesiest human mammal that’s ever existed and I love it. I love my nerdy self.

Okay, god, it’s so funny, I can feel the chain and the vibration in my body. I love nerding out about neuroscience and the science of psychology. I think I also like, extra love this stuff because it has wildly changed my life and I get to sit with these folks, my life coaching clients, and I teach them this stuff and I teach them how to apply it and like, I see their lives change. This is my why. I love this.

I’m going to rein it in so we can nerd out. And I’m going to keep it super simple for today. One of my favorite things to do is to overcomplicate things, but I promise, cross my heart, I’m going to keep it simple and come back to polyvagal theory a ton in future shows. So make sure you’re subscribed, my darling. Make it easy on yourself. When you’re subscribed the show just magically populates your phone and you don’t even have to do anything. One barrier out of the way.

Alright, you ready? Polyvagal theory. Okay, so I am obsessed. The main dude who wrote about polyvagal theory who sort of created the theory is Stephen Porges, and he works on the nervous system and provided the framework for polyvagal, which provides an understanding of our nervous system.

And Deb Dana wrote a book called Polyvagal Theory in Therapy, which takes Porges’ language and makes it both accessible and actionable in the work I do with my clients. And I really appreciate her book. Let me give a big shout-out to Deb Dana. She really took Porges’ nerd-tastic work and made it into understandable language, so thanks to her.

Okay, so we used to think the nervous system had just two branches. And this is what I learned in my medical training, along with like, pretty much everyone else who has regular allopathic medical training. We were taught that there’s the sympathetic, which is the freak out flight or fight branch, and the parasympathetic. The rest and digest branch.

And what Porges learned through his study of the vagus nerve, which happens to be my favorite nerve, it’s the 10th and longest cranial nerve. It’s called the vagus, which means wanderer in Latin because it wanders through the body and enervates or gives nerves signals to pretty much your entire body. From your face, your ears, down through your throat, your swallowing apparatus, and into your whole trunk.

It’s part of controlling your heart rate, your heart’s beating, your breathing, movement of your diaphragm, digestion, reproductive function, thyroid. This thing is a big deal. And what polyvagal theory teaches us is that the parasympathetic actually has two branches. The ventral and the dorsal.

Ventral is the front of you, dorsal is the back. And I like to think of the dorsal fin on a dolphin or on jaws to help me remember which is which. And the dorsal controls your freeze reaction, which is what you might do if you saw Jaws. See how nicely that all lines up?

So these different branches of your vagus nerve are tasked with keeping you safe and alive, and they have different ways to do that. This week, I am going to control myself, which I totally don’t want to do, but this is going to turn into six-hour podcast, so I’m just going to talk about the dorsal vagal, which is what is related to my point about the pattern I was seeing in my patients and the power of knowing your why.

Look at that. I didn’t lose the thread. So the dorsal vagus runs along your back and it’s your shutdown valve. Your freeze or faint. Your cut-it-out, your not-having-it system. The high tone dorsal, a detail I promise to talk more about in a show to come, gets activated. When your body has scanned for safety via your ventral vagus, the front bit, and is not liking what it’s finding.

And you know that you can’t use your sympathetic fight or flight in this situation. Like how you may know you can’t outrun and probably shouldn’t start a physical fight with a lion, a T-Rex. Your parents, your boss, an ex. It’s that point in a challenging conversation when you’re just feeling defeated.

That’s when your dorsal is kicking in. You retreat emotionally. And it’s that shutdown feeling. That checked out feeling. And it happens system wide. It can often feel like your muscles are just like, exhausted. Like you’re tired, seemingly out of nowhere like, oh gosh, I feel like I’m getting a cold or a flu. Or you might just feel lightheaded, squirmy, uncomfortable in your body, or you might just feel numbed out.

This is the dorsal vagus nerve in action, moving you into immobility, depression, or even disassociation. When you feel like you’re not quite in your body or your mind. You know that blank stare moment when someone’s like, “Wait, what did you say?” Or that defeated like, okay fine, I can’t argue anymore. Whatever you want goes.

That moment of feeling slowed in mind and body. When your body goes to there, it is to protect you and your heart and lungs are affected. Your thyroid isn’t getting the love it needs, so for my nerds out there, T4 to T3 conversion in the periphery is slowed. And here’s the punchline; your digestion slows like, can really slow or even rarely, don’t freak out, stop.

And the science is clear and it’s become sort of popular understanding about the importance of the gut microbiome and the gut brain superhighway, mind-body medicine. If your gut ain’t happy, it’s hard for you to be happy. And one of the main threads I was seeing in most, if not all of my patients, regardless of their symptoms was this exactly.

A slowed digestion and slow movement of food from the stomach through to the small intestine, through the small intestine, which happens via something called the migrating motor complex, which if you’re paying attention, this is an electrical system. It’s nerve-mediated. You putting the pieces together here?

Small intestine them dumps that food through into the large intestine, the colon, and food is moved through the colon via the peristaltic wave, which is muscular. Even folks with chronic diarrhea can have a slowed small intestine. And this slowing of digestion system wide is linked to irritable bowel syndrome, IBS, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, SIBO – had it. Chronic heartburn, also had it, and it can lead to cancer, which is super cute.

And of course, leaky gut. So when things aren’t moving through your digestion at the appropriate speed, everything’s going to go haywire. And via processes too complex to really dive into today, all of this leaky gut business, this slowing of the movement of food through the intestines can lead to depression, anxiety, thyroid concerns, fatigue, and hormone imbalance.

Let me repeat this super clearly, my darlings. Stress slows your digestion and can worsen or even cause leaky gut, or be a part of causing leaky gut by activating your dorsal vagus nerve more than serves you, leaving you with challenging symptoms that get worse when you aren’t managing your mind and supporting your nervous system. The science is clear.

Trauma, and I mean the trauma of growing up with codependence, being a personified child, the day-to-day trauma of walking around this world as a woman, as a trans person, as a person of color, as an immigrant, et cetera. And of course, the trauma of things like abuse or war.

These traumas, stress, overwhelm, self-doubt can be a part of worsening or even sparking acute and chronic gut symptoms, mood issues, and so much more. So my point is that unresolved trauma lives in your body. We know this. There are tons of books and great research on it, including the ACE study. Adverse childhood experiences study, which shows that childhood trauma affects every system of our body until we find ways to release it and resolve it.

And a powerful place it shows up is in all the things I was seeking to treat in clinic with lab tests, supplements, medications. And I came to see that the answer isn’t in just treating the physical body, which is certainly important, but the true root cause work is in treating the underlying trauma and helping the nervous system to not go into that dorsal shutdown, which is exhausting for your adrenal glands and slows digestion, leading to all of these downstream effects.

When I had wicked IBS, heartburn that wouldn’t quit, intermittent depression and anxiety, I didn’t realize that my thoughts were keeping me spinning in old trauma responses. I didn’t realize the effect my nervous system was having on my health. I had no idea.

Sure, eventually I found and murdered the parasite and bacterial overgrowth that were perpetuating my symptoms, and that first round helped a lot, but the beasts kept coming back and they kept coming back and coming back and coming back because I kept slipping into sympathetic, fight or flight, and dorsal vagal shut down, freeze.

More than I was in the ventral vagal, the part that knows that you are safe and secure, that keeps your body systems moving along as they should. So yeah, my digestion wasn’t doing the optimal thing, but it was doing the right thing. It was doing what it was designed to do, based on the signals it was getting from my nervous system, based on my past and mediated by my thoughts on the daily.

It wasn’t until I learned thought work and started managing my mind and learning to reset my nervous system that I started to actually heal in a deep and lasting way, and was able to reset my digestion, my thyroid, my adrenals, which feels pretty darn amazing, especially after a literal lifetime of feeling like either wet garbage or a human dumpster fire most of the time.

Y’all, I was really sick. This truly root cause way of healing our bodies, minds, spirits, my babies, this is my why and my how. I found my why in my own life, my own experience of learning how to heal myself, mind, body, and spirit. And this why to help other women to recover and heal from the chaos of their childhoods, the trauma in their lives, and again, I mean both the big T trauma, like war or abuse, and the daily small T trauma of not being heard or seen as a child, having an unpredictable adult as a caretaker, or being told directly or indirectly that you had to measure up to some standard.

Be it weight, or grades, or being a good girl, but you had to measure up. And see, kid brains can’t make sense of these things because they’re literally not built to. And all these moments of not feeling safe and secure, well, they add up. And they are trauma, my darling, and they are stored in your body.

And my why on this planet as a science nerd and a witchy woman, obsessed with the science and the sacred equally is to help you to rewrite and rewire. To coach you on all the ways you can start to see and live your life in a new way, not scared of other people’s opinions, not coding them as danger. Not scared to speak up or set boundaries, which also can be coded as danger.

Not scared to make choices that put you first because your kid mind might think you’re safer when you put others first, even if it costs you your digestive, thyroid, adrenal, reproductive, cardiac, or mental health. This is why I get up every day and coach my clients. It’s why I write blogs and post on social media and create this podcast for you every week because my beautiful, amazing darling, we’ve suffered enough. I’m done with it.

It’s time to change these patterns to liberate ourselves, to learn how to live an intentional life. And whatever your driving why is, doing the work to heal your nervous system, to help support your perfect vagus, and to retrain it to keep you in and help you return to the safe, social, connected state as much as possible is a vital part of healing your mind and body.

When you grow up with dysfunction, with chaos, or trauma, with demanding parents, absent parents, parents with addiction, distracted parents, codependent parents, parents who are in emotional childhood, or who just couldn’t meet your needs as a child, your amazing nervous system learned to manage your environment and your genius little kiddo brain learned to adapt to life as you knew it.

Maybe you learned not to feel your feels or to make everything into a really big deal. Maybe you learned that perfectionism was key to survival, or that you had to act out or push boundaries in the hopes that someone would set some healthy ones. Because to a kid brain, ‘negative attention,’ and yes, that’s in air quotes, is better than no attention.

Or maybe you stayed quiet. Maybe you were a ‘good girl,’ also in air quotes, and made sure you got no attention at all. We all learned to survive our childhoods and survival then was our most pressing why. As adults, we get to learn to write a new story, to move out of survival thinking. And the key to living an intentional adult life is to connect in deeply with your own why on your own terms.

And through that work to begin, or continue, to heal and to realign your perfect nervous system, to heal the trauma that’s lived within you for your own good. So my darling, what is your why? Why do you get up in the morning and do what you do all day?

If it’s to put food on the table, if it’s for your family to have the best life possible, whatever it may be, if it feels great, then that’s great. But if it doesn’t, I want to invite you to dive further into this question. I also love you so much, so I made you a little download. I love worksheet. Oh, my nerds. So go over to victoriaalbina.com/48. 

So go to there, this is episode 48, and grab my little download. It’s really sweet and it’s just these questions written out for you to work with, pen to paper because that’s good for your nervous system. That kinesthetic learning, it’s really helpful. Take two seconds, print it out.

So listen, a point that is incredibly important to me is to say that your why doesn’t have to mean radically changing every aspect of your life. Maybe you just get to reframe what you do on the daily. So think about something you care about this world and think about what you’re passionate about.

I have a number of clients who are personal trainers. And we talk a lot about how they make their clients’ lives so much better by helping them increase their strength, feel empowered in and connected to their bodies, happier and more able to go out and help the world however they do. That is a beautiful why.

Maybe you’re an artist and you tell beautiful stories through your art. Maybe you move people to connect with their emotions through drawings or crafts or graphics or photos you make. Creativity helps heal the nervous system. Art makes life better. That is a beautiful why.

Maybe you’re in wait staff and you support people in having a night out. Taking a pause to enjoy their lives, have good company, and connected with other humans. Maybe getting up every day, pulling on those black pants and that white shirt, putting on a tie you know will soon be covered in butter, maybe the why for all of that is supporting people as they enjoy the beauty of food and their connection with one another.

Or if you work at a diner, maybe your why is supporting folks who are taking a break from their construction job or whatever else they’re doing to feel fed and nourished. Or once again, maybe you’re just working to put food on the table and pay off your loans.

Baby, all of these whys are powerful whys. I just want to say it clearly. You don’t have to say I have to throw out everything in my life and go be some yoga teacher in order to have a powerful why. I mean, if you want to go teach yoga, go teach yoga. But hopefully you get my point.

There can be a beautiful why in anything you’re doing, and I invite you to see how you can connect with it. And if you’re ready to move on from the place or stage where you are in your life, if you’re ready to do something a little different, I have some questions that I’d love to invite you to ask yourself.

So my darling, before we dive into these questions, let’s do what we do. If it is safe to do so, close your beautiful eyes and take a deep breath in and out with a sigh. Put a hand on your heart, keep breathing into it. As you breathe out, release your stories about other people and what they think you should do.

Forget societal norms, what your parents want you to do, what you were taught is the right thing to do. For a moment, disconnect from reality, from things like making money and ask your intuition, sweet body, body that loves me, intuition that will never guide me wrong, what is my why on this planet?

Sit with it. Let it marinade. Really feel into it in your body. Your answer is right there. Trust yourself, my beautiful angel. This is your one life to live. I invite you to live it up. Flutter open those beautiful eyes. Welcome back. Alright, let’s dive into some questions.

What excites you? What makes you feel amazing? What are so amazing at doing it feels effortless? This is what’s known as your zone of genius and I’ll get back to that one soon enough in a podcast episode. My darling, when do you feel most alive? Think of some moments when your heart was at peace, full of joy. When your body felt radiant and amazing. What were you doing?

Similarly, when do you feel most in a flow state? At ease, creative, joyful, like time is just flying by in the most perfect way. I feel that way when I’m leading breathwork, when I’m coaching, and when I’m giving lectures, which are all part of my current life. What is the activity that you could never get tired of doing? Like cooking or teaching or whatever it is for you.

Former hospice nurse moment. If you found out that you only had five years to live, what would you do for the rest of your life? What would you want to spend your final years doing? I am so, so privileged, so grateful that I get to say if I had only five years left to live, I would seriously spend at least three of them doing my current job. Like, hands down. I would lead breathwork, I would coach people to transform their lives, and I would still make this podcast for you.

And then I would like, go visit the best places on earth for steak and chocolate. Let’s imagine you could completely craft your most perfect workday. What would that workday look like? And I literally want to invite you to be like, I get up at 6am, or I get up at 10am. Write out literally what you dream of this day looking like.

Question that helped me to start to find my why, what is the thing you won’t shut up about at a dinner party? And I want to give full credit to that one to the amazing art professor Laurenn McCubbin who I met when I was living in Durham, North Carolina. She asked me that question at a dinner party and it really – it changed my life.

Alright my angels, keep breathing. Keep putting a hand on your heart and connecting in with your intuition. Keep asking your body. Remembering that it’s your why that will keep you going when things feel challenging. When you failed and failed and failed so many times and you want to just throw in the towel, it will be your why that gets you up, gets you going, and tells you to write one more piece, to send off one more résumé, to apply to one more grad school, to do whatever it takes. One more audition. One more try.

Oh my darling, I’m so excited for you to get in touch with this. To get in touch with the why that will help you live your most amazing and intentional life and will help you to heal your inner child. Alright my beauty, hey, so I’ll be doing a series of Instagram Lives, and then in the coming weeks I’ll be doing some webinars and I’ve been getting a bunch of DMs.

I’ve mentioned that I’m going to be doing a six-month coaching course. I’m really excited. We’re doing some really, really super-duper fun travel this winter and I’m going to be doing some lectures and traveling for work. So I’ll be doing the course starting in April.

So my love, there’s a lot of moving parts over here. So make sure that you’re following me on the social medias. @victoriaalbinawellness over there, and make super-duper sure that you’re on my email list so you don’t miss a thing. Hop on over to my website, victoriaalbina.com/48, or email podcast@victoriaalbina.com to get on the email list and I’ll be sure to send you your free worksheet to go with today’s episode and I’ll make sure that you’re the first to know about all the great free events that I’m doing and about my upcoming master class.

Alright my darlings, thanks for listening. I know this one went a little longer than usual. Thanks for sticking in there, but it was a good one, right? I love nerding out. So my beauty, remember, you are safe, you are held, you are loved. And when one of us heals, we help heal the world. Be well and I’ll talk to you soon.

Thank you for listening to this week’s episode of Feminist Wellness. If you like what you’ve heard, head to VictoriaAlbina.com to learn more.

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Victoria Albina

Victoria Albina, NP, MPH is a licensed and board certified Family Nurse Practitioner, herbalist and life coach, with 20 years experience in health and wellness. She trained at the University of California, San Francisco, and holds a Masters in Public Health from Boston University and a bachelors from Oberlin College. She comes to this work having been a patient herself, and having healed from a lifetime of IBS, GERD, SIBO, fatigue, depression and anxiety.

She is passionate about her work, and loves supporting patients in a truly holistic way - body, mind, heart and spirit. A native of Mar del Plata, Argentina, she grew up in the great state of Rhode Island, and lives in NYC with her partner. A brown dog named Frankie Bacon has her heart, and she lives for steak and a good dark chocolate.

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