Two weeks ago I went to get new waist beads, a ceremony that has marked moments in my life over the past five years. Browns, yellows, whites, greens, chakras and beads adorning my waist, grounding me in the beauty and brokenness of life. Last week when I was showering, I noticed that all my beads were twisted together. As I tried to separate them, I realized that the two strands I had gotten last week — rich blues for Yemaya, water, life and healing, and gold for abundance in health and life — had been interlocked together. While I knew that this was a simple mistake, the accident of strands catching one another while being melted shut, the message to me in the moment felt clear.

Even though I’d heard it before, it hit different to hear the hematologist’s surprise at what I do each day at levels where the heart is working too hard, breathing is labored, concentration is impossible, and the body is too fatigued to do anything. It was difficult to hear her explain to me that she’d never seen iron saturation levels as low as mine, which were virtually undetectable in my blood.

Iron is essential to life. Our bodies use iron to make hemoglobin to carry oxygen to all parts of our body and myoglobin to provide oxygen to our muscles. It helps us not feel tired, supports our brain function, and helps us fight off infections. While the majority of people have storages of iron that support them even in the case of loss of blood or low iron levels, I essentially have none.

But that would not have always been true. Somewhere, somehow, something was lost. I have to regain it; build a storage from the ground up, and find the means of maintaining it. These aren’t things I think about. I’m learning to make room to do so.

I’ve been trying to spend more time connecting with my body. Lavender oils massaged in at night. Grounding meditations. On Sunday I went to a Korean spa a town over with a friend. As I watched them scrub a layer of dead skin off of my body, I closed my eyes and thought about shedding away the bad and uncovering the new life underneath. In times like these I return to the words of a beloved Beau Taplin quote:

Listen to me, your body is not a temple. Temples can be destroyed and desecrated. Your body is a forest — thick canopies of maple trees and sweet scented wildflowers sprouting in the underwood. You will grow back, over and over, no matter how badly you are devastated.

Just like the interlocked beads around my waist, I am concentrating on connectedness of healing and abundance, and the flows of life. I will grow back again.

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