When Turning 37 Feels Like Turning 77

surfing giants with osteoporosis

About six weeks before my birthday, on the full moon in Scorpio, I traveled to Maine to see a holistic gynecologist: an alternative-minded healer who helps me navigate the nuances of being nearly two decades post-menopause during my prime years.

We reviewed test results. She uttered the word “osteoporosis.”

Fuck.

Osteoporosis, a disease rampant among women in the latter years of life, occurs when bones become so brittle they risk fracture from doing simple things like bending forward. Bones require estrogen to remain healthy and dense, and while I supplement estrogen to offset the negative consequences of living without it, nothing replaces having ovaries.

My heart sank. I always knew osteoporosis was a looming threat to me, and I’ve spent the last ten years working hard on bone health. I eliminated gluten, worked on my digestion, spent thousands of dollars on vitamins, cautiously used bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, worked out, spent full weeks at a time on my yoga mat, guzzled green juice, ate exceptionally well, and made sure to consistently get great sleep. I moved my life upstate part-time for better work-life balance. I traveled the country to see specialty doctors. I worked with advanced functional medicine protocols. 

Sadly, none of my efforts proved fruitful. Since osteoporosis is undeniably linked to my hysterectomy, I now felt charged for the same crime three times: I went through cancer, I am infertile, and now I have a bone disease complication generally seen at a much later stage of life.

Triple fuck.

On top of this, over the last two years I have closely watched a couple of suspicious lymph nodes in my neck. When an ultrasound proved inconclusive, I learned I needed to have a definitive biopsy: surgery.

So one week before I left for Bali, and two weeks before my birthday, I woke up at 4 am, checked myself into the hospital, and had an early morning surgery. Fortunately, this super minimal surgery allowed for easy recovery, and the biopsy proved benign.

Hallelujah.

Of course, I considered canceling my trip before I left. How could I travel to the other side of the world, by myself, given these circumstances? But when I checked in with my heart, my intuition screamed, “GO!”

The minute I arrived in Bali, I had no doubt I made the right decision.

Letting Go of Old Emotion

The day of the new moon, I found myself before an esteemed healer. This older Balinese yogi cracked my spine and realigned my entire neuromuscular structure with his hands and feet. As he walked on my back, I urged him to be careful.

“This is the problem,” he said as he poked his strong hands into my stomach.

“Your psoas is tight. It’s doing damage to L2, L3, and L4. This is old emotion.”

He knew the precise place I suffered. As he continued to massage deep into my stomach, releasing old tension and pain, tears rolled down my face.

“Let go,” he said.

I left his clinic in euphoria. I had specific instructions on how to move toward healing that rang true both intuitively and physically. I felt a sense of youthfulness resume in my body.

Finally, I felt clear enough to set my new moon, and birthday, intentions.

While new moon wishes aren’t magic, they do allow us to start again. And if we work with the waning cycle of the moon to release pain and our shadow, we can step into a fresh new cycle with resurrected wisdom—month after month, year after year, moon after moon.

This process of starting again each month amplifies our resilience and power.

Surfing Giants

I came home from a mind-blowing 17-day adventure to the same circumstances I left: a complicated medical diagnosis and a challenging place in my infertility journey. Yet, I returned feeling years younger, utterly excited for life.

Through the years of journeying this road, I have learned to see my suffering as a pathway to my liberation. It challenges me in ways I would never consciously choose, and when I accept this, I always find it takes me to new heights. I would have never chosen this, but since it’s here, I am going to mine the depths of what it offers.

This is what I teach. Not how to be perfect, or how to have it all. But how to show up, face life, and find your best self in the process: how to face the dark and create the light, despite a sky of clouds.

I know I am not alone when I say my life sometimes feels like I am alone on the shore of Half Moon Bay, California where 50 foot waves pound the surf with unstoppable velocity.

You too have learned, and are continuing to learn, how to surf giants.

Know that this journey from darkness into light isn’t in vain. It has made you who you are, and is helping you develop your resilience.

Resilience is the secret to surfing giants and staying true to ourselves, no matter how many times we receive bad news, disappointment, or face heinous challenges.

Join Me For Spiritual Transformation

If you want to step into transformational leadership and spiritual entrepreneurship, check out this video series by my dear colleague Gabby Bernstein. Gabby is an incredibly skilled leader who teaches (expertly) how to claim your story as a part of your purpose, and how to live your purpose professionally in total abundance.

If you want to find answers in your pain and use them to step up and out into the world with your strongest truth as a leader, check out this series. It’s awesome.

More soon.

All of my love,

Jenn

 

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4 Comments

  • Ashley Smaldino

    This really spoke so deeply to me, Jennifer. Thank you for sharing your struggles and your journey. I’ve been having a lot of old feelings and emotions come up the past few days and what you said about surfing the giants really struck a chord for me, a good one! I took an entire day yesterday for myself-walked to the beach, read on the sand and even swam a bit (finally!!) I send you lots of love and continual healing <3

    • jracioppi

      Thanks Ashley. What if we could approach all of our massive life issues like a big wave surfer faces the threat, and excitement of monster surf? Here’s to surfing. And, yay to the beach. So happy for you! Keep me posted:)

      Big hugs,

      Jenn

  • Doug

    What amazing insight… Keep these blogs coming!!!

  • Leah

    I can really resonate with your experience of releasing old feelings and emotions caught up in your body’s pain. It made me remember a yoga routine for dancers that I could barely complete because just going through the movements brought on inexplicable tears. Thinking back on it, I’m sure I was releasing emotions that have been long pent up. I think I will revisit that program :).

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