344: Mind Body Medicine

Mandy Flanders And Ashley James

After a mold infestation, Mandy Flanders and her daughters' health deteriorated. Diet and detox helped, but they did not eliminate the symptoms. This certified traditional naturopath turned to holistic healing and uncovered deeper roots of disease — trapped emotions. Mandy shares how acknowledging her feelings led to true healing and made her “safe in her body” again.

[00:00:03] Ashley James: I am so excited for our interview today. We have with us Mandy Flanders. She's a holistic health coach and a certified natural health professional. She's working towards her traditional naturopathist certification through Trinity College, and she has a wealth of information to share with us today, most importantly though her story, which is incredibly inspirational.

As you listen to Mandy's story today, if it resonates with you in a way that makes you want to do the work that she does and help people as a holistic health coach, then I think you will love IIN, the Institute for Integrated Nutrition. That's the online school that I went to take the year-long health coach training program designed for very busy people so that you can fit it into your schedule. It is a phenomenal course.

Every week you're given videos that are of the caliber of TED talks. They are very interesting. In school a lot of the classes were boring, and I was afraid this would be boring. Every single week was incredible. It was riveting. If you are into health, you will absolutely love IIN's program. They train you on how to be a successful health coach.

If you're interested in becoming a holistic health coach, call up IIN, talk to them, ask them for more details, talk to them about their health coach training program, make sure you mention the Learn True Health podcast and Ashley James because I secured a fantastic discount for my listeners. You can also get free access to part of their training by going to learntruehealth.com/coach. Sign up to check out a module of their training so you can get a feel for it.

Enjoy today's interview. 

[00:02:14] Ashley James: Mandy, welcome to the show.

[00:02:16] Mandy Flanders: Hi, Ashley. Thank you so much for having me.

[00:02:19] Ashley James: Absolutely. Mandy, you've been a listener for quite a while. You're very active in the Learn True Health Facebook group. You and I have been friends on Facebook. I love following all your posts, by the way. They have inspired and helped me, and I know that you're going to help a lot of our listeners here today. After listening to this interview, everyone can go to the Facebook group, and we can have an awesome discussion with Mandy about everything that we've learned here today.

I want to dive in and hear more about your story because you have this beautiful journey that you've been on towards the healer that you are now. Of course, you had to go through your own healing in order to be inspired to want to dedicate your life to helping others. Thank you for getting a bit vulnerable today and sharing what you've been through in your past. I know a lot of us can relate. Tell us your story.

[00:03:12] Mandy Flanders: Thank you. I started to get into holistic health after I got pregnant actually. I was very acutely aware of how everything that I was ingesting, feeling, thinking was going right to my baby.

At that time, I didn't know what to eat, what to avoid. I was very into water sports at the time that I got pregnant which are pretty hard on pregnancy, and you're actually not supposed to do them while you're pregnant. I was also coming out of drug addiction. I was entering into a very new territory of just a complete metamorphosis into this new person that I didn't know existed.

I started learning about the types of foods that pregnant women should eat. I didn't even know how to cook at that time. I would think macaroni and cheese was cooking or a can of soup was cooking. My son is now six, and I learned a lot since that time.

[00:04:34] Ashley James: When you were pregnant, you were no longer using drugs and alcohol? Could you tell us a bit about that experience? How did you end your addiction to drugs and alcohol?

[00:04:48] Mandy Flanders: The story is interesting, I think. I got arrested for my third DUI and wound up in a jail that was like an hour away from my home. I was in my early twenties and terrified of calling my parents to let them know that I had been arrested again for drinking and driving.

[00:05:14] Ashley James: How old were you?

[00:05:15] Mandy Flanders: I was, I think, twenty-one, so it was about ten or eleven years ago. It took me a few days of being in jail to finally decide to call and let anyone know that I was in there, but I knew at that time that something had to change. I didn't know how it was going to change, and I didn't know what it would look like, but I knew that I could not go on that way. I knew I was looking around the jail cell at all of these other women that were in there with me, and I just knew that I did not belong there. It was not a path that I saw myself on for the next ten, twenty, thirty years.

So I detoxed in jail. I remembered feeling extremely sick, shaking, sweating and nauseous. Of course, the food that they give you in jail is not nourishing at all. I finally called my family, and I remember my mom answering the phone — it was a collect call — and I just started crying. I was like, “I don't know why I keep doing this.” She didn't know what to say either.

So they finally came and bailed me out, and I went back to my apartment. I lost my license because it was my third DUI. I started going to AA about a month later. It took me a while to decide what I was going to do and how I would do it, and I had an anklet on at that time to detect alcohol in my sweat levels.

[00:07:03] Ashley James: They should have that same kind of anklet for donuts. “We've detected your blood sugar has raised.” It's like, “Zap! No more Krispy Kreme for you.”

[00:07:15] Mandy Flanders: Yeah, that's hilarious. Why don't they do that? “Your sugar content is way too high.”

[00:07:23] Ashley James: “Go hit some kale.”

[00:07:28] Mandy Flanders: That's funny. So yeah, I started going to AA and was surrounded by a lot of people my age who were going through similar things. It was from there that I was able to find a steady footing to figure out how to get sober. I ended up linking up with an old friend of mine who I used to party with, who found herself in AA. It was ironic that we were both there together. It was good to have a community of people around me who were trying to figure out how to do this, too.

I just had a lot of good support. It was a good foundation for me. I'm not currently in AA. Not long after that, I met my husband who was a huge catalyst for healing and growth for me as well. The relationship that we have together has been super profound for my healing.

After AA, I started yoga teacher training. This is not the path that I would recommend for everybody, but for me, yoga teacher training gave me a new set of tools to be able to manage the emotions and the stresses that I was trying to numb out with alcohol and drugs.

[00:09:00] Ashley James: Did you figure out what led you to use drugs and alcohol in your life? Did you find that after you stopped using drugs and alcohol, that you started using other things to cope? A lot of people will go to sugar to stimulate the serotonin and get an escape. There's sex addiction. There's addiction to watching TV. There's exercise addiction. There are ways that we can legally escape. Did you find that you were craving different habits that were unhealthy, or did you get to the root cause?

[00:09:45] Mandy Flanders: I did not get to the root cause initially. I did a lot of counseling and a lot of deep inner work, and it wasn't until we were exposed to toxic mold three years ago that I realized that there was a deeper root. It's interesting because these stories are from two different times in my life, but they overlapped so much.

The toxic mold helped me to realize that I did not get to the root of the issues at all. I didn't realize it, of course, at that time, and I was medicating with chocolate. I was medicating with research. I was medicating with certifications, schooling, and education. And so a lot of people would consider those healthy, but I was still stuck in this disease of avoidance with not the best coping mechanisms, and so I would feel stressed, and then I would start researching, “Oh, me and my son have a runny nose.” I'm going to start researching all the causes that could contribute to a runny nose, so that wasn't helpful either.

So then we were exposed to toxic mold. We had lived in this house for three or four years, and we had some intense family stuff going on. My younger sister had just been diagnosed with brain cancer and some other things we're going on. My body was just under an extreme amount of stress. I was not sleeping well. My food choices were not the best, and I could tell my heart rate was high all the time. I was not managing my stress very well.

So then I fell sick from the toxic mold, and the kids too when they were were getting sick with colds and congestion like every other week. I was having these crazy symptoms of headaches and severe brain fog, nausea, digestive issues, heart palpitations, joint pain, muscle pain — just so many symptoms that a person should not have to be subjected to.

I went on a hunt. I didn't even know that we were being exposed to toxic mold, but I just went to on a hunch. Something told me to get the house tested. We did and found very high levels of a lot of different types of molds, and there are five toxic black molds, and we had four of them in our home.

[00:12:25] Ashley James: How long has that been going on? What is it chronic? Did all that mold suddenly happen? Did you realize you've been exposed to it for a long time?

[00:12:34] Mandy Flanders: I think we had been exposed to it for a long time, and with this extreme stress that we were under, it triggered. It's an opportunistic pathogen, so it was like, “Hey, you're weak right now. We're gonna attack you.” That's what happened.

[00:12:54] Ashley James: The rain barrel effect keeps coming up. Oh, my gosh — that must have been crazy. Tell me a bit about the intuition. Was it a little voice? Can you remember back to that moment that you thought, “This could be mold”? What notified you that it could be black mold?

[00:13:17] Mandy Flanders: It was just a very strong gut feeling.

[00:13:23] Ashley James: So you listened to the gut.

[00:13:26] Mandy Flanders: Yeah, and it was challenging because I didn't realize what a huge undertaking mold was going to be for my family, for our health, and for our bank account.

[00:13:37] Ashley James: How did you get rid of it?

[00:13:39] Mandy Flanders: Oh, man, that's a whole other story. I didn't know much about mold at that time, so we hired a remediation company after we had it tested, and they found high levels of the Stachybotrys, Aspergillus, Penicillium, Cladosporium, Chaetomium.

This remediation company came in, and they taped up the door and did a zipper, and they were tracking the materials in and out through the house still. And then they were removing the walls; they removed the bathtub, the sinks, part of the ceiling; they just kept removing until they didn't see any more mold. They were spraying what they said were natural mold killers, but I could smell it through the whole air duct system. We're sitting on the couch, the kids and I, and I could smell this chemical coming through the air events. I was like, “That's interesting because they supposedly taped over the air vent in the bathroom, so I wonder how I'm smelling it over here coming through the air vent.”

They left and pretty much immediately our health got even worse. I called the insurance company and was trying to talk to them about the claim and what was going on with our health and how we were not doing very well, and I felt like we're getting worse after the remediation, and she was like, “I can't believe you're still in the house.” I said, “What do you mean?” She was like, “I can't believe nobody has told you to get out of that house. You should not be in the house while they're remediating, especially not with children.”

And so I looked at my husband after he got home, and I was like, “We have to get out of this house. We can't stay here.” We went to stay with my parents. It ended up being seven or eight months while they remediated. I fired that company. I came in one time while they were gone and went into the bathroom where the wall was when the air kicked on. I realized that where the wall was removed, there was air moving through that space. I had someone, a contractor, come in to look at it with me because I was like, “I don't understand this. There is air moving through the space. What is this?” He said, “That's an air return, and it goes into the whole air duct system.” I was like, “Are you serious?”

[00:16:13] Ashley James: From the moldy bathroom.

[00:16:14] Mandy Flanders: Yes.

[00:16:15] Ashley James: Oh, my gosh. Who designed this?

[00:16:18] Mandy Flanders: I know. I fired that company. I called them, and it was like, “This is insulation. There is mold all over, and this is an air return. Everything that you were doing was getting sucked into our entire air duct system.” They denied it. They were like, “That's not mold.” I had a company come in and test it, and sure enough, it tested positive for very high counts of all the black molds.

I fired them, hired another company to come in, and they did it right. They taped up everything. They sealed everything. They had negative airflow going out of the house so that the mold would be tracked outside the house. They were wearing hazmat suits. Everything was done properly the second time around.

[00:17:07] Ashley James: Can you share the name of that company? Is it a national company or just local?

[00:17:12] Mandy Flanders: I think it's just local. They're called Dry Rescue Services.

[00:17:17] Ashley James: Local to what area?

[00:17:20] Mandy Flanders: Orlando, Florida.

[00:17:22] Ashley James: We want to give good attention to good companies.

[00:17:27] Mandy Flanders: Yeah, so they did a good job. We ended up having to replace the entire air duct system, the bathroom, the laundry room, and the kitchen.

[00:17:39] Ashley James: Amazing. Seven months out of your home.

[00:17:43] Mandy Flanders: Yeah, with two little kids.

[00:17:47] Ashley James: What did you do to recover the health of your family after you realize that everyone had been exposed to four toxic black molds?

[00:17:55] Mandy Flanders: Initially, I focused on the diet. I cut out all high-histamine foods. We didn't do anything fermented. I cut out grains. For me, I cut out all animal products. We were eating fruits and veggies. I didn't feel it impacted me that much, which I was surprised by. I was like, “Maybe I'm just detoxing.”

So then I started doing homeopathic detox by the Energetix brand. That seemed to help a little bit. I noticed more drainage and things like that. I was doing saunas regularly, too. I couldn't work out at all in that time because every time I started to work out, within five to ten minutes, I would have to go and take a two- or three-hour nap after working out because my adrenals were just so shot.

[00:19:03] Ashley James: Do you think that was an accumulation over the alcohol and your life before the mold? Do you think that your adrenals were fine until the mold?

[00:19:16] Mandy Flanders: They probably had some accumulation from my life before the mold, but there was so much time in between that I feel like it was mostly stress-related and then compounded by the mold.

There was just so much stress happening at that time. It's hard to paint the picture of how taxing this was emotionally on us. It strained my marriage. My kids were extremely stressed out. My daughter was one and a half at that time, and my son was three. It was a rough time, and I didn't know anything about remediation. I didn't know anything about mold at that time, so I kept making these decisions that I thought were the right decisions, like hiring that remediation company that was referred to us, and then it would blow up in my face. I'm like, “Why is this happening?”

[00:20:14] Ashley James: What are the symptoms? Were you the only one experiencing symptoms, or did your children and husband also have health issues because of this?

[00:20:28] Mandy Flanders: My kids did, too. They were getting sick every other week, just like I was. Before I figured it out it was the mold, we thought maybe our immune systems are weak because it was in November that we all started to feel sick. I was like, “Maybe our immune systems are just weak. It's that time of the year.”

But then it was every other week we were getting sick with a new cold or cough. Our diets were really clean at that time. We were eating animal products, but everything that we were eating was grass-fed, pasture-raised, organic. We didn't do much processed foods, so I felt we should not have been getting sick that much.

And so we were talking to friends and family, and they would be like, “Maybe you're doing too much,” or, “Maybe your immune systems are not as strong as you thought they were.” I felt like I was going crazy. I'm like, “Am I okay?” My husband didn't have that many symptoms at that time that he noticed. The kids and I were the canaries. I felt a little like I was going crazy.

[00:21:40] Ashley James: So you're doing the homeopathic remedies which a little bit have helped, then what? Did you ever get to a point where you found something that helped, or was it an accumulation over time of many things that helped you to recover from the mold damage?

[00:22:01] Mandy Flanders: I finally had a friend who was healing from Lyme disease and breast implant illness, and she had suggested doing coffee enemas. I knew that the liver would be really important because if it gets congested, then nothing else can work. Digestion shuts down, and your brain doesn't think as clearly, and you can have pains, rashes, and things like that, which I was having. It took me months to finally consider doing the coffee enema.

After I felt like I had tried everything, I decided to try doing a coffee enema. After the first one, I had so much more energy. My pain was reduced pretty dramatically, and I felt a lot better. I felt clear-headed. I didn't feel anxious, and so I continued to do them, and I did them every day for about a month, and I felt really good. I was able to go back to yoga. I was doing yoga once a week, but I had to stop all of it because I couldn't exert my body.

I started to feel really good, and then one day, I started to feel symptomatic again after doing the coffee enemas. It was like these waves of anxiety and fear, followed by heart racing and sweating. And so I thought maybe it was Herx reaction, maybe I was doing too much, I was detoxing, I was demineralizing myself. For a couple of months, I took a break from the coffee enemas, and I started to focus a lot on rebuilding.

I started to feel better, and then I met with a friend of mine. She's a therapist, and she works with kids. I asked her if she would be willing to work with me, which you're not supposed to do, so I'm not going to say her name. She agreed, so I started working with her. We wanted to maintain our friendship; that was the most important thing. If things got to a place where I needed to go work with a different therapist, we agreed that we would do that, and there would not be any issues.

We started working together. In one of our sessions, I had the same physical sensations associated with childhood stuff come up. It was the same as after the coffee enemas, and I realize at that moment that what my body was trying to do then from the coffee enemas was detox the emotions that were trapped in my body.

[00:24:55] Ashley James: Wow.

[00:24:58] Mandy Flanders: I had to learn how to feel comfortable with sensation, and I wasn't. I didn't realize that until I started doing the coffee enemas because any time I would feel any twinge or anything, I would immediately think that something is wrong with me.

[00:25:18] Ashley James: What do you mean by being comfortable with sensation? Do you mean being comfortable with your heart racing or symptoms the body is demonstrating, or do you mean emotions?

[00:25:30] Mandy Flanders: Emotions. For me, sometimes they manifest as heart racing. I'll get a wave of anxiety out of nowhere, and my heart rate will elevate, or I'll feel nervous for some reason out of nowhere and start having sweaty armpits or something. I'm like, “That's interesting. I don't know what that is.” But now, I have come to understand that when those things happen, it's energy. Our body is moving these old stagnant emotions that got stuck out in the body.

[00:26:02] Ashley James: For you to process.

[00:26:03] Mandy Flanders: Yeah, and it doesn't have to happen consciously. A lot of times we think that we have to be conscious and aware of these energies moving out of the body, but we don't have to be necessarily. Sometimes that helps like if you're working through something, it helps to be conscious. But if you're just sitting and watching TV or reading a book and all of a sudden, you're super calm, and then out of nowhere, you have this sensation of anxiety, or fear, or dread. Those are the sensations that to me indicates, “Okay, there is a trapped emotion, trapped energy, or trapped energy in emotion, which is e-motion, that's trying to move out of my body.”

[00:26:43] Ashley James: I find that some people like to self-medicate to avoid those feelings that they haven't been able to process. I have caught myself in the past wanting to gain pleasure from food, especially in the evenings. In the evenings, the kids have gone to bed, the house is quiet, and your mind goes, “Oh, good, you've got some spare time. Let me bring up a memory when you're five years old.” Here you are doing something while you process this stuff that you haven't been dealing with.

Our unconscious mind likes to bring it up to the surface for us to resolve because holding on to the stuff is not healthy, and we hold on to it because we weren't able to process it in our past, or we didn't have the resources to, but we do now. I would find myself moving towards the fridge, even though I'm not hungry because I wanted pleasure and distraction from what my mind was presenting.

I was unconscious of it for a long time until I started to pause and had to get really conscious about it. Am I really hungry? No. Why am I having this very intense desire to get a snack? I don't need one. It's not physically needed for the body to consume calories at 7 p.m., 9 p.m., or 11 p.m. My body can totally live off of what I ate for dinner. I have enough energy from that food, and it's going to sustain me until the morning. So what's up?

If we look at grocery stores and aisle after aisle of snack food, I'm not alone. Many of us are suppressing our emotions through snacking, pushing them back down. We grew up in an era where we're not given the resources to acknowledge that emotions are important to work through, and we're not celebrated for taking the time to do that. We're celebrated for the exact opposite — don't cry, push them down, push through.

[00:29:00] Mandy Flanders: Don't be a baby.

[00:29:01] Ashley James: Get stuff done. Get it done. Get up, wipe it off. And so taking the time for self-love and self-care is seen as weakness, and we're staying late at work, working on the weekends, pushing through, pulling all-nighters — that is respected. Beating up your body and harming yourself further is rewarded.

We have this paradox, maybe we came from a family that didn't have any resources to pass on to us about processing our emotions, and so a lot of us don't believe that emotions are that important when it comes to healing physically. But how important was it for you? You discovered that some of your physical symptoms were directly related to your unprocessed emotions.

[00:29:57] Mandy Flanders: I would say it was essential to my healing. It wasn't until I started to address that and to learn how to feel safe in my body again, because that's ultimately what it is, is that we don't feel safe to process those emotions. When I learned how to do that and how to sit in discomfort, I ultimately remembered that I am safe, and that I am okay, and that feeling is not a bad thing.

In our society, we're taught everywhere that feeling is not good. If you feel something, you need to get on an antidepressant; you need an anti-anxiety. If you feel something, you need an epidural, if you're having a baby. In all areas of our lives, especially women, we're told that it's not okay to feel.

[00:30:50] Ashley James: And in business, too.

[00:30:52] Mandy Flanders: Oh, yeah.

[00:30:53] Ashley James: We have been de-feminized. I'm not going to bash men; that's not the point. The point is that women feel pressure to be the stereotypical man. The stereotype of man doesn't feel, which is just as damaging to men because men have emotions like women. We are pressured to suppress and to not come from emotion.

[00:31:14] Mandy Flanders: I feel like we're doing the men in our society a huge disservice by perpetuating that line of thinking.

[00:31:23] Ashley James: Exactly. What's on the edge of everyone's mind is how — How do I? How did you? How do we process emotions? What are some healthy practices that can begin to help us to allow to the surface things that have been creating ill health inside of us?

[00:31:47] Mandy Flanders: The first step is having the awareness because if we don't know that we have something under the surface, then we can't do anything about it. A lot of people don't even want to recognize that something is lurking under the surface because we think it's a lot worse than what it really is.

I've told my clients before, it's not as bad as you think it is, and I tell them this mental image. Imagine you're sitting on the couch, and you're looking for the remote. You go under the couch, you're reaching, and you feel something cold and squishy. You get a flashlight, you're like, “What is that? I can't look. I don't know what that is.”

So you get your flashlight, and you look under the couch, and you realized it's just an old banana. It's not this big, ugly, horrible snake or whatever you imagine that it was. It's just this tiny morsel of something that can help you get to the next level of your awareness and of your healing.

[00:32:47] Ashley James: I remember the first time I went in for hypnotherapy, I was terrified. I was in my early twenties, and I was afraid that something dark would become uncovered, that there was something dark inside me. I was afraid to meet my unconscious mind.

It was interesting walking in, observing this fear that I was having. If I were coming from my reactions, I would have run away. But I became the observer, I'm like, “That's interesting that there is this part of me that is genuinely afraid of hypnotherapy because I'm afraid of myself. I'm afraid of what's underneath the surface.”

That also gave me enough curiosity to want to move forward, and then, of course, I discovered that there isn't this dark, evil Ashley hiding inside me or some suppressed memories. But it was a lot of stuff that my unconscious mind wanted to resolve in a way in which I can handle it slowly, layer after layer. Every time I did, I felt lighter and freer, and toxic stress would go down further and further.

So yeah, it is a process. But that willingness to listen absolutely, and to know that it isn't that big, giant, scary thing that we think is hiding in our unconscious, but it's just a wounded child that wants to be heard.

[00:34:21] Mandy Flanders: Our subconscious mind has this amazing mechanism. We're geared and designed to survive. Our subconscious is not going to show us something that we're not prepared to handle. We'll never be shown something that we cannot handle.

[00:34:39] Ashley James: Exactly. There is that safety mechanism there, and that's why some people suppress things or push things down until they're ready to process them.

[00:34:49] Mandy Flanders: If something is coming up, it means that you're ready. A lot of people don't want to admit that because they're like, “But I don't know if I am.” I'm like, “But you are because it's starting to come up.” So let's explore it and let's see what is really under there.

A lot of times, I find that it's never actually the thing that we think it is. We find that, as you said, it's just a little wounded part of us that's like, “Hey, you haven't paid any attention to me, and I haven't felt heard in 30 years. Can we do that now?”

[00:35:23] Ashley James: That's awesome. So in the last six years — your son is six. So it's more like seven years because it was when you were pregnant that you started on your health journey. How long have you been sober?

[00:35:37] Mandy Flanders: That's a good question. I think about nine or ten years.

[00:35:46] Ashley James: Awesome. Congratulations. That's really cool.

[00:35:48] Mandy Flanders: Thank you.

[00:35:49] Ashley James: Absolutely. It's great that you acknowledged that we could use other things to avoid. I think all of us do it. All of us to a certain extent will use TV or things that are illegal just to avoid. It's fine — sometimes we just need an evening to go out to the movies. Let's forget about the laundry piling up or the emotional laundry piling up. It's okay, no judgment here. This is no judgment zone. But is it serving you? We just have to look at that. Is this behavior serving you in the long run, and of course it's not.

But the good thing that came out of your journey, and some of your avoidance behaviors, you collected a lot of certifications and a lot of wonderful knowledge that has helped you and is helping your clients. Walk us through all the certifications that you have achieved in the last nine to ten years.

[00:36:58] Mandy Flanders: I went to an esthetician's school before I did my yoga teacher training. I'm not currently licensed anymore, but that was a pivotal step in my holistic health because a lot of the teachers there were energy healers, as well as holistic estheticians.

I started to dive into different energy healing modalities, and then from there went into yoga teacher training, and then the certified natural health professional. I do my own — I can't call it hypnotherapy — but kind of guided questions and imagery to help people see their inner child that wants to be healed.

[00:37:53] Ashley James: Awesome.

[00:37:54] Mandy Flanders: Yeah, and I do holistic health coaching. A lot of times too, I find with my clients, when they want to address the emotional and mental stuff, I love being able to meet them where they're at with the physical stuff. I found that sometimes you can't even access the emotional stuff until your body feels strong enough to be able to handle those things that are coming up. It's important to bring the body up to baseline, nourishing the physical body, and then you can access the deeper things.

[00:38:23] Ashley James: Yes, absolutely. That's the exact same thing I found with my clients. I even tell them right off the bat. Some clients, after our initial talk, I get a feel whether they're ready to deal with the emotional stuff and then do the physical health stuff, or whether they need to clean up the diet first and have a few months of feeling good in their own body, and then the emotions are going to come to the surface, and I let them know.

It's so funny because it's very rare that people are ready to deal with their diet, exercise, lifestyle, stress relief, all the physical things, and deal with the emotions at the same time. It's usually one or the other, but the first one prepares them for the second one. It's so true. It's funny that you see that as well.

[00:39:15] Mandy Flanders: Oh, yeah. You have to bring that body up to a healthy place of being able to handle that stuff because they won't access it otherwise. I've had clients that are like, “Oh, yeah.”

One client came to me once because she wanted to lose weight. We talked about diet and the emotions that go around eating and things like that because you have to address that piece too, and I did not hear from her again after our first appointment. I was like, “Okay, I respect your process.”

I don't let my clients get away with very much either, which I think for some people can be triggering. If they want to heal, I want to know how committed they are to the process. One of the first questions I asked somebody before we work together is, “How dedicated to this process are you? How much do you want to heal?” Depending on their answer, we'll determine if we're a good fit or not, because I can help somebody only as much as they want to be helped, and you know that.

[00:40:24] Ashley James: Yes, we're not doing the work for them. But you know what I love? Health coaching is so much more hands-on. Of course, I believe that you should have a team of professionals. I have a naturopath, but my naturopath doesn't come home with me. I only see her once every three months.

Whereas a health coach, you're talking to weekly, or even touching base with daily depending on your needs and their service. But some of my clients, I've said, “We're texting each other at every meal,” or, “You just check in and send a picture of your meal. Tell me how you're feeling.” There's a daily check-in.

Even though I'm not physically going home with them, the clients are doing all the work. We're way more hand-holding than you'll ever get from a doctor. It's a different relationship. A health coach almost goes home with you, but you still have to do the work. I guess with AA it's similar, but just knowing that there's someone you can reach out to allows us to stay present to our goals.

[00:41:37] Mandy Flanders: Exactly. It's funny as you're talking about this, I forgot about one of the certifications. I'm also a certified doula and lactation counselor, and health coaching is very similar to doula work because you're guiding somebody into this birthing process of shedding layers of who they were and to become who they're meant to be. Even if it's just with food, and I shouldn't say “just with food” because that's a lot of times a huge mental hurdle for a lot of people to overcome because there are so many layers around it.

[00:42:15] Ashley James: It just keeps going on and on.

[00:42:17] Mandy Flanders: I know. I actually had a call with one of my mentors today, and she goes, “Mandy, this process doesn't ever end. You know that, right?” I was like, “I know.” Sometimes it's really exciting, and other times it's really discouraging.

[00:42:34] Ashley James: It's so beautiful when you get that big picture of life. The teacher is always a student. You want a teacher who's always a student because you want someone who's always learning, and you want a coach who has a coach. You want a therapist who has a therapist. We want to make sure that we're not stagnant.

You have a special training around cancer as well — your yoga training for those who are going through cancer.

[00:43:04] Mandy Flanders: Yes. I teach yoga. I'm certified in yoga for cancer, and I teach yoga in the Cancer Center here locally.

[00:43:13] Ashley James: What's the difference between non-cancer yoga and cancer yoga?

[00:43:18] Mandy Flanders: There is actually a big difference because you have to account for the surgeries that people have had and the treatments that they might be undergoing and the emotions. Cancer is such a deep manifestation that a lot of people who have been diagnosed with cancer, especially if they're going a more conventional route as far as treatment, have some very deeply rooted patterns emotionally. Sometimes they could go to a normal yoga class, but a lot of times, depending on where they're at in their treatment, a yoga for cancer class is going to be a lot more gentle and a lot more all levels.

[00:44:04] Ashley James: Interesting. When I went to massage therapy college — this was in the late ‘90s — the concern was not to stimulate lymph flow that much for cancer patients because we didn't want to help any of the cancer metastasize, which was just crazy because the second they get off the table and start walking, they're flooding their lymphs. What is massage going to do? I'm just curious if yoga for cancer patients is different in that you're not stimulating lymph flow, or is it the same?

[00:44:42] Mandy Flanders: No, you're definitely stimulating lymph flow. Yoga, in itself, is like a lymphatic massage, and I sometimes do lymphatic massage with my cancer patients too if they've had like breast surgeries, or some of them have lymphedema in their legs and hands. We'll do lymphatic massage around those areas to get the lymph moving out.

[00:44:49] Ashley James: It's so silly sometimes the myths that survive in the health space.

[00:45:11] Mandy Flanders: I know.

[00:45:12] Ashley James: Tell me about testimonials. Tell me about some stories of success of people working with you, especially people with cancer. Do you have any stories you can share?

[00:45:22] Mandy Flanders: I have a client who came into my class two weeks ago, and she comes to my yoga for cancer class. She had a lumpectomy on her breast. This was a couple of years ago.

She came into my class two weeks ago, and she looked like she was about to cry. She looked surprised, scared, worried, and I was like, “Hey, what's going on?” She was like, “I think I have to get an MRI.” I was like, “Really, why? What happened?” She was like, “I'm having a lot of pain in my breast.” And I said, “You are?” She said, “Yeah.” I said, “Okay, which one? Is it the same one that you had the lumpectomy, the cancer in?” And she said, “No, it's the other one this time.” I said, “That's interesting. Let's take some deep breaths and let's talk about it.”

I started asking her, “What have you been doing? What have you been up to the last couple of weeks since we last saw each other?” She was like, “I just got back from visiting my mom.” I said, “How did that go?” She's like, “It went good, but I realize we're not as close as I thought we were.” I was like, “Tell me a little bit more about that.” This woman is in her ‘60s. She was like, “Things that I realize from my childhood that weren't what I remember, and I wasn't very close with my dad because I felt like my relationship with my mom impacted that.”

So I asked her which side again was the pain, and she said it was on her right side. The right side is associated with masculine, so dominant male people in our lives. It also has to do with our ability to give. The cancer that she had was on her left side, so that has to do with dominant females and our ability to receive.

I asked her a little bit more about her relationship with her dad, and she told me. So I intuitively felt strongly that this pain that she was having had to do with her lack of relationship with her father and guilt that she was feeling because she wasn't giving him the love that she felt like she should have been giving him.

I had her lie down on her yoga mat and asked her to take some deep breaths and to slowly breathe in and out. I just coached her through a series of questions to help her imagine her dad and her mom, and we went through this little re-parenting ritual where she re-parented her young self with her dad present in her mind.

After we go through this whole course of questions and imagery, I asked her to take a deep breath and let it go and for her to open her eyes. She sat up and looked at me wide-eyed and was like, “That was incredible,” and I said, “Good. How does your breast pain feel now?” She was like, “It's gone. I can't find it at all.” I said, “Awesome. Good work. You did that.” She's like, “Thank you so much.” I was like, “I didn't do anything. You did the work, and you were ready for it.”

Our bodies talk to us. We feel sensations and pains and things like that. It's not happening for no reason. Our bodies are always communicating with us. It's our bodies job to manage what's happening in our environment, so it's constantly managing emotions, food, and things that we're witnessing, seeing, and hearing. So when we feel something, a lot of times we think that our bodies are attacking us or turning on us, and that's just not true. It's our bodies way of communicating with us.

One of my mentors says that the body is the subconscious. We have emotions that get stored in the muscles and tissues and they get released, and it can manifest as pain, digestive issues, anxiety, sweating, or whatever. When we're able to sit quietly and focus in on what we're feeling instead of getting tied away with an imaginary story that we have about what we're feeling, then we can hone in on what it is and allow that energy to move through us and eventually beyond us.

Energy doesn't stop. It always continues. It has to go somewhere, so energy can be released from the body in the form of sweating, crying, vomiting, bowel movements, fevers, things like that. If we're able to quiet our mind and not get stuck in a negative feedback loop or story that we have about what we're feeling, then it can move out of us.

[00:50:22] Ashley James: That is so beautifully said. You reminded me of a client I worked with back in 2005. This was one of my first clients using this technique. My dad was briefly dating this woman, and she was taking pain meds every day. My mom had recently passed away at that time of liver cancer, so my dad was worried that this woman was going to give herself liver cancer taking pain meds every day. And so he said, “Can you work with her?” She was totally willing to work with me. I'm like, “Great.”

So we sat down, and she was a long-distance runner, and she was taking this pain medicine. I asked her, “How long have you been taking them?” She goes, “I think about four or five years.” I'm just asking all kinds of questions, getting deeper and deeper, and the doctors think that it's because she's in her fifties and she's been a long distance runner her whole life. So of course, you've worn your body out, and you have pain because you're fifty.

[00:51:25] Mandy Flanders: I know. I love those excuses that we give ourselves not to face our stuff.

[00:51:31] Ashley James: Right? So having had a background on massage, I said, “Do you mind if I touch your back?” I also worked as a physical therapist assistant. Massage in Canada is a little bit different; I had worked in oncology, palliative care, rehabilitation centers, and hospitals, and so it was more a medical focus than like a spa focus that most people think massage is for.

She lifted the back of her shirt, and I put my hands on her quadratus lumborum, which are the square-shaped muscles on the lower back right above the pelvis. I asked her which side; she said the right. The side that was painful was cold, like no circulation — ice cold and hard as a rock. The whole muscle is holding on.

The other muscle was palpable, soft, had some good tone, and it wasn't having any problems. It's something that I believe Bruce Lipton has talked about, and also in the book Healing Back Pain by Sarno; this idea that when we push down and ignore these emotions — exactly what you're talking about — the unconscious mind will manifest them physically in the form of symptoms that we start to listen. For me, it was the heart palpitations. My body was going, “Hey, we're going in the wrong direction here.” For you, you had other symptoms. For her, it manifested as back pain. For your yoga client, it was manifesting as breast pain.

And so we sat her down, and we did our breakthrough session together, where I started asking her question after question. I eventually uncovered that she had been on these pain meds for twenty years. She had blocked in her mind that she was on these meds. In the beginning, she really thought she had been on them for four or five years. But as we went deeper and deeper, she's like, “Oh, my god. It had been twenty years.”

And so it took us a few hours of digging, but what I uncovered was a story of when she chose to have an abortion. She already had two sons. She was having an affair with a man who was married. She wasn't married, but he was, and he was a politician. She was worried he would ruin his political career. She's a Canadian, so some Canadian politician in Vancouver. His career would have been ruined should it have come out that she was pregnant with his child, and she was a Roman Catholic. Absolutely, this could not happen.

She was telling me the story that as the nurse tried to give her pain meds for the abortion, she said, “No, I have to pay for this in pain.” I nearly fell off my chair. This had been like twenty years ago that she had done this. And I said, “Do you know what you just said?” She said, “What?” I said, “You told yourself you had to pay for the guilt of this abortion,” that she still felt guilty about — “You had to pay for it in pain.” She goes, “No, what I meant was in the moment, I had to feel the pain of the abortion. That would have to be my penance.” I'm like, “You are still feeling it right now.”

Throughout the time, I would ask her, “On a scale of 1 to 10, where is your pain?” When she would feel guilty during talking with me, her pain would be 10 out of 10. I asked her not to be on pain meds and if she could handle it — I'm not a doctor, I can't tell people not to take medication, but I advised her that if she felt in the moment she could, we could help to get to the root. So that's it, we figured it out — the guilt was the root moment. And so we resolved guilt, and her pain went to a zero.

At the end of the session, I said, “Stand up, let me feel your back.” Both sides were warm, and there is heat, and it was palpable. I was blown away. I had learned these things in theory, but to see it work, this is how the body works. Exactly, what you're talking about and what you do with your clients, this is how our brain works. Our brain, our heart, our mind, and our body are interconnected and a lot of physical symptoms, the root will be emotional.

[00:56:09] Mandy Flanders: Yeah, most of it is, I find. When we have things like autoimmune diseases and cancers, that's our body trying to manage our life experiences. Many times, we don't know what to do with these emotions. We don't realize that we're carrying stuff from our early childhood because we think, “I was just a kid,” or we don't even remember a lot of it because we've stuffed it down somewhere. And so we don't realize that there's even anything there that needs to be managed.

And then what can happen is, in our lives, we have these situations because we tend to continue to attract or recreate the situations that happened to us as kids, and so it will just continue to reopen that wound. If we even have an abandonment wound as a kid, you'll continue to recreate this abandonment wounds, either with your boss or with your spouse or significant other or friends. It will just keep reopening that same wound and make it deeper, and deeper, and deeper, until you pay attention to it and address it.

[00:57:20] Ashley James: You also do trauma coaching. Is that something you were certified in, or do you do it based on your own experiences? How do you do trauma coaching?

[00:57:32] Mandy Flanders: Based on my own experiences. I don't even know if that's a legal thing.

[00:57:39] Ashley James: It's okay. There's no licensing body that's going to come after you for calling yourself a trauma coach, but you coach people through healing through trauma.

[00:57:51] Mandy Flanders: Yeah, and I find in the work that I've done pretty much anyone who's diagnosed with an autoimmune disease or cancer, and I'm sure there are exceptions, but the people that I have worked with all have some underlying trauma or traumatic experience or several traumatic experiences that contribute to their physical disease.

[00:58:15] Ashley James: Can you walk us through some steps, or can you elaborate on how we can heal trauma or how you help people heal trauma?

[00:58:29] Mandy Flanders: I find initially especially it's very important to do it with someone else. Healing should have a witness. It's very difficult to heal in isolation, and in fact, I don't know of anybody who can heal in isolation because we're very social creatures. We need that human connection to be able to heal and to be validated too. We need to have somebody who can validate that what we're feeling is real and that what we're feeling is impacting us.

The details of the story don't actually matter, even though our brains love to think that the details do matter, but the details don't. It's more about what we feel about the story. You can have a story of getting yelled at by a parent. Whatever happened, the details are fuzzier, hazy, and those don't matter anyway. It's more about what you felt as a result of being yelled at.

[00:59:30] Ashley James: And that emotion, that's in the present right now.

[00:59:33] Mandy Flanders: Yes, because that emotion we carry it. If it's unresolved, then you continue to carry that. If somebody gets mad at you or yells at you or whatever, that reopens it, and it triggers you more so than it would if you didn't have that wound. If we humans had no wounds at all, we wouldn't have any triggers. There would be nothing to trigger us because we would be like god or angels. We wouldn't have any of those triggers.

[01:00:01] Ashley James: I love that you pointed that out. This kind of healing should be done with someone else. It's when we are in our head that we can go into a very dark place or spiral. It's like we're trying to solve a problem. Einstein said you couldn't solve a problem with the same thing that created it, and so it does take getting out of our heads to get it off our way.

[01:00:32] Mandy Flanders: And into our bodies, too, because the body has the code. The body has that healing code that we need to access because the head is thinking. A lot of times, it's very logical. I find that right brain meditations or right brain therapies are extremely helpful because trauma is stored in the right brain, and the right brain is the creative, imaginative side of the brain. If you can access the trauma that's stored there using guided imagery, transpersonal hypnotherapy or something like that — it doesn't have to be the details but what the feeling is underneath the details — then you can hear whatever that wound is.

You'll still have the trigger, but it won't be debilitating, and it won't be something that takes over your life anymore. It will be like, “Wow, I have this awareness of this thing that I used to feel, and I don't have to get triggered over it anymore.”

[01:01:34] Ashley James: Brilliant. Something you shared on Facebook recently is one of the biggest things that you've changed that has helped your healing journey — to shift the focus on that self-love and to put yourself first. Not putting yourself first in that you are neglecting your children or your husband, or neglecting others. Why is it we always go there? You can't put yourself first because it also means we're neglecting others, but putting the oxygen mask on yourself first means you have the oxygen to help others.

[01:02:10] Mandy Flanders: Yes.

[01:02:10] Ashley James: It's funny because some other listeners posted after your comment saying that they wanted to learn how to do that. How do we start the process of the self-love and putting ourselves first to help us heal?

[01:02:29] Mandy Flanders: As a mother, I find it extremely challenging because there's so much guilt and shame around self-care that our society does not allow for mothers or women, in general, to care for ourselves. We are supposed to have a full-time job, take care of kids full time, take care of the house, manage all these things, grocery shop, cook, clean all these things, so it doesn't leave a lot of time for self-care.

I realized one time, I told my husband, “I think I need a night or two at the house just by myself. In the time that we've lived here, I had never done that before. I was never alone in the house overnight by myself.” So he was going out to a concert and decided to take our kids to his parents' house, and they left, and I waved goodbye, and I walked back inside.

I looked at this empty house, and I just started crying, like bawling crying. It wasn't because I miss them, but I felt so lost. I was in caregiver mode all the time, making sure everybody's needs are met, that finally I have the space to be my self, and I'm like, “What do I do with this? Who am I?” I sat on the couch, and I cried probably for about 30 minutes. It felt really good. It was cathartic.

I just sat there and was like, “What do I want to do?” I had no clue what I wanted to do — not a single inkling of an idea. So I just sat there, and I didn't make any decisions because I didn't want to force myself into something. I was like, I'm just going to sit here until I have something that I decide I want to do.

So then I decided that I wanted to meditate. I went and got my phone and set up this guided meditation area out on our back porch in the nice weather. The sun was shining, and the breeze was blowing. From there, I just continued to choose consciously the next inspired action, the next move that I wanted to make that was focused on me because I find that it's important.

We lose ourselves a lot. Especially in illness and trauma, we don't know who we are. We don't feel safe in our bodies. When we're able to ask ourselves what it is that we actually want, a lot of times we don't even know. That's why sometimes when you're talking with your husband, it's like, “Where do you want to eat? What do you feel like eating tonight?” “Oh, I don't know. Whatever. Anything you want,” because we don't know.

I have found for me, having moments like that where I sit quietly with myself and look inside of what it is that I actually do want or look for what I don't want — a lot of times if you don't know what you do want, you'll know exactly what you don't want, so you can figure out, “No, I don't want those things, so let's narrow down what it is I do want.”

[01:05:36] Ashley James: It's so true.

[01:05:37] Mandy Flanders: Yeah. The more time I spend doing that, the more I'm able to get to know myself, and the more I can create my personalized rituals for self-care and for putting myself first. As a mother, I've noticed, like if I start to get triggered with my kids, it's never my kids that are at fault. They're little kids. They don't know they're not supposed to be asking me the same question ten million times in a row. They want an answer, so yeah, it makes perfect sense to them.

I find, when I'm getting triggered with them, it's because I'm not carving out space for me to get my needs met. It's not anyone else's job to meet my needs except myself. That's a hard concept for people, especially who are married, to grasp because we believe and we've been conditioned to think that our significant others are supposed to make us happy.

Nobody outside of us has that ability or power. It has to come from within ourselves, which is great if people are willing to take that initiative and to look inside and get introspective, but it's a bummer if you're looking for a lot of external validation, support, and help. I remember I told my husband, “I think we might be in a co-dependent relationship.” He was like, “Yeah, of course, we are.” I was like, “Wait, you knew?” He's like, “Yeah.” I said, “Oh, okay. How do we get out of it?”

[01:07:19] Ashley James: That is so funny.

[01:07:20] Mandy Flanders: It's by meeting your own needs. I realized in my healing process too that I was putting so much responsibility for my happiness on him or my kids. It's not their job. It's up to me to make sure that I am getting my needs met.

It might look different. Some days I may not want to get out of bed until nine or ten o'clock, and that's okay. If I'm able to get the support, where I'm able to do that, then that's acceptable. The things that make it unacceptable are how we feel about the needs that we want to have met.

[01:08:01] Ashley James: So if you feel guilty about sleeping in?

[01:08:05] Mandy Flanders: Yeah. I find that guilt or that shame is much worse for us than actually just doing what it is that we want to do, even if it's eating candy or chocolate or whatever. Sometimes, that's okay. If we're choosing consciously what we want, without feeling guilty, then there's nothing to feel guilty about because it's not mindless action. It's like, “I want chocolate right now because I just want it, and so I'm gonna do it.”

[01:08:35] Ashley James: Chocolate isn't that bad if you choose healthy forms of it. I've got this organic vegan dark chocolate with no sugar, sweetened with stevia, definitely high in calories and fat, and okay it's vegetable-based fat, but if I ate three bars of it a day, I definitely would gain weight. I can't have this as a meal. This is the healthiest junk food I can find. This is pretty awesome. I eat it, and I love it, and then I make sure, like you said, do that internal check and make sure you're not carrying around feelings of guilt or shame after you treat yourself because that is way more destructive than having that chocolate once in a while.

[01:09:20] Mandy Flanders: And it gets trapped. So something that could be used for good then turns into poison, and that doesn't help any of us.

[01:09:28] Ashley James: Yeah, that guilt and shame we carry around when we start to put ourselves first, and then that guilt and shame come up and is triggering our stress response. That is damaging to the body, shutting down the immune system, shutting down the body's ability to heal, and that can create physical disease. This is where it's real. The science is there that, long term, if we continue to hold on to guilt and shame every time we do something nice for ourselves, we can manifest disease.

[01:10:04] Mandy Flanders: And then we can develop almost like an allergic reaction to self-care. There's like an energetic component too that when we do something good for ourselves, our body rejects it.

[01:10:19] Ashley James: That's a nice thing.

[01:10:22] Mandy Flanders: I have a friend who was reaching out to me recently saying that whenever he starts to take new supplements, he reacts to it. Intuitively, I started asking questions, and I was like, “Hey, I think you have an allergic reaction to self-care.” He was like, “I have been working on that for so long in therapy.” I said, “Oh, okay. Well, it's manifesting.”

[01:10:54] Ashley James: I've heard that when people get massages. I've heard of people that go get a massage, and then they feel really bad afterward, and I'm like, “Let's go down the list. Do you drink enough water? Do you think your body was processing toxins? When was the last time you took care of yourself and you did something nice for yourself?”

“This was like the first time in twenty years.”

“How did you feel after getting a massage? Do you feel guilty because you weren't with your kids? What's going on?”

[01:11:22] Mandy Flanders: It's so common to feel that way.

[01:11:28] Ashley James: So walk us through it. Break us free from the chains of the stereotypical mom/wife putting everyone first and neglecting your own needs. Let's break through from that. That's an old behavior that no longer serves us. From now on, what are we committed to? What kinds of things can we do day to day? What kind of homework can you give us to begin to put ourselves first in a way that allows us to take of ourselves, so we can take care of those we love?

[01:12:03] Mandy Flanders: I should create a protocol for this. This is a good idea. Awareness, of course, is super important. I think curiosity is important, too — curiosity about our triggers. That doesn't mean that you have to resolve the trigger right then, but when you're feeling triggered, having a child-like curiosity about it, so that instead of allowing yourself to run off with this trigger, you're more able to rein it in. Like, “Wow, this is triggering to me. I'll deal with that later. What do I have to do now to get my needs met and whatever thing is in front of me need met?”

I find too for moms, especially stay-at-home moms, even moms who work outside the home, taking breaks as often as necessary because we are designed to live in a village. We're designed to live with a lot of support. The way that we live is very isolated. We don't have a lot of help unless you have a nanny or somebody coming in to help, which most people don't have that. Making sure that you're giving yourself breaks, even if it's a five-minute break. A lot of times, we don't need as many breaks as we think we do.

So even if it's that you're letting your kids play with a toy or something that they never get to play with, or even if you're letting them watch a TV show for five minutes or a YouTube song or something like that, just giving yourself five minutes every couple of hours to make sure that you're able to check in with yourself and ask yourself, “Is there something that I need right now?”

I like to do it before I have a complete meltdown because, after the fact, it's a lot harder to pick up the pieces than before the fact. The prevention is worth than an ounce of cure in that situation. And then nobody gets hurt feelings because there's not a mom that's angry and yelling at people.

In that time, making sure that you are not on your phone. We get so sucked in to being on a screen when we're taking a break because we think, “I want to zone out. I want to decompress.”

But when we are plugging into the blue eye and to the screen, it's actually worse for the brain than not doing that. I suggest closing the phone, closing the computer, go outside if you can, read a book, journal, do anything that gets you out of your brain and into your body so that you are able to manage those triggers more easily. And then you're not beating yourself up because you've given yourself space to process anything that's come up in the last couple of hours, and anything that may come up in the future.

[01:15:00] Ashley James: I discovered that there are some grocery stores that have cool kid centers where they'll watch your kids for ninety minutes.

[01:15:07] Mandy Flanders: Wow!

[01:15:07] Ashley James: Also the YMCA usually has free WiFi, a lobby or meeting rooms that are comfortable. There are three or four grocery stores in our area that have this. He loves them all, and then usually they'll have a sitting area. We've read books, talked, shopped, done work. We get to have a little bit of a break and decompress, and our son loves it too because he gets to play with kids. Of course, we do outdoors in the park and go for a walk, the regular stuff. But if you need your kid to be locked in a room with toys and supervision for free — amazing. It's been a lifesaver.

[01:15:49] Mandy Flanders: That's so awesome. That's a good point, too. I recently started working out again, and we have 24-Hour Fitness near here. It's such a great gym, and the kid care is so good. You have to clock in with a fingerprint, and they only allow one family in at a time in the room to check out and check in, so that kids don't go home with somebody that's not their parent, which is great. And then I get my break, and I have the energy to work out again, which is so awesome. She gets to play with little kids, and mommy gets to do my thing, which is awesome.

[01:16:33] Ashley James: That's very cool. I like that you brought up that we should take breaks, minimum of five minutes, several times a day. We could take longer breaks, but when we're taking our breaks, do not plug into a screen. It needs to be a time of self-reflection, to ask ourselves, “What is it that I need?” It's okay that we don't know.

I had a similar experience. I had some time alone, and I was all caught up in work and caught up with all my detox protocols. I'm like, “I really don't know what to do with myself right now.” I feel like I'm so used to being busy, there should be something on my to-do list. I felt lost, like, “Who am I? What is life? What is the purpose of life?” All these questions are coming up like, “I have five minutes of nothing to do. I don't know how to handle this.”

So I totally know what you mean. Sometimes we need to sit and do nothing and be with ourselves, reconnect and ground ourselves again instead of avoiding because we're so good at avoiding and being stimulated externally so that we don't start to listen to what's going on inside.

There is a thing that's like Tinder for moms, and I'm swiping down. It's swiping down for no because every single one of them is like, “Let's go drinking.” “Let's go crack open a bottle of wine.” I'm like, “Oh, my god. How many mothers are drinking?” Again, no judgment zone, but why is that it's culturally acceptable to down a bottle of wine a night in order to sleep or cope? I wish it were more culturally acceptable to get a massage, meditate, and journal every night to de-stress and connect with yourself again.

[01:18:37] Mandy Flanders: I agree so much. I feel like in some areas that is starting to shift. It's definitely not the mainstream yet, but I feel like that shift is starting to happen. I ‘m starting to see it. I'm getting more messages from people: “How do I do this? What food should I be eating? How do I not freak out at my kids?”

[01:19:00] Ashley James: I like that you brought up that when your kid asks something five times, and then you explode at them, that is not your kid. It's you and your stress threshold. Your rain barrel is full, and if you do the things — the journaling, the meditation, the walks, the deep breathing, the yoga, all the self-care — then your kid can ask you the same question twenty times, and you're not going to snap at them. It's a litmus test. If you're agitated around your children, that is the sign that your stress levels are too high.

If you could be around your kid and they're their most annoying self, and you're just bursting with joy and love for them, then you know you're doing something right when it comes to managing your stress.

[01:19:47] Mandy Flanders: Exactly. Our kids are so sensitive to what we feel. They're like little sponges. Even if we are not aware that we're stressed, they pick up on it and react as such, which is so interesting, too, because I am often not aware of how I'm feeling, and then I'm like, “Why are my kids acting so crazy?” And then immediately, I'm triggered. I'm like, “I guess there was some underlying upset going on in there that I didn't know was there.”

[01:20:17] Ashley James: Absolutely. You've been painting this picture of your story, and here we are. Your whole family has recovered from black mold in the last two years, which has been quite the journey. It was two years ago that you had this event since you have done this work where the black mold has allowed you to see that healing emotions is just as important as the food we put in us. In some cases, more important because it is at the root of what's going on.

Paint a picture of what's happened since then, since you've been working on healing yourself emotionally. What's been going on in your life and the life of your children? Paint that ‘after' picture.

[01:21:17] Mandy Flanders: Immediately after I started addressing the emotions, my kids' immune systems started to improve, which was a huge shocker for me because I didn't realize how interconnected a mother and her children are until that. I've always known and believed. It's like mothers and kids are so interconnected and intertwined, and we feel everything. But I had not actually witnessed it so clearly as I did then when their immune system started to get better, and they weren't getting sick as often or for as long.

Of course, my energy level has improved. My digestion has improved. My stress levels have decreased dramatically. I used to not feel comfortable in my house alone at night. Now, I don't have any issue with that at all. I feel very safe. I feel safe in my own body. When I have emotions and things that come up to the surface, I feel much more at peace and able to handle it, or able to sit in it and allow it to pass.

My mentor recently said to me, “I guess you're feeling better because I haven't heard from you in a while.” That was a pretty good indication that things are moving in the right direction. I'm able to work out more, which is amazing for me because I wasn't working out for a long time. I am way more patient than I've been. I'm more organized than I've been. Organization is something that I've struggled with my whole life, and I'm finally starting to organize little areas of my life within work and parenting and things like that.

My relationship with my husband has improved dramatically, which is a huge bonus for both of us because I'm not nagging at him expecting him to do things for me that he cannot do because he's not me.

[01:23:26] Ashley James: Sorry, that's hilarious. That's exactly what a guy would say. I get mad at my husband for doing things that I want him to do, but I need to do it. That's funny.

But, yeah, owning your stuff because we so easily will point a finger. We point the finger at our kids, “They're the reason why I'm snapping,” or point the finger at our husbands, “What he did is the reason I am upset.” What we really have is unfulfilled expectations. These are expectations that we created.

We create expectations, and then when people don't fulfill them — they're supposed to be psychic, and they're supposed to know what our expectations are, right?

[01:24:18] Mandy Flanders: Yes.

[01:24:22] Ashley James: Like I expect the groceries to be carried in or whatever. We expect something, and then they don't do it, we get upset. It's our fault that we are upset because we're the ones that created the expectation. And so we need to be better at communicating but also better at owning our stuff and going, “Wait a second, is it everyone else that's ticking me off, or is it me?” I'm the one that choosing to be upset because I'm not taking care of myself. I'm blaming everyone else. I'm stressed out. I'm not taking care of myself because when I do, I feel guilty about it, so I'd rather not take care of myself than blame everyone else for me not taking care of myself.

[01:25:05] Mandy Flanders: And not asking for help. That's another really big one that a lot of people struggle with. We don't want to ask for help because we don't want to burden anybody. We don't want to put anyone out. We don't feel like we deserve it. There's a whole slew of reasons that we don't ask for help, and it's essential in the society.

We have to have help. We can't do this on our own. We have to have somebody who can witness our healing, someone who can take care of our kids while someone else is witnessing our healing; somebody who can give us recipes for cooking, somebody who can be a shoulder to cry on. We need all kinds of support systems in place for us to be thriving members of society.

[01:25:49] Ashley James: How?

[01:25:52] Mandy Flanders: Asking for help, I think.

[01:25:54] Ashley James: Yeah, how? For someone so uncomfortable in asking for help, what are some ways that we can break through and begin to ask for help?

[01:26:07] Mandy Flanders: Starting small. So I guess asking for things that you believe you deserve and then focusing on the things that we believe we deserve. If it's comfortable to ask somebody to hold the door open for you when you have your arms full of stuff, start there. That can be your entryway into asking for more help. If we don't ask for things, we won't get the things that we want, because we're not asking for them.

One thing I'm doing with my kids — they whine about everything because that's their first way of communicating. They whine, and we would meet their needs because that's how it works. They don't know how to speak it. So now when my daughter whines, I look at her and I'm like, “I hear you whining, and I see you look upset. Is there something I can help you with?” She'll go, “I don't know.” I'm like, “What is it because I don't know what you're thinking. I'm not a mind reader. Help me out. Help me to help you.” Sometimes she'll whine some more, and then eventually we'll narrow it down, and she's able to ask, “I need your help. Can you help me with this?”

Start little. We were taught to not ask for help. We're taught to not ask for things. We're taught to be in this co-dependent communication styles where we whine or say, “Oh, man, my pen doesn't work,” hoping that somebody is going to rush in and bring you a new pen.

For me, specifically, when I work to teach my kids to ask for what they need, it teaches me and reminds me that, “Yeah, I'm allowed to ask for what I need to.” Other people are allowed to say no; just because I'm asking for something doesn't mean they have an obligation to give it to me. But I do have a right to ask for what it is that I need or want.

[01:27:57] Ashley James: That's beautiful. I love it. Start small. Start with what you're comfortable, and if you're uncomfortable asking for someone to hold the door open, if you're not comfortable with the small stuff, then there's something to uncover there about deserving it.

My husband and I have been together for eleven years, and I would complain that I'm the only one that cooks. He smiled, and he'd be like, “Why would I cook? Your food is so good.” But recently, I said, “I need you in the kitchen.” He gets there and be like, “What do you need?” I handed him a knife and a cutting board, “You're going to prep these veggies.”

Two hours later, we've made like a week's worth of food together and had a ton of fun. Our son watched us in the kitchen and helped as much as he could. I told him to get his chair. He could stand on it, watch, and throw things in the food processor, that kind of thing. But it was a family event instead of me griping over food which is not healthy. I love cooking by the way, but I was getting into the habit of eating out far too much because I want the break. I want the service — someone else to serve me the food.

Every time we went out, my husband whose vegan would say, “Your food is so much better than anything we can get in any of these restaurants, and then we're walking away having paid fifty dollars that we should not have spent. This food is not healthy. It's not organic.” He starts lecturing me on health. He's like, “You know it's full of round-up. What are we doing? This is probably GMO. There's crappy oil in this food. So why?” I'm like, “It's because no one cooks.” He does the dishes, thank god. This house would have every dish dirty, but I would not do the dishes. I cook; you have to clean.

I've really enjoyed that my husband is so wonderful in that way. It gets old being the only one that cooks. So now he preps with me, and he follows right behind me cleaning and prepping. He has so much fun doing it too, and then he gets to say what goes in the food too. We ended up creating dishes together, and I actually had him look through a recipe book and pick out some recipes. I don't follow recipes, but I follow the general — “Here's an idea of recipes.” I always like to create my own, but he gave some new ideas as to what we could do. It became fun, and I realize how much I had been blaming him and nagging on him when I was giving away my power. I was creating the nagging.

Landmark Education had a program called the Forum, and I've done all of their classes. They say that complaining is a form of domination. It took me years to get it. I was the one in control, even though I was acting like a victim. In this situation, I was not being victimized, but I was acting like a victim, and I was controlling the situation dominating through complaining.

It's just interesting how, when we start to own our power and come back to our power, we get our voice back, and then we can improve the quality of our lives and our relationships because we realized that our complaining and our feelings of being a victim is we set that up. We can create something different by making powerful requests of people for help.

[01:31:40] Mandy Flanders: Yes, exactly right. It's huge to be able to see ourselves clearly in such a way that allows for those kinds of changes and improvements to be made.

[01:31:53] Ashley James: You've brought up so many wonderful tips here today. I feel like we're just getting warmed up.

[01:32:00] Mandy Flanders: I know.

[01:32:03] Ashley James: You had mentioned that you guide your clients through a process where they can begin to do some healing. You said it's not hypnotherapy, but you guide through some imagery. Would you be comfortable with guiding us today through some self-awareness that allows us to start to become curious and see what it is that we need?

[01:32:32] Mandy Flanders: Let me see. It's very intuitively led. I would say first, if you're in a trigger, and you have this feeling of anger coming up, I ask my clients to feel that anger in your body or whatever the emotion is. Just feel in your body and notice where you're feeling it. Notice the sensations that are coming up. And then to explore any other times in the past that you have felt that sensation physically or mentally before.

And then depending on what comes up, just exploring and sitting with that, and I will usually guide them to notice what they're noticing about this other situation. Usually, it's from childhood. And then I encourage them to visit that younger version of themselves as adult them, and to tell them that they're safe. Tell this younger version of you that you are safe, and that you didn't do anything wrong, and that it's not your fault what happened to you. And then usually at that point, there is an awesome feeling of release.

Sometimes for some clients, it takes a little bit of time to get there because that inner child part of them is not feeling ready to come out. They don't feel safe, so we have to find ways to tweak that to where they can feel safe to come out and show us what is going on.

[01:34:36] Ashley James: It's a beautiful process, and it unfolds, but the awareness, as you said, is the first step. As I said, I was so afraid of becoming aware, thinking that there was a lot of dark stuff in me, and what I found is that it's beautiful, that every time something is presented to be released and to learn from, that it ultimately was a beautiful discovery. It shifted into something beautiful. So we have to be willing to take those steps to become self-aware.

[01:35:13] Mandy Flanders: Exactly, because without the awareness, we don't know what to change or what needs healing because we're still in the dark.

[01:35:24] Ashley James: One of your certifications is NES Bioenergetic scans.

[01:35:31] Mandy Flanders: Oh, yeah.

[01:35:32] Ashley James: You haven't really talked about that yet. I'm curious.

[01:35:36] Mandy Flanders: I learned about NES from your show, and I had to some investigating. NES Bioenergetic is amazing. It's a tool that interacts with the body field and can pick up distortions in the body field and lays it out in a format that's easy for us to understand.

Within that, I love looking at the emotions that underlie the physical manifestations, of course. But NES, it shows different shock traumas, and it can show you if you are in an active conflict state, if you're in a chronic conflict state, or if you're entering into a healing resolution of a conflict.

A conflict could be a trauma. It could be shock. It could be something that is conflicting you at that time. It doesn't have to be something so intense, but something that is impacting you energetically. Using that has been a profound tool in working with my clients because it does help access those deeper layers of things that a lot of times people don't know is there.

[01:37:06] Ashley James: Can you share an example or a story of recent success with a client using that system?

[01:37:12] Mandy Flanders: I have a few. There is a man that I was working with recently. He came to me because he suffered a head injury, something really heavy fell on his head.

He came to me, and I looked at his scan and noticed that there was a lot of stuff coming up demonstrating that he was in a chronic conflict state. In using the scan, it gave me an entry point into the underlying traumas. I learned that this man dealt with a lot of abuse in early childhood and became a drug addict very early on with his father. They didn't tell the mother, and then the mother found out that he was doing drugs but not with his father and sent him to rehab.

He had all these different traumas going on, and his father was very physical with him. All of these things were manifesting in his current relationship where he was not very physical, but he would get frustrated easily or felt like his partner was very controlling, or that she was very undermining, or things like that.

So using NES and that kind of guided imagery that I just talked about, we were able to come to a resolution and help him to see that the current triggers in his life had nothing to do with what was going on. We were able to subconsciously link the present triggers to the past triggers, and he has told me that his relationship has changed completely almost overnight. He is much more aware of how he's feeling, and he doesn't put his feelings on his partner anymore. He's able to be more introspective when he's having a trigger. He can pause more. He's learning how to set healthy boundaries. We only had two sessions together.

He's setting these healthy boundaries with her and telling her, “I'm not comfortable talking about that with you. Can we talk about this later?” Things that he would never have felt comfortable saying before, but he would have felt comfortable telling her, “You're so nosy. You're such a nag,” things like that. So he's just communicating in a much more healthy way.

[01:40:00] Ashley James: I love it. When we're feeling defensive, typically we'll lash out. If something they did is uncomfortable, then we'll lash out. I get that we snap at people and we call them names, and we become abusive ourselves when we are very insecure about letting them see something or when we don't know how to protect our boundaries healthily.

That is so interesting. Isn't it amazing when we look at how we interact in our emotions, communication, our relationships? It's sticky and messy, but then when you start to unfold everything, it all makes sense.

[01:40:46] Mandy Flanders: I know. It's such a gift, too. I feel like we have this innate gift within us that a lot of people don't even know is there. We don't realize that we have this ability to explore these things and uncover these things and then ultimately heal them. When I told this man, I said, “This stuff that you're dealing with in your partnership has nothing to do with the present time,” and he was like, “What?” The thought of that blew his mind. He was like, “There's no way. I'm upset with her.” And I'm like, “That's true. What you're feeling is true, but it has very little to do with her. It has everything to do with what happened to you as a kid.”

[01:41:29] Ashley James: Exactly. It's so funny. So you have these wonderful systems. You help people to coach them emotionally, mentally, physically, energetically. You're helping people on all levels. Is there anything else that you want to make sure that you convey to the listeners today?

[01:41:56] Mandy Flanders: Yeah. I believe that everybody is doing their best. Whatever that looks like, it's going to be different for everybody. Just remember that we all come from somewhere. Everybody has a story. We don't end up doing what we do, Ashley, out of just pure passion. There's a reason we stepped into these lines of work, and we all have a story. We all come from somewhere.

If we're able to honor our story, then we can see the stories that other people are living within as well, and we don't have to live from this place of anger, upset, or dysfunction. It can be a lot more holistic, compassionate, understanding and realizing that people are not out to get us. We're all just suffering here together. We're all in this together.

[01:43:05] Ashley James: Exactly. We're all going through our stuff. Remember those perfect girls and perfect guys in high school? When you look at them, you think, “Their lives are so great, and everyone likes them.” We always thought that they were somehow different than us. They didn't have insecurities. They didn't have drama. They didn't have childhood abuse or anything. They were just perfect, and we were broken and flawed. We're weird or whatever. There's nothing wrong with them.

It's just so funny as adults now to go every single one of us, all the ones that we looked up or thought were so perfect, confident, or popular, they all were insecure. They all were vulnerable and worried and had their stuff and did not have it together. We are all like that. We're all worried about what everyone else thinks. Everyone else is this mob, this collective consciousness that judges us, and we're the only ones that are somehow bad and wrong.

It's just really funny that we give away so much of our power like that. When we get that we're all human, that we're all going through the same emotions, we can start to be more gentle with ourselves.

[01:44:25] Mandy Flanders: It's kind of endearing that we think that we're the only ones that are going through something. That's like a little two-year-old. That's our inner two-year-old. That's like, “But what about me? I'm hurting, too.” And that two-year-old probably needs a little hug and attention, and maybe some journaling and meditation and some chocolate.

[01:44:47] Ashley James: Yes. Let's all get the stevia-infused chocolate, my favorite. That's so awesome. Mandy, for listeners who are just in love with you, they can go to your website, mandywellness.com.

Of course, they can join the Learn True Health Facebook group and see you there because you're all over the Facebook group with us, and you have such a wonderful journey. You have an entire lifetime of experience that you bring to helping.

What I love about your healing practice is you're coming from your heart. You really are heart-centered when you work with your clients, so those who are inspired by Mandy should definitely go check out your website, mandywellness.com, and see about working with you.

Is there anything on your website they should make sure that they look at, or should they follow you on social media? Where do you want people to make sure that they go to?

[01:45:49] Mandy Flanders: I'm a lot more active on my social media, on my Instagram and my Facebook page. I'm hoping to change and become more active on my website, but as of right now, my Facebook page, mandywellness, and my Instagram handle is mandy_flanders.

[01:46:11] Ashley James: Awesome. We'll make sure the links to everything you do, including your social media, is in the show notes of today's podcast at learntruehealth.com. You got to go and feed that cat.

[01:46:20] Mandy Flanders: I know. I'm sorry.

[01:46:23] Ashley James: I'm like, “Oh, kitty, kitty, kitty.” I'm such a cat person. That's so funny.

[01:46:28] Mandy Flanders: She's so needy.

[01:46:30] Ashley James: Like all of us.

[01:46:31] Mandy Flanders: I know.

[01:46:32] Ashley James: We all have this inner cat that's just needy inside of us. Talk about metaphors.

Mandy, it's been so much fun having you here today. Thank you so much for coming and sharing with us. I'm sure we're going to have some great questions from the listeners in our Facebook group, and I'd love to have you back.

[01:46:49] Mandy Flanders: Thank you so much. I would love to come back. That would be such an honor. Thank you so much for having me. This was so awesome.

[01:46:56] Ashley James: Are you into optimizing your health? Are you looking to get the best supplements at the lowest price? For high-quality supplements and to talk to someone about what supplements are best for you, go to takeyoursupplements.com, and one of our fantastic true health coaches will help you pick out the right supplements for you that are the highest quality and the best price. That's takeyoursupplements.com. Be sure to ask about free shipping and our awesome referral program.

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Ashley James

Health Coach, Podcast Creator, Homeschooling Mom, Passionate About God & Healing

Ashley James is a Holistic Health Coach, Podcaster, Rapid Anxiety Cessation Expert, and avid Whole Food Plant-Based Home Chef. Since 2005 Ashley has worked with clients to transform their lives as a Master Practitioner and Trainer of Neuro-linguistic Programming.

Her health struggles led her to study under the world’s top holistic doctors, where she reversed her type 2 diabetes, PCOS, infertility, chronic infections, and debilitating adrenal fatigue.

In 2016, Ashley launched her podcast Learn True Health with Ashley James to spread the TRUTH about health and healing. You no longer need to suffer; your body CAN and WILL heal itself when we give it what it needs and stop what is harming it!

The Learn True Health Podcast has been celebrated as one of the top holistic health shows today because of Ashley’s passion for extracting the right information from leading experts and doctors of holistic health and Naturopathic medicine


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