This has to be one of the most powerful "Everyday Goddesses" yet. I can't think of a better introduction to Brandy than her own words.
Tell us who you are.
The “impressive” version:
I was a real go-getter, graduated from the Honors College at Loyola Marymount University and then graduated as the Salutatorian when I got my Doctor of Chiropractic degree. I always went all out (newspaper Editor, 4 jobs, finish all requirements early, win scholarships, world travel), I taught others, I made money quickly, I owned multiple homes. I was a professional speaker and business coach. I developed the world’s first visual personality profiling system which was published by McGraw-Hill, New York.
The “victim” version:
Childhood trauma, drama and abandonment which greatly impacted my life. Multiple car accidents, head trauma, health issues that have plagued my adult years and at times been life threatening. Became a single mother when my daughter was a baby after dealing with a difficult ex that kept me in court for over 8 years. Multiple experiences of being “permanently” disabled and financially ruined only to have to rise up (again)...
The “real” version:
It’s all true. Life has been complicated. I’m a different person now and I’m the person I think I was always meant to be. I’m an introvert but was taught to live an extroverted life which I did for many years. You can only deny who you are for so long before something breaks. After life shredded me I had the opportunity to completely surrender and to unapologetically live as me. I’m a sensitive soul, I care deeply, my needs are simple and now I know peace.
What is your "story?" What led you to become the person you are today?
Lots of twists and turns but the one that ultimately leveled me happened when I least expected it. I thought I had finally figured it out and was operating a very successful business, I had a large community of friends and colleagues, I was happy in my relationships, I won awards, published a book, traveled, my daughter and I were very close...and then “out of nowhere” I woke up terribly depressed. It didn’t go away, it was very alarming and I had a lot to lose. I did everything the doctors suggested and I just got sicker and sicker to the point where I couldn’t function. I had to close my business, move my daughter and I in with my mom and I withdrew and isolated from everyone I knew. Financially I lost it all.
I wasn’t someone who had struggled with depression and I had never been suicidal but I was tortured with those thoughts screaming in my head every day, all day long for 18 months. It’s amazing I survived and it’s not a condition I would wish on anyone, it’s absolutely terrible. I’m devoted to my daughter, I’m a very practical person and something is very wrong when your brain tells you that the best, most logical choice is to die.
The illness made me into someone I had never been before - an insecure, terrified person scared to interact with people or leave the house. I was told I’d always be sick and went to the hospital every 3 weeks for an immunoglobulin infusion that cost my insurance $600k per year. Life sucked.
The recovery allowed me to be the person I was always meant to be - I HAD to take care of myself first. And once I started doing that and getting strong, I was able to really take care of my daughter and help her through her difficult time (middle school!). We continue to heal together.
It took me 3 years of in-depth research, countless doctors and going back to get training in nutrition and functional medicine that allowed me to heal and finally get the answers as to why I got sick to begin with and how to treat it. It’s a long story, but the short version is it was from a virus and a cascade of actions that destroyed my gut, my immune system, my mental health, my hormonal and thyroid functions...talk about a complete system reset!
Although I’m still in healing mode, today I’m prescription-free, I no longer go to the hospital, I look and feel healthier, I now help others in their healing journey and most important - I’ve taught my daughter the importance of self-care, self-love, good nutrition and we are closer than ever. She told me this year, “Xena is my fantasy hero. You are my real-life hero.”
What role has yoga played in your journey?
When I was living that Type A life I couldn’t do yoga. I couldn’t get still and actually fled the room when I tried to take a class declaring there was “no way I would hang out with these hippies.” Little did I know I had an inner hippie just waiting to be freed...
During my illness I limped into a yoga class and tried to disappear into the back wall. I was heavy, out-of-shape, my face was covered in terrible cystic acne from the hormonal imbalances and I was certain if anyone knew how sick I was they’d ask me to leave. I was still going to the hospital regularly at the time.
I went to Yoga every single day for the first 25 days. I even got up and went to the 6 am class M-F. It was life-saving!
Yoga helped me to reconnect to this body that needed some love. Although I was never a “self-love” person, more of a “doer”, when I was sick and depressed I experienced cruel self-loathing and self-hatred. That’s a hard place to heal from.
As yoga helped me to connect my body and my mind it really opened up so many healing paths for me. I took risks and massive leaps-of-faith in my healing process, seeing good doctors I couldn’t afford but just “going for it”, I started doing more self-care practices and treating that as my “job”, I changed my diet, I lost weight, I made spiritual connections and I started making personal connections.
One of my favorite practices is Yin Yoga. It was in one of those classes that I had the brainstorm for my current business name, “Body Love Cafe”. I saw the whole thing in that Yoga class. It was a beautiful vision, completely different than anything I ever done before, and in that practice I’m very raw, real and I’m dedicated to helping others in a completely new way. I love it!
How do you view strength?
I only knew the “make it happen” kind of strength where you push and pull.
Then,life taught me that there is strength in surrender, acceptance, vulnerability, and emotion...I used to hate those words!
But, living them has brought me peace. I don’t have anything to prove, I have no idea what the future will hold (I’m done trying to control it!), and I really, truly know that ultimately everything will be ok and I can trust that life will unfold without me having to hold on too tightly. For me, this is strength. Daring to be me in all my flaws while giving myself the love and nurturing I always longed for.
How would you describe the fearlessly authentic you?
Well, I persevere and I can now trust that in myself. Sometimes I may seem fearless but it’s fake if someone thinks that about me. Along with all the great things I experience, I still have episodes of fear, doubt, anxiety, irritability...but I no longer deny these feelings, I don’t stuff them down and I no longer fear them. They pass.
Of course, I love the feelings of joy, excitement, lightness, connectedness...but I’ve come to realize and accept that as a sensitive person I’ll get the opportunity to experience a range of emotions and I don’t have to apologize for them. Giving myself that freedom also allows me to give others that freedom and I’m far more accepting and loving toward others because of it. I make sure my friends and my patients don’t put me on a pedestal. We are all in this wonderful and messy life together, all deeply flawed and just doing the best we can moment-to-moment and hopefully helping one another. When I was sick I learned the importance of never basing your identity on anything that can be taken away from you, it has to come from inside - it’s the only thing you can not lose. With that in mind, what else is there really, except to be in the moment and lift up the person next to you?
That’s my authentic truth.
Brandy runs a functional health and nutrition practice in the East Bay of California. Check out Body Love Cafe here.