Leaving MCSville: Using real life to retrain my brain

by Julie Genser

Leaving MCSvilleChange happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” ― Tony Robbins

The time had come for me to leave. I moved to the chemically sensitive neighborhood in rural Snowflake, Arizona in June 2008 for a four month trial period and stayed almost five years. The community had provided solace and refuge for me when most other neighborhoods in the U.S. had been tortuous due to my severe chemical and electrical sensitivities. I found a low-EMF, chemical free warehouse-like home built for my sensitivities with high ceilings, a concrete floor, and foiled walls on 40 acres. The space was full of light and incredible rolling views, and its Williamsburg industrial loft aesthetic reminded me of my NYC roots. I felt like a very lucky girl.

But over time, as I slowly healed and my opportunities for life expanded ever so subtly, the chemical free open loft and all the restrictions that came with living in it felt more and more like a cage. This bird’s clipped wings had started to heal and I wanted desperately to fly again. The risk of staying had started to override any risk of leaving. It was time to fly.

I have nothing but gratitude for the brain retraining programs and EFT modalities I had been using for several years in order to heal my environmental intolerances. However, for me, the regimented repetitive nature of these programs began to feel like an obsession in themselves that felt unhealthy to me. I wanted to use real life to retrain my brain. I decided to go to Santa Fe to see if I wanted to move there. My four day trip was life changing.

I stayed at a place that was green-minded, but had WiFi, an active solar system, and a 24/7 fan on its compost toilet. All things that in the past caused unbearable neurological reactions for me. I figured I had done a lot of healing and it was time to reevaluate my triggers. Plus, I had no other options for chemical free overnight accommodation, and I needed to stay for several days if I had any hope of finding a place to move to. I had to take the chance if I truly wanted change in my life.

The first night I got no sleep. The EMFs turned off my sleep center completely. I was a zombie the next day. My instinct was to run. To return home so I wouldn’t have to drive the 6 hours on several days of no sleep. But I needed to stay in order to find a new home. My backup place to stay fell through. I decided to try another night. The second night, I didn’t sleep fully but must’ve dozed because I woke up refreshed, although I felt as though I was conscious all night. The third night, I slept 8 hours straight. This gradual progression over the first three nights was a big miracle breakthrough for me. Wow!!

What I learned on this trip: 1) My body had the ability to adjust to a new environment over time; 2) I could sleep with WiFi, a solar system, and other forms of high EMF radiation; 3) I had healed immensely in the years in Snowflake and no longer had severe neurological reactions to the old triggers; 4) When triggered, my brain still went right into catastrophic thinking and protection mode (e.g., still a lot of retraining work to be done!). Maybe the biggest lesson of all was how important it is to test your boundaries every now and then and reevaluate your limitations, to avoid over-protecting yourself and missing out on the richness of life unnecessarily.

Leaving MCSvilleThat’s all I needed to know. When I returned home, I immediately gave my landlord 30 days notice and announced to my community I was having a moving sale (which I lovingly referred to as my “going-out-of-MCS-business sale”). I sold almost everything I had amassed in the prior years to help me cope with and manage “my illness” – my oxygen tank, my sauna, my metal shelving and furniture, my rebounder, and so much more. The decision to sell everything was solely based on not wanting to put a ton of stuff into storage, but it forced me to focus on and release all attachments to my protective gear (for example, acknowledging that I had not needed to use my oxygen tank in four years, so most likely I would be okay without it). I had a few freak-out moments but overall was able to stay in the light and the positive energy of my choices. I was choosing to live again. This was my rebirth. I finally had come to the point in my life where I truly felt like the butterfly emerging from the cocoon. It was my time to fly.

I am making a conscious choice to turn environmental illness inside out and to surround myself with only positive influences. It’s time to replace the old traumatic memories and experiences with positive, life-embracing ones. The environmental sponge that I am, I will set myself up for abundance and love, and soak up only positive rays of energy and light. My first stop is a beautiful gift to myself: a two week raw food prep class at the Tree of Life. I’ve been aching to do this class for many years. After that I will go back to my nomadic roots and travel around Arizona and New Mexico, spending time in various communities that appeal to me to see which is the best fit for a longer-term relocation. I am very much committed to living a non-toxic, chemical free lifestyle and taking all of my hard earned wisdom with me from my experience with environmental illness, but my emotional/spiritual bodies will be given top priority in the next few years since those are the parts of myself that were not attended to so well in years past. I will continue to share about my life decisions as my story unfolds. To be continued…

Share and enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • email
  • PDF
  • Print

Comments (32)

Sarah in AlbuquerqueApril 28th, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Some of the best retraining is going through an experience and having the knowing you can do it. It’s very empowering on so many levels to be able to look back and say I got through that and I’m ok. (and I’m not saying we need to push ourselves to do these things; you know when it is right.)
I wish you well on your journey.

earthwalkerApril 28th, 2013 at 10:02 pm

So true, Sarah. And thank you for reminding me… to emphasize that I am not telling anyone to sell all their MCS protective gear and leave the safety of their safe home. Each of us must decide for ourselves what kind of life we want to have, what kind of risks we are willing to undertake in order to achieve that, and how ready we are to move forward with those plans. Risks can backfire and we each must take responsibility for our own lives, and make change in our own time, on our own terms. I hope my story can serve as inspiration for others to reevaluate their own boundaries from time to time and stretch the limits of what they think is possible. Sometimes it is our own thoughts that are limiting us and not anything in the real world. Hugs and blessings. xx

kimmergyApril 29th, 2013 at 6:12 am

beautiful recreation Julie…sprinkles of light & love

KathApril 29th, 2013 at 7:40 am

I’m tremendously happy for you as well as proud of you. It only gets better…

earthwalkerApril 29th, 2013 at 9:03 am

Thank you Kimmergy and Kath, so much. xxxx

Christine WeeberApril 29th, 2013 at 10:29 am

Julie, I am on a parallel path in some ways!!! So having goosebumps here, reading about your journey. Thank you for sharing your story. And blessings to you as you explore and soak in all the beauty and light that is *also* here for us.

SyrenaApril 29th, 2013 at 10:45 am

Sooooo happy for you, Julie. Tears of Joy! Syrena

earthwalkerApril 29th, 2013 at 10:56 am

Thank you Christine and Syrena!! xxxx

earthwalkerApril 29th, 2013 at 11:00 am

I just want to publicly thank my mom for being there for me in a big way the past few months as I wrestled with all the decisions I was making and had my moments of anxiety in the midst of dreaming big for myself. My mom was there for me every single day to talk to even if just for 2 minutes. Having her to bounce everything off of was really crucial for me and she is still providing me with immense support as I make huge changes in my day-to-day. Thank you Mom, I couldn’t have done it without you! xxxx

Ruth RuddockApril 29th, 2013 at 11:00 am

Julie, I was thrilled to see your story posted on my Facebook page today…can’t tell you how many times I have pictured all of my belongings in my car and hitting the road! You are an inspiration to me and to so many, I am sure, as we continue to work out our wellbeing through the DNR and other means of healing. Will eagerly await your future posts, and wish you God speed on your journey.

Catherine HollingworthApril 29th, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Julie,
I am so happy for you!! What a journey you have been on, and more to come.

It is often remarkable to me that those who live this life in survival mode, have learned much from a “different” type of University…..the Universe, itself. Our path required us to learn much and we could not have found a school to teach us these lessons. We literally had to walk through them to learn. I, for one, would not have wanted to study this major….and I am so grateful that I did. What blessings there have been, what fabulous people I have met, and how I have come to love the Planet I live on, the air I breathe, water I drink and food I need. My eyes have been opened and I have found my tribe.

Eventually one must graduate from the university. So, to that end, congratulations upon your graduation!!! You will continue to be the beacon for others, no matter where you find yourself.
Namaste,
Catherine

sharmanApril 29th, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Take these broken wings and learn to fly. Godspeed, Juie

PatApril 29th, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Julie – you are wise beyond your years – the very best of good fortune and lots of love for you on your journey!!

KatApril 29th, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Wow .. Julie! Courageous woman.. Look forward to reading your next installment.

And I was relieved to read that I’m not the only one who’s felt this too:

“I have nothing but gratitude for the brain retraining programs and EFT modalities I had been using for several years in order to heal my environmental intolerances. However, for me, the regimented repetitive nature of these programs began to feel like an obsession in themselves that felt unhealthy to me.”

Yep, get that!

earthwalkerApril 29th, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Thanks everyone for your supportive comments!! Appreciate you all, so much!! xxxxx Much love, Julie

kendraApril 30th, 2013 at 7:25 pm

May your journey nourish your life’s purpose and passion.
May joy, understanding, and peace grow and flower
as you expand your roots and wings.
kendra

AmayaMay 1st, 2013 at 8:42 am

Dear Julie,

go for it!!

I understand your words 100% and agree with them all!!

welcome to the other shore where healing is not only possible, it is a reality!!

take it easy and enjoy it!

Amaya-

JenyMay 1st, 2013 at 10:55 pm

So wonderful to read this, Julie! And beautiful words from you, too, Catherine H.

MelissaMay 2nd, 2013 at 12:51 am

I just found this Julie! You go girl! I’m planning something similar this fall. Rudimentary plans so far, but unloading stuff, simplifying, expanding and change. All good stuff. Like you, retraining is taking a while. I’m so grateful for it tho. I look forward to reading more of your adventures in health and thriving. Hugs!

diane ensignMay 3rd, 2013 at 6:47 pm

HI IT’S DIANE IN TUCSON. I DON’T ALLOW MCS TO STOP ME FROM ENJOYING THIS AREA AS I GO TO A GREAT CHURCH & different functions ever since learning to control flight & fight PST reactions years ago . I just take care not to be stupid & be around chemicals or mold. If you are interested my apt. space is for rent now with it’s own bath/kit & some furniture & use of my salt water pool on 1 acre. It’s the end part of my home but separate & private. My neighbors are very nice & there is great walking & clean air here as I’m in the foothills at the base of the Catalina Mtn’s. Some wood smoke at Christmas & rare whiff of dryer sheets. Call me if you’re interested or you know someone capable of caring for themselves as I can’t take any more severe cases as I have always done in the past. (520) 8257273

MollyMay 20th, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Excited for you and it helped me process a little of what I did – though in not such an elegant and thoughtful way… I’m more of a ‘that’s enough of this crap’ kind-of gal :) But I think you are going to be amazed at how well you do, and that even though things may set you back at times and illness issues surface like they do for all of us (even normal folks!) you are going to be focusing on ‘goals’ not ‘healing’ 24/7 non-stop which is what really helped me move forward after my bad intro phase (was fortunate to get help/healing as you did that helped me clear to a more normal state).

Can’t wait to hear more of your journey and the exciting things to come, thanks for your efforts with Planet Thrive… it’s a wonderful resource and will refer it to anyone who may find it useful. best, Molly

CorkyJune 1st, 2013 at 2:58 pm

So glad for all you have achieved for your health!!!

BrendaJune 6th, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Dear Julie,

It is truly a delight to hear of your progress. It is a very remarkable life when, even though stripped almost bare, one can help and support others the way you have done , and I hope your journey becomes ever richer. Wishing you lots of good luck ( which always helps ! ).

Brenda

JulieJune 9th, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Thank you so much everyone, for your kind words and loving support. It warms my heart so deeply to have my community show up for me here. Although I’ve been super isolated these past many years, I always feel embraced by you all and that makes all the difference!! Much love to each and every one of you reading about my journey today. xxx

MokihanaJune 13th, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Dear Julie,
I am once again inspired by your example of a woman fully being. Your courage is undeniable and then there is application. How beautiful is the canvas of your life. We share the traveller genes with you though we are parked, and send you loving winds as you find your next best place. You have filled so many cups, no doubt someone will fill yours too. Bon voyage.
Much aloha,
Mokihana

susanAugust 21st, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Whoohoo, whoohooo, whoohoo!!!!! I’m dancing with you, I’m dancing with you!
Love and light and grand adventure.
Susan

eioutreachSeptember 2nd, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Even through the midst of your years of struggle with this illness, you still managed to create this beautiful site for people to share and enjoy. Thank you for contributing such an important tool and gift to people all over the world. Best of luck in your new adventures!

KellyOctober 19th, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Julie, I’m intrigued by your statement “Sometimes it is our own thoughts that are limiting us and not anything in the real world.”

I agree with you, but of course to some this kind of statement will suggest to some that you’re saying “it’s all in your head”. I’m guessing that you mean maybe something along the likes of it’s in our heads and our bodies, after all, our head (mind) is connected to our body.

Or, how about this analogy — the famous ‘pavlov dogs’ experiement — where every time a bell was rung, the dogs began to salivate whether food was presented to them or not. Are you saying that after some traumas, especially repeated traumas…that one can go into this automatic subconcious reaction whether the offending substance or trauma or circumstance is benign or not.

Is that kind of what you’re trying to say by the statement I quoted?

JulieOctober 30th, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Hi Kelly,
I was not commenting on MCS in so much as adaptive behaviors that can come when one experiences trauma, especially with an illness like MCS that causes severe reactions to every day products and activities. Sometimes we can adapt a very restrictive lifestyle to shield ourselves from the symptoms we experience from the real world. My comment “Sometimes it is our own thoughts that are limiting us and not anything in the real world” really refers to the fact that I kept myself very isolated for years, but who knows at what point I would have been able to be okay in situations that previously caused severe symptoms. So my point was only to caution people from being too protective. If you are doing a brain retraining program, you can test your limits from time to time to see if your symptoms have abated or are less severe. Not sure if I am explaining it right. But obviously I did not mean that MCS is all in one’s head. It’s a very real syndrome with serious health consequences.

ellen rosnerMay 1st, 2014 at 5:38 am

Julie: Beautiful! I’m so happy for you.

[…] Leaving MCSville Using Real Life to Retrain my Brain […]

Mary HillJune 9th, 2014 at 8:23 am

Julie congratulations and I hope you are enjoying your raw foods class. Thanks for founding Planet Thrive and supporting the amygdala retraining site as well. I completed Gupta’s webinar, have done some homeopathy for mold allergies and some other modalities for anxiety and PTSD.
I was able to stay in Portland, OR because I purchased a different home with much more light and near the top of a hill so lots of fresh air.
I am leaving for my old favorite hotel on the Oregon Coast tomorrow for two nights to celebrate my birthday. This is a big step towards freedom for me.
I have been meaning to write on the brain retraining sight about my own recovery but haven’t. It’s personal, humbling, and unique for each person .
Best wishes to you and enjoy your time looking for a new place to call home.
Mary Hill, Portland, OR

Leave a comment

Your comment