Thoughts About Freedom

freedom, heal

Dear One,

In the season of the United States’ Independence Day, I find myself reflecting on the meaning of freedom.

Even as a little girl I found myself confused by the words of the Star-Spangled Banner, written during the War of 1812—the “second war of independence” from the British—later becoming our national anthem and theme song of our independence and patriotism. To my young mind…

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We are our narratives: from medicine to white supremacy

cultural narratives, white supremacy, all is one

Dear One,

You know me as a physician and scholar of the cultural narratives that define what medicine is today. I’m fascinated by how the way medicine is practiced in America is profoundly influenced by dominant narratives about science, the human body, disease, gender, sexuality, race, and what we believe about our futures.

I’ve come to realize that it’s all narrative. Everything we think we…

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How to Heal Ourselves from the COVID-19 Pandemic

biodiversity, heal, resilience

Dear One,

Can we be honest with each other? Here in this space where it’s safe to do so?

The virus isn’t our problem.

There. I’ve said it.

I’ll say it again. The virus is not our problem. It never was. And until we get this through our fearful heads, looking for the simple story and simple solutions, we’re going to remain in a world of hurt. And tragedy. And sorrow. And it’s all so…

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From Fixed to Fierce: How to Survive a Pandemic

breathe, soften, stay curious, heal, karyn shanks md

Dear One,

I don’t know about you, but I’m ditching all social media and news forever! And maybe all casual conversation with strangers while I’m at it. Have you ever heard so many locked down stories in your life? How things are. How we should behave. What must happen. Yada, yada. I’m sick of it.

You’re absolutely right—I’m being triggered. And that’s about me, isn’t it?

So, I pull out my…

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COVID-19 Lessons

Dear One,

In recent conversations with good friends—smart and worldly friends—I realized how uncertain and scared many of them are about the COVID-19 pandemic. More than I expected.

Like, what it is. How it affects us—really. Why we are responding as we are. What we can do to protect ourselves and others. How we safely move forward with our lives.

I’ve heard remarks like, “I didn’t think…

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How to Work With the Grief of Change

strong, heal, karyn shanks md

Dear One,

“You’ll never get people to change.”

“It’ll bring down the whole economy.”

“People aren’t ready for it—they’re too much in crisis mode.”

“You’re too idealistic.”

What are they talking about?

This is the flack I’ve been getting for speaking out about what we’re called to do. How the pandemic and the suffering it’s brought is illuminating our weaknesses (it’s blinding!). How…

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How to Create Resilience: Adaptability, Energy, and Strength for Life

Heal, Karyn Shanks MD, The Nine Domains of Healing, Healing Roadmap

Dear One,

First, we survive.

Then we step back and ask, what am I called to do next?

And we realize, we knew it all along, didn’t we?

We knew where our reverent care of ourselves was taking us.


And we know in our guts—This. Is. Our. Call.

Survival First

The global pandemic of COVID-19 is one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced—personally and collectively—in any of our…

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COVID-19: How to Protect Your Whole Self in a Global Pandemic

self-care, heal

We’re smack in the middle of a global viral pandemic (COVID-19) unlike anything most of us have ever lived through. It’s a stark and sudden reality. We’re isolating ourselves and taking precautions. And we’re scared.

What else can we do? What else should we do? How do we take care of our whole selves?

Right now, protection has two dimensions:

  • Physical protection: both for ourselves and…

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COVID-19: How to Bolster a Healing Life While Navigating a Storm.

We’re in the eye of the storm, aren’t we?

Never have we been called to navigate our safety and survival with so much uncertainty. We’re scared. Many of us are wondering what’s best to do to stay safe, to remain strong, and to thrive in the face of it all.

These are my top ten recommendations for navigating—and thriving—through the storm of a global pandemic.

One: Practice Safety

First and…

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How to Get Unstuck

self love, self-love, get unstuck, heal,

Sometimes we work so hard and keep showing up and still aren’t where we want to be.

Take my client, Grace, for instance.

She’s been sick for twenty-five years, mostly without a diagnosis. (And, to be fair, we still don’t have “a diagnosis,” we’ve got a chronic problem that’s created a wide path of destruction—it’s no longer “a diagnosis” but a constellation of dysfunctions, all needing our…

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