Shift of Temperature

The heat has been oppressive and sometimes it feels like it’s all you can do just to make it through the day. And if you or your loved one is in treatment for cancer, the stress and fatigue can magnify.

Recently, I listened to a podcast about the comparison trap and how we often measure our success, happiness, or status by seeing how we compare to others. 

Is she still working through treatment and I’m not? Should I be on a vegan diet like certain influencers? Am I living my best life and enjoying every moment like the people I follow on social media who also have cancer?

Comparison isn’t always bad. It can be a tool for growth where you get new ideas, learn new skills, or access resources.


But  it can also create misery, depending on whether you can hold onto your own worthiness no matter what it looks like others are doing and enjoying.

One takeaway for me was how as humans we have always needed one another to survive, but also how painful it can be when you don’t feel like you belong somewhere.  

The amygdala, the primitive brain of fight/flight/freeze in response to perceived threat, gets so activated that you can end up in a state of constant anxiety and stress, even during the phases or moments in life where there is a break from difficulty.

A cancer diagnosis creates a fight/flight/freeze response in everyone it affects, from the patient to loved ones, doctors, or acquaintances.

The fight/flight/freeze response is automatic but you don’t want to get stuck there.

Last weekend, my JoyBoots Inner Circle Group, that has been meeting for years, got together for our first in person retreat.  Talk about having so many activities that helped us relax out of fight/flight, stress, and anxiety!

We enjoyed the first bit of beautiful weather for practicing yoga and meditation outside, swimming, and looking at the stars.  Our view was bucolic country farms and we breathed in the peaceful natural beauty and sounds. Our delicious, healthy meals were beautifully prepared and served.

We shared our feelings and goals, tears and memories. We acknowledged our weariness. We left with greater tenderness for one another and for ourselves.

We felt safe and nurtured and, I believe, a sense of belonging and understanding.

These are the rare antidotes to chronic stress, especially among cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers.

What are the ways you are showing tenderness this week, especially towards yourself? Can you reach out for more support if needed?

Real Healing Requires Community

“The reality is things may never be exactly the same. Be honest with yourself about what you are feeling and find community who allow you to show up just as you are” from the Healing Well Course.

This Wednesday on June 21, 2023 we have the last JoyBoots Yoga class of the summer. It’s been such a pleasure to reconnect with so many old friends and to meet new ones as well.

I will be away June 26-July 24, 2023.  After the summer break, that’s when you can count on our weekly class continuing…

JoyBoots Yoga is unique in that we address, experientially through our practices, some of the more challenging aspects of living with cancer or after treatment.  These are:

  • feeling gripped by fear (of recurrence, physical pain, our own mortality)
  • negative circular thinking that can’t be easily stopped
  • tension and stress you hold in your body
  • anger you pretend not to have (that comes out inadvertently)
  • desire to understand yourself and your precious path forward so you can make meaning of life
  • chance to deeply breathe and strengthen your relaxation response
  • feel more grounded and emotionally balanced

Being able to show up just as you are to find a seat for you at the table helps heal loneliness and isolation.

It’s hard to heal emotionally when you feel alone.

I’m excited to bring a variety of JoyBoots programs forward beginning the end of August.

My online therapeutic course, Healing Well: Reconnect to your Life After Cancer starts in September 2023 and will be available to take at your own pace.

By request, we will also have some In Person Workshop and Meet Up Opportunities beginning in the fall as well.

Please join the JoyBoots Community (free) or email me at for more information or for an individual session.

Stay Cool this Summer!

Attitude of Gratitude

Carmen expresses gratitude and appreciation so readily, for her friends, for our Wednesday yoga class, for each day. She can be found taking the bus around town and sharing her spiritual depth and wisdom with others.

Share a little bit about yourself: I was born in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. I arrived in Austin, shortly before I turned 29. My hobbies are reading, writing, listening to music and taking walks in the park.

Share a little bit about your cancer experience. It was overwhelming! Until now I can’t explain how I could get ahead of such experience. I have no doubt that there is a Superior Force that watches over all of us! Cancer was a life teacher for me. My perspective of the things has changed for good, and also brought me many blessings. One of them, is that it has given me the opportunity to meet wonderful people who I otherwise would never have dreamed of knowing. From that time, I only remember the love I received!!

How has it benefited you to be part of the Joyboots community? A lot! The first yoga class in my whole life was the first class I had with Kelly, one week after I finished the medical treatments; and for me it was like an oasis after the storm.

What is your meditation practice like? I meditate in silence at least 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week. One day I do guided meditation for 25 minutes and on Sundays I do one hour of silence meditation.

How has yoga and meditation benefited you? To live in the Here & Now, focus on conscious breathing, calm anxiety & stress and above all, to understand that the health of my body depends on my emotional & spiritual balance.

What practices have benefited you the most? Yoga, meditation, Pilates, weights and walking. They complement one another.

What are you still struggling to cope with? My emotions!

What brings you moments of joy? Learning something new every day, watching the sunrise every morning, hearing my favorite song, meeting new people and counting my blessings.

What is something you’d like to share with the community to help them along their healing journey? Nobody is alone. We are all in this together.

WILD CARD: What is your favorite saying, quote or personal motto?


If you wish to connect with Carmen, you may connect with her through email at





New Yoga and Talk Series Featuring Joybooters!

with Linda Griesel

The Yoga & Talk series features Joybooter stories and words of encouragement to nurture, heal and inspire— and in doing so, helps us to get to know one another, stay connected and to remind us that we are never alone in our healing journeys.

Share a little bit about yourself.
I am an Air Force brat who settled in Austin in 1988.  31 years! My husband and I share Austin with our daughter, son, and a semi-obedient Airedale Terrier named Beau.  I’ve worked as an attorney – mainly as an advocate for abused women and children.  I’ve also worked as a special-ed and substitute teacher, caterer, and volunteered throughout my children’s educations – as well as caretaking my parents.

Yoga and meditation are centering parts of my day.  I also belong to 2 book groups, binge-watch lots of Netflix, and like spending time with my friends doing all of these things.

Share a little bit about your cancer experience.
Before I was diagnosed, I learned about cancer from my mother who was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer in the bad-old-days of treatment, 1973.  I learned how to LIVE with cancer by watching her as a survivor for 35 years.

In July 2014, I was told I had II-B Invasive Breast Cancer. After treatment (slash/poison/burn), I was left with familiar side effects including Lymphedema, Chemo-Brain, and the inability to continue with the prescribed Aromatase Inhibitors.

How has it benefited you to be part of the Joyboots community?
The Joyboots Community are my TRIBE.  I didn’t know I was looking for (or needed) a support group the first time I tried out the Weekly Wellness Warrior Group (you know, Cancer Yoga).  When Kelly explained to a group of cancer survivors the concept of Sat Nam – that we could make room for our own true selves – I was hooked.  She built a group that accepts each other as we are right now.  In the five years since my diagnosis, the group’s kind and generous spirit and Kelly’s wise and graceful teachings have seen me through.

I saw my mother be a true leader and builder of her cancer support community.  She connected people together with acceptance of where they were in their experience.  Even without the benefit of yoga in 1970’s Wichita Falls, she helped a  huge number of survivors find the room for their true selves.  I’m fiercely proud of the Tribe she built and hope I can be a connector, too.

What is your meditation practice like?
Some days, I simply repeat Sat Nam on a repeating loop. Other days I use Kelly’s Joyboots website for a variety of great meditation ideas. Add self-guided meditation Apps, and of course, yoga practice.

How has yoga and meditation benefited you?
I learned how to breathe.  It allows me to realize that moments of joy and contentment can erupt and it has given me the tools to recognize and appreciate them.

What practices have benefitted you the most?
The Weekly Warrior Practice with my Tribe.  At the start of each class, Kelly has us listen for and identify 3 sounds. When I hear the breath of my Tribe, focused in our work, settling into practice – that to me is the most joyful sound.

What are you still struggling to cope with?
Like everyone, life! I think that’s what surviving means.  How are we going to live our lives faced with the uncertain and burdened by the past?  I feel that Kundalini has given me tools to use everyday to move forward.

What brings you moments of joy?
Being able to choose to live in the moment, being able to practice gratitude, and putting both those concepts into practice with my loved ones.  And a good glass of wine.

What is something you’d like to share with the community to help them along their healing journey?
I have a friend who said “we’ve all been broken at times and we will be again.  It helps us reach out to hold onto each other.”

To be a supportive member of my Tribe, it helps me to look for inspiration, not obligation, to find my true self and to find moments of joy.

Sat Nam.

If you wish to connect with Linda, you may send her an email at

Connecting and the JoyBoots Community

From the moment you are born, you need others to survive and thrive. Community lifts you up when you are feeling low.  And emotional isolation at a crucial time can be devastating, making a difficult situation feel even more traumatic. We all need community.  Even those of us who are introverts by nature or who have an independent spirit.

Community sustained me when I went through cancer the first time.  My baby daughter was 2 months old and I was still on a learning curve as a first time mom, sleep deprived, terrified, and furious that my life with my daughter was being hijacked by an urgent need for unwelcome treatments.

Friends brought food and offered a listening ear.  Some could connect in spite of my pain and share their own challenges and there were no obstacles to our maintaining friendships. Maria Elena, a yoga friend I met while teaching a program volunteered to help me with my daughter and became our full-time nanny, life saver, and a person very dear to our family and my heart.

As many of you know, I’ve been revisiting the cancer experience personally, this time as a caregiver to my husband. As he continues treatment for colon cancer, I’m aware of how essential community is to me and how hard it can be to ask for help and accept limitations.

One way I’ve felt sustained by community is connecting with the members of my Wednesday Wellness Warriors yoga class, co-sponsored by Capital of Texas Team Survivor.  After a temporary re-location over the summer, we have recently returned to South Austin, in the lovely FlowYoga studio in the Westgate Center.

I’m energized by the enthusiasm and commitment of this group and the way they show up for themselves and each other.  I love how large the class is and how many different cancer experiences and stages are represented by this group of smart, caring, capable women, each open to healing in her own way.

I love my connections with the Joybooter community, a fierce and fascinating group of women.  Knowing the backstories of so many inspiring women gave me the idea to begin a new series to share some of their wisdom and experience with the larger group.

Stay tuned…

The Thaw


Photo by Amy Hanley on Unsplash
Photo by Amy Hanley on Unsplash

The days seemed endless, and Michele marked them off in her calendar like a prisoner records days of a long sentence on the wall. Six months of weekly chemo followed by 6 months of infusions every few weeks. In between, there was surgery and radiation. She resisted anything slowing down her progress. She focused on the day she was declared free of the cancer and free to get her life back.

At the end of active treatment, little things that used to annoy her, barely registered. She had more perspective about what is important: family, health, showing compassion for herself and others.

Michele survived emotionally with positive affirmations and faith, and by sheer grit: grinning and bearing it. To assuage the worry and fear of others, she often appeared cheerful, squelching pain, disappointment, grief and anger.

In the months following the end of treatment, she begins to feel easily irritated, fatigued and emotional. She has trouble containing her feelings, and they erupt in a flash of anger or tears at inopportune moments. She’s hard on herself for lacking gratitude. She worries her lack of positivity will bring the cancer back.

Michele is not alone! In my Yoga and Talk® Groups and Classes for Cancer Survivors, I see this phase of recovery often and I call it “the thaw.”

The thaw can occur anytime during or after treatment and is hard to predict.

The shock and emotional numbness that offered (unconscious) protection from the trauma begins to wear off, often unevenly. Sometimes, you feel positive and grateful, other times the future seems plagued with danger and endless fear of recurrence. Effort can feel meaningless, your feelings raw or simmering below the surface.

You know how when your foot falls asleep and then you try to walk and you have to take your time and it’s awkward and uncomfortable? The emotional thaw is similar in that you have to take your time and people may need to wait.

While it can be deeply unsettling, in my experience, it’s also a signal that you are ready for emotional healing.

As your heart thaws and you come to terms with the reality of what happened to you, give yourself as much permission as possible to rest and allow the sensations and feelings to emerge, be understood and healed.

Here are a few ways to be kind to yourself during the thaw:

  1. Know that tears are the body and mind’s way of cleansing. It’s a way of integrating your experience, so the thought and feeling are not separated inside you.  If you need to cry, cry until the tears are gone for the moment. Don’t try to stop the tears. Stay with the feeling.  It won’t last forever. Michele recently told me that she lets herself cry in the house, car, and shower.  When the tears come, she welcomes them and tries to squeeze every last one out.  Sometimes people cry in yoga class or in my groups and because they are in public, they try to turn it off and feel embarrassed. At least in my classes, I say bring it on – it’s a sign that you are cleansing and integrating.
  2. Find ways to discharge grief and anger physically, through exercise or art.
  3. Vent to a trusted friend or support group. Be willing to name what you are actually feeling and be heard. If someone can’t be there for you, don’t blame yourself. But look for others who can be present even when you are sad or angry.
  4. Seek out a therapist to help you piece together the cancer experience in the context of your life. Is there unresolved prior trauma that has been triggered and now needs healing as well? Do you need help sorting through complex relationships?
  5. If you can’t stop crying or raging, and I mean 24/7, not just allowing the tears to flow, or if you are not sleeping at all, PLEASE see a therapist or doctor.  There is much support to be gained.
  6. Look for community where you can show up exactly as you are in this moment, transformed. Both the same and different from how you were before cancer.
  7. Get bodywork – massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, yoga. Your experience has been stored in your body and will benefit from gentle care.

It’s messy to thaw out and more than a little painful.  But to gain vitality and wellness, the thaw is essential. Grief and anger must be felt, not stuffed inside or disowned, only to leak out or keep you numb.  And you must be supported in this process-don’t isolate.

Deeper emotional healing, truer relationships, and re-connecting with the pulse of your life is on the other side.

Over the next 6 months, I’m going to focus on the Role of Emotions in Healing. I hope you will join the conversation by leaving me a comment on the website about your experience with the thaw and questions about feelings and cancer and how they relate.