Navigating Wellness: A Personal Journey of Self-Care and Intentional Living - Newsletter #4

inspiration linkedin newsletter Jan 25, 2024
Maven Musings with Heather Cook Newsletter Cover

Welcome to Maven Musings! I'm thrilled to connect with you.  Biweekly, we’ll discuss Global inclusivity, technology, women’s empowerment, and workplace positivity,  through my unique and joyful lens. Join me on a journey of inspiration, positivity, and creativity.

If this is our first meeting, you can learn more about me and my work here. 

When speaking at tech conferences, I usually talk about wellness, diversity and inclusion, and work-life balance. I often talk about time and good health being things we don’t get back. To whom we give our time and energy is something to pay attention to, as there are people who invigorate us and those who are time and energy vampires who will take all you will give.


Taking care of ourselves physically, spiritually, and emotionally is a gift we give to ourselves and the other people in our lives. And don’t we often put ourselves last, especially women?

How do we have boundaries and still be kind, loving, and helpful people?


With intention and attention to ourselves.


I have been told I am like the Energizer Bunny, the one from the commercials that keeps going and going—both a compliment and a misnomer. I, too, need to unplug and recharge myself, especially after being onsite at a conference, leading a big project, assisting on a project launch, dealing with a stressful life moment, and sometimes even after a vacation.


Giving yourself a Bunny “Yoohoo” assessment daily, weekly, or monthly requires very little. Some simple intentions about checking in with yourself could make all the difference.


Ask yourself - how are you feeling? Are you crashing the symbols at a solid rate, or can you barely get them to touch?


I think of saying “yoohoo” to the bunny in me to stop it in its tracks as it makes me smile and helps me remember to assess where I am and if I need some downtime or quiet time or if I’m good and doing my thing. Plus, the word ‘yoohoo’ is fun to say out loud.


I often talk of the four D’s - depression, divorce, death, and disease.

13 years ago, I grew nodules in my thyroid, which explained a bit about my struggles with my weight. I had surgery to have the right lobe or one-half of my thyroid removed. The nodules were benign, thank goodness, but it meant I would take a pill in the morning every day for the rest of my life. Not the worst thing, so you carry on. Luckily, my energy levels were pretty much the same with the help of thyroid replacement medicine.


I am not a doctor, nor do I currently play one on TV, but I believe wholeheartedly that stress, depression, relationship issues, and dealing with many of the big moments of life can manifest themselves into disease. Death is something that happens to us all; however, accelerating it is something we should avoid.

For me, my voice is my bread and butter. I write, craft, strategize, and all that, but relaying information through the spoken word is what I do all day long in meetings, on videos, on my shows, and at events and conferences. The throat chakra (vishuddha) is the communication hub of the body, where you find your voice, speak your truth, and sing praises - expressing one’s self, creativity, and communication, so it is that place in our bodies that needs extra care. It is also where we intake air and food and filter many carcinogens and nasty stuff.

I always wondered if you grew nodules once, is it simply a matter of time until they return or reappear? There are many reasons why people grow nodules. However, I posit that one of the reasons could be stress and, subconsciously, the holding back or inability to express oneself indeed through our throat chakra. 

Pre-COVID, in a routine check, I was told that nodules were back in the other half of my thyroid, but they were small. A new procedure started in Europe called RFA Radiofrequency ablation therapy had come on the scene, and my doctor said we’d watch them and see if they grow, and if so, RFA could be an option. It seemed like I blinked during the pandemic, and three years went by, and doctor’s appointments were also hard to get. An ultrasound and biopsy this October led to the finding that they had grown. I had hoped for RFA. However, after another fine needle biopsy, one nodule was called “suspicious,” something you don’t want to hear from your doctor. In thyroid terms, there are benign nodules on one side and cancer on the other, and suspicious ones have a percentage chance they will turn into cancer at some point. 50% was the number, so I opted for surgery. Why wait? The new official name for a nodule of this type is NIFTP: Non-Invasive Follicular Thyroid Neoplasm with Papillary-like Nuclear Features, which is a mouthful -


I have a fantastic doctor and surgeon in Los Angeles - Dr. Melanie Goldfarb, a leader, legend, and RFA pioneer. My surgery was ‘minor’ as it was an outpatient procedure; however, any surgery where you go under is worrisome.

I have wondered about the contribution of toxic and stressful moments that possibly became those nodules in my thyroid. The moments where I maybe didn’t say my peace or was asked to not show any seams in situations where I wanted to rail and yell about how upset I get about certain things - the treatment of women in the world, inequities, microaggressions, narcissists, and the 3 G’ (gaslighters, ghosters and gatekeepers). 

That phrase, “living rent-free in your head,” had me dreaming of certain moments manifesting in my thyroid by giving these people and moments more weight, energy, and time than I should have. Certain politicians, business people, and personal relationships fit that bill. That kind of manifesting is not what you want to dream about regularly. There was something comforting about the visceral thought of cutting these things out of my body, both literally and physically. 


How do we keep calm and not bring that stress and toxicity into our bodies in the first place?


Post my surgery, I certainly do not want to grow more nodules or something else somewhere else in my body or continue to give any more rent-free space to people, situations, and noise in the system.

Being chill is easier said than done.

These days, I have been leaning into Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, which I love and are a daily challenge for me. I have sticky notes all over my house with the agreements.

  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Take nothing personally
  3. Make no assumptions
  4. Always do your best

Don Miguel added a fifth agreement after many years of that book’s success: to be skeptical but learn to listen, which is a concept that I can get behind. The more friends and colleagues I share this with, the more we have a dialogue to hold each other accountable gently. Saying, ‘Maybe don’t take that personally’ or ‘Hey, don’t assume’ - the book has become one that my Dad and I are studying together as well during our ‘Folgers with Stan’ coffee talks.

My agreement with me is to surround myself with good people, say “enough” and get away from the toxic ones. Life is short.

Was I worried about going under? Absolutely. 

Was I worried about my voice and vocal cords? You bet.

Did I have a health directive and power of attorney drawn up? Yep.


My surgery went well, and I just had my check-up. The nodules/NIFTP/last half of my thyroid is gone, and I am feeling much better after time off work and chill. Sleep and ice cream were prescribed, which was fine by me. My fiance, family, and friends took great care of me, and I am lucky also to have health insurance.

My daily dosage of synthroid has increased. Those “suspicious” cells were there per pathology, so removal was the way to go. They are out, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the “it’s all gone” diagnosis, which isn’t always the case. Future checks, of course, and grateful for the results.

Thank you to those who sent me little aquamarine-colored good vibes for my throat, my surgical team, and me. I felt a lot of goodness going into that moment. 

Much of what I talk about is my sharing observations of the world and reminding myself that you never know what is going on behind someone’s smiling eyes. And I believe the more we talk about life with each other, the less alone we feel.

I believe wholeheartedly in the mind-body connection and will share some processes and little rituals I am working on to make self-care more habitual and lean into those four agreements to keep the D’s and G’s at bay. What are your “keep it chill” best tips? 

Lastly, whether it is your thyroid, mammograms, or prostate, please go for the routine checkup. Early detection of everything is so important. Time and good health we don’t get back. My heart holds many people I have lost and so many others to cancer and other diseases.

With love and good health, 


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To follow me on my speaking and travel journeys, connect with me on Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn,  and my Podcast!


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