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When Death Becomes Life: How My Mom’s Death Became Our Life

When Death Becomes Life: How My Mom’s Death Became Our Life

In honor of Pamela Jean Murphy Nessler – April 19, 1982

When someone dies we are taught to say goodbye, mourn, and move on.  This has always confused me, how do you “move on” when someone has been such an integral part of your life.  I prefer to think of moving forward.

My entire life I have tried to gather bits and pieces of information on my mother in hopes of learning who she was and what she was like as a person.  Through my family and her friends I have been able to paint a picture of the person that she was and who she would be today.  I smile when I hear of her adventures and I cry when I am told stories of her sorrows.  I am especially touched when I find out that part of journeys were the same and even though we went through them at separate times in separate lives I feel a closeness to her that makes her feel alive for a moment in time.

I wasn’t always able to talk about my mom at my house.  It wasn’t something that my stepmother encouraged and it was something that was hard for my father.   It was a topic that was understood to be off limits although no one ever said it. When I was a child I didn’t understand why my dad didn’t want to talk about my mom but in aging has come wisdom and now I see that out of sight and out of mind somehow equates to less pain.  I have come to learn that death and the loss of a loved one is a very personal experience and each person must deal with the event in his or her own way.

Not speaking about my mother’s death meant I also knew very little about her life and that truthfully I had never dealt with her death.  When your mother dies at two years old everyone sort of assumes you don’t need to grieve.   They also assume you have no memories.  Neither one are true.

Personally, I have a few memories of my mother’s last days.  They were of the days she was in hospice, they are splotchy at best but they are all I have.  What I can say is that at two you see the world through rose-colored glasses so although my memories of her are of her in hospice and in the last days of her life they are not terrible memories.  I remember the excitement of the ride to go see her after four months away, her holding me and saying goodbye, and people smiling as I climbed in her suitcase by her hospital bed to say good-bye, her new robe was light green, and I remember being sad she was going to be with Jesus and we had just been re-united.  Across the board they are memories I treasure.  How do I remember at the age of two?  My family has always wondered but there were no cameras and as I said my mother’s death was something in my younger years we never discussed.  I’ve always had a good memory; I consider it God’s gift as it has served me well.

At the age of twenty-two, I finally came to the point where I began to deal with my mom’s death. It took great friends, amazing family, fantastic wine, and time.  By the age of twenty-six I was finally at a point where I was able to look at my mom’s death for what it really was and that was a catapult and not an anchor. Let me explain.  A catapult propels and an anchor holds you back.  All events in our lives have the ability to propel us or hold us back.  In my opinion it is more common that we allow what we consider “positive” events to propel us, and “negative” events to anchor us.

I have pledged to find the positive in all situations whether or not I “feel like it” because when your mother loses her life to cancer at twenty-nine and passes four months after her diagnosis you realize that life truly is too short and wasting time is exactly that wasting time.  Believe me its not always easy but it is always necessary.  The day I began to see my mom’s life and death as a catapult was the day that “we” began to live.

For me I believe people only die if we allow them, while they physically die their spirit can live with us for as long as we allow it to live.  For some allowing their loved ones spirit to live is too hard and is not something they can do and still live themselves and for others like me it allows them to truly live.  Choosing to live for us both has enhanced my life in many areas.

My mother lost her life at the age of twenty-nine and that is where her journey alone on this earth ended. After dealing with my mother’s death at 26, I decided that I would live my life for my mother and since that day my mother has been my “why”.  Her death is what drives me to educate the world about living a wellness lifestyle.  My mother did all things considered “healthy”.  She ate right, took vitamins, exercised, and was a peaceful fun loving person.  But, my mother never had her nervous system assessed; she had never been checked by a chiropractor. My “why” is strong and it is my hope that her death allows others to live. I want to make sure that everyone is given the opportunity to live their life full out and that they and their loved ones are not cut short of all this life has to offer.  In my heart, each person I educate takes a little piece of her spirit with them and through their life she too lives.

A small part of my mom’s journey is carried out through those I share my passion with but a huge part of her live through me and with me.  At twenty-nine, the age when she passed, I decided that I would live the rest of her life for her.  Each time I do something she wasn’t’ able to do, I do it for her, I do it for us.  I commemorated this decision on April 19th, 2010 by running the Boston Marathon and re-qualifying with my best time.  Since that day I have lived each day for us and that makes each day that much more special.

Death is hard and if we are not careful we anchor to the loss of a loved one and with their death a part of us dies. I have chosen to use my mother’s death as a catapult and have allowed her death to propel me into the life I was meant to live.  I have taken it a step farther and have chosen to live for us both by sharing her spirit and story with the world.  Through my mother’s death I have chosen to live and will continue to allow her spirit to live.

Love. Laugh. Adjust.

Dr. Martha Nessler, Innate Girl


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Is the Love You Have Enough?

Dr. Martha’s Monday Morning Motivational

Monday, April 11, 2011

Is your level of love enough? Do you love otehrs enough? Do you love yourself enough? It’s hard to know.  Whether or not you love is usually not the question but do you love enough? When we love enough we are unstoppable but simply just loving may not be enough to create the necessary shift.  Love is powerful, it is the highest vibration and with it all things are possible.  Love almost makes us invincible.  So the ultimate question is do you love enough?

Get still and ask what yourself what you want.  If you are not where you want to be or you don’t have what you want then its possible you aren’t “loving” enough.  This is where you have to decide exactly what outcome you want and to get the outcome you may need to love more.  Love is interesting it actually creates motion because of its high vibration so increasing your level of love creates the necessary energy to create change.  Because love is a positive vibration, it creates positive energy therefore you get a positive change.  Positive energy enhances any situation.

So, do you love enough? Do you love yourself enough to say no as to create balance in your life? Do you love enough to tell the truth? Do you love people enough to tell them that the social norm is not what is best? Do you love someone enough to walk away or to push through the pain? There are a million situations where we can ask ourselves, “Do I love enough?” And if the answer is no then we must ask, “Am I willing to love more?” Only we can answer these questions for ourselves, no one can tell us to love more.  Love is intimate and emanates internally from each heart and soul individually.  Check yourself and ask, “Do I love enough?”

Love. Laugh. Adjust.

Dr. Martha Nessler, Innate Girl

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“Nessler” Adjusts Well

Reprinted with permission by

Personality Profile

Springfield  Business Journal • August 2010 • Page 34

Nessler ‘adjusts’ well  to career

Dr. Martha Nessler

Title: Owner/Chiropractor, Optimal Chiropractic


3315  Robbins Road, Springfield, IL 62704


(217) 698-1111


Age: 30

By Eric Woods, Correspondent

Dr. Martha Nessler  grew up in the  central Illinois area  where she  has spent most of  her  life.  She  attended the  University of  Illinois in  Champaign where she earned a bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies with an emphasis in early  childhood education. Nessler  attended Logan College of Chiroprac- tic in Chesterfield, Mo., for her doctoral studies where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in human biology and a doctorate in chiropractic. “Getting involved with chiropractic is the  best thing that ever happened to me,” said Nessler.  “I believe this  is a calling, not a career.” Outside of the  office,  Dr. Nessler  is an  avid  runner, having competed in the  Boston Marathon and the Ironman competition in  Tempe, Ariz. She is a member of The  Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce and is involved with the  chiropractic portion of the  new  Kidzeum. She is also a member of the  Chiropractic Leadership Al- liance and the  Illinois Chiropractic Society.

Nature of  the business: Nessler  opened Optimal Chiropractic in  April  2007  and ac- knowledges that they are  not a typical office.  “We  are  very  wellness-oriented,” she said.  “People come for wellness in  their lives.  Their body is not functioning right, so we assess the  body as a whole and find out why  it is not working.” Nessler’s  goal is for her  patients to live their optimum life. She looks  for subluxations that cause  the  body to not function properly. The  problems can  be chemical, physical, or emotional, and so Nessler  will start a program to help each individual patient. “Be fit, eat right, think well, and get adjusted.”

How is business?: “Everything is awesome and better than ever,”  said Dr. Nessler.  “I choose not to take  part in the  economy. I feel you  create your own reality by what you   think.  What you   think about, you bring about.”

Trends:Nessler sees  people moving more towards wellness as  a  whole  and  taking charge of themselves. “We are proactively doing things to  keep our  bodies function- ing,” she  said.  “We can  make choices to make changes and seek education.” She feels her  clients are hungry to learn because they do not want to be sick.

Challenges: Nessler  is trying to get people to realize  that they shouldn’t be dependent on  their insurance, and that they do not have the  benefits they used  to have. “Insur- ance should be used  if something goes  bad,” she  said. Getting the  wellness message out  to more people in mass is another goal. “So many people who learn about wellness wish  they knew it before.”

Of what accomplishments are  you  most proud?: Nessler  is very proud of a number of achievements including being named to  the  Springfield Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 in 2009, earning the  Chiropractor of the  Month last September from the Chiroprac- tic  Leadership Alliance, running  the  Boston Marathon and then  being re-qualified, and completing the  Ironman. Most  importantly, she  is  proud to  constantly see  the  faces of the  lives she  has  helped change.

What was  your  worst former job?: Cleaning stalls  at  her  father’s pig  farm was a job Nessler  does  not want to do again. “Scraping manure at 4:30  in the morning was not for me,” she  said.

What tips  for success would you give?: “Find  your  passion, feel it, and figure out  why  you  do what you  do,”  said  Dr. Nessler.  Other key aspects would be setting goals,  hav-  ing  a vision, and planning to see it through. Dr. Nessler  is also a believer in doing the  “hour of power” in  which people spend quiet time to  plan their days  and figure  out  what they want. “People should get  up  an  hour before they normally would in  the  morning and do this.”

What’s  next for  you?: Dr.  Nessler  has  just  gotten started, and she  plans to  continue running her  business and impacting more lives. “Everyone needs to get checked out  to see if they need to get adjusted,” she  said.  “Many people are surprised to see that they do  need it.”  She would also  like to coach other chiropractors and help them grow  in their profession. A long-term goal would be to write  a book.

Eric Woods is a freelance writer from Springfield

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Will Katherine Live To Be 103?

I was just speaking with my 94 year-old patient, Katherine, about her goal of outliving her cousin, Gladys, who lived to 103 years-old.  She was sharing that she feels like she’s getting “more well” with every adjustment and how glad she was that she decided a year and a half ago to get under care.  We then discussed some changes she could make to move forward and closer to her goal.  I’m awed by her determination to fulfill an internal  burning desire.  Like I told her in 2008, I will do everything in my power to help her achieve this and she can guarantee that I am her number 2 fan! We all have to become our own number one fan.

Katherine is inspiring.  She is a breath of fresh air and an encouragement to everyone in the office.  She is one of those practice members of which you wish you had a million more.  She really gets the chiropractic lifestyle and the wellness paradigm. She constantly reminds family and friends to invest in themselves now because when you are “old, crippled, broke, and alone” it’s too late to invest and then it’s just maintaing at the best level possible.

When Katherine came to me a year and a half ago she was completely numb on the left side of her body.  Upon exam and x-ray, significant scoliosis was detected.  Her significant scoliosis was causing multiple subluxations throughout her spine and therefore she was experiencing considerable nervous system distress.  The scoliosis had also caused multiple compression fractures in her spine throughout the years.  When I explained to Katherine what was going on tears filled her eyes. I asked her why she had tears and she simply stated that she wished she would have done something earlier.  I hear that alot.  I was empathetic to her sadness but informed her that we would do anything possible to help her live out her remaining years at an optimal level.  That is when she first shared her goal of outliving Gladys.

Katherine has been under care here for a year and a half.  Her numbness is gone and she has improved her overall quality of life.  There isn’t a day she isn’t smiling and telling me how much she loves me for investing in her and being her wellness coach.  Little does she know she has done more for me than I could ever do for her.

She is a constant reminder to invest in myself now by taking care of myself chemically, physically, and emotionally.  She is a constant reminder that it’s NEVER too late to get well.  That any goal is attainable with the right action steps, support, and a crystal clear vision.

Katherine is the perfect example to return to when you are contemplating investing in your own wellness.  It’s inevitable you either pay in little increments over time and maintain OR you pay a big, lump sum in the end and deal with the outcome you get.  I know I would rather chunk it down like any BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal); rather than procrastinate.  Procrastinating is interesting; it’s a gamble; it’s cancer of the mind .  My wellness is just not something I’m willing to gamble with.   Are you?

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Principle #6 of the 33 Principles

Principle #6,  The Principle Of Time – “There Is No Process That Does Not Require Time.”

I have committed to take time each day to delve into the 33 Principles and really begin to comprehend each and every one of them individually.  I have made it a part of my “daily hour of power” and can say that each day I feel myself growing mentally and spiritually as I read on. All of the principles are very powerful and rich in insight but one that has really resonated with me lately  is Principle Six, “There Is No Process That Does Not Require Time”, the principle of patience.

Patience is an attribute I constantly strive towards better understanding and consciously practicing.   In hopes to expand the level to which I am currently patient so that I am continuously evolving into the best version of myself.

I have always been someone who moves quickly in my motions, thoughts, emotions, and in most areas of my life.  It’s how I am internally wired, how I function best.   This fast pace in which I have lived my life has served me well and I am thankful for my ability to assess  situations and do what is necessary to obtain the appropriate outcome; in a timely fashion. But, much like most of life it has its pro’s and con’s and deserves its  opposite for counterbalance.

Because I am able to quickly progress many areas of my life; it is hard to realize there are some arenas that just take time.  There are things that  simply shouldn’t be rushed; situations which require more time to unfold and mature much like a fine wine. Much like Principle #6 states, “There Is No Process That Does Not Require Time.”

I read this principle a few times before I really realized how many areas of life this principle applies to; much like the other thirty-two principles it can be applied to many more aspects of life outside of chiropractic.  For innate to reach proper balance and the body to regain proper function  such as it was at its creation, it takes time because the body is a combination of multiple processes.  Life is similar, it is full of processes and requires time.  Many times we look at a situation in life and want it to “pan out” the way we see that it should and in the time frame that we see fitting but we often fail to see all the other processes that concurrently occur.  It is often that we isolate the one event and forget that it is impossible to isolate a situation when so many things are happening simultaneously.  We don’t realize that everything has to happen in a well-balanced rhythm as to not upset the perfect balance that life “should happen” in for everything to simply be as it should.  This concept of “being as it should”, where by everything happens in a certain way and for a reason simply because it should happen that way and is “supposed” to happen that way; is a hard concept to accept and understand.  Frankly, because it doesn’t always happen the way that we want it to happen or saw it happening.  It’s then that we have to accept that we can’t control everything and much like the proverbial cliché, “Everything happens for a reason”, hether or not we want it to have that outcome, it simply “just is”.

Personally for me I know that I envision what I want to happen ultimately with the “proper outcome” and with tunnel vision I see that as the only way and want to get there as soon as possible.  I want to make the Greatest Possible Impact in the  Least Amount of Time.  But seeing the outcome in crystal clear clarity and owning it, in the way I see it and as I see it to be;  I forget all that must occur for me to get there; I forget the another proverbial cliché, “It’s not only about the destination but also the journey”.

My plan is to live my life full-out and experiencing every aspect, because I only have one life.  In order to do this I know that I have to not only understand but fully own Principle 6 of the 33 Principles, so that I don’t miss one aspect of this awesome life with which I have been blessed. Therefore I am focusing on letting go and letting God; letting life happen as it should.  I remind myself daily to pull from every situation and to not push.  While pushing has its benefits in some aspects of life, in situations and experiences we risk missing the finite details that tie it all together and give us the total experience we need to grow.

I just remind myself, “In due time, life it needs no rush.”

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What if someone would have told them?

The other day I had a consult with a family who had a mother dying of cancer.  They came to me in desperation; she was in stage 4 cancer which had metastasized.  They were sent here by a practice member who knew we could help.  After consulting the husband and daughter, they were so eager to get started…they knew if nothing else she would be comfortable in her last days.

They had been through so many obstacles in the medical model.  They had felt so hopeless, so defeated.  They had been arguing with the hospital and hospice about what to feed her, how to make her comfortable, and what steps to take next.  They came to me seeking support if nothing else. They told me,  I was the first person to listen to them and not just hear them.  I saw the glimmer of hope in their eyes because someone saw how precious this woman’s life was.

I set an appointment to go to the hospital and see her the beginning of the week.  We were able to cut through the red tape that exists when someone is in hospice and we had the majority of family on board with significant education. Driving to the appointment I received a call; she had just passed the night before.   Tears immediately filled my eyes as I asked myself, “What if?” A million “What ifs?” crossed my mind.

You see where I gain my passion is from losing my mother to cancer.  She was diagnosed just 6 months after the birth of my brother; the weekend of my second birthday and passed within four months.  Now, it is important to understand that my mother was under the care of a medical doctor for 3 years while she was pregnant.  My brother and I are Irish twins born a year and a half apart, so the entire 3 years she was seen on a regular basis by a physician.  But, when she was diagnosed everyone was blind sided and in their opinion it was “too late”.  She died of a rare cancer which completely invaded her reproductive and digestive system.

For the time period my mother lived what most would consider a “healthy lifestyle”.  By that I mean she took vitamins, ate healthy, and walked regularlt.  My mother did the best with what she was taught by her MFTP (mother, father, teacher, preacher).  Yes, she could have taken all areas to a greater level but she definitely did more than most.  One avenue my mother never traveled was down the road that lead her toward the chiropractic lifestyle.  While I am not certain, I don’t believe anyone ever introduced her to chiropractic; no one ever shared their story or “the” story with her.  Don’t get me wrong their weren’t exactly screenings in the late 70’s and early 80’s (which was when she and my father began their life) so hearing the message would have had to be from a friend.  And having talked to my grandparents who now get the importance and own the story and lifestyle of chiropractic; they didn’t known or they would have done things differently when raising her.

Also, remember at that time chiropractic was being sold as “pain therapy” and not wellness.  My mother had no pain until December of 1981 and passed by April 1982.  As we know, pain is not an indicator; it’s only 10% of a nerve with 90% being autonomic and motor function (45% each).  My mother had no idea she was “subluxated”.  This is where education is so important.  People really don’t know and for years we really didn’t tell them.  We have a lot of work to do to continue to educate and also to re-educate individuals.  It is a task I feel our profession is up for and each day doing more and more to complete the task.   And each day it is our responsibility to do a little bit more to continually grow.

I can’t help but always think, “What if someone would have told her? What if she knew what I knew?” Would I have been vaccinated? Would I have been adjusted the day I was born? Would my mother be watching me live the life of my dreams?

So, receiving that call last week  I couldn’t help but think the same things, all the “What ifs?”

I am sharing this personal part of my life, the passion that drives me, to impress upon the importance of educating and empowering everyone that you meet.  I don’t tell this portion of my life as a “story”, stories don’t propel us; I am sharing my passion with you to inspire you.  What is your passion? What drives you to serve at a deeper level? I challenge you to be present time conscious and realize that everyone deserves to know, they are ignorant unless they are educated.  Then they decide.

My purpose is simple “To Ignite”.  If after reading this email, I have ignited in you something that causes you to engage more than I have fulfilled my purpose.

This like much of my life is dedicated to the spirit of my mother which lives through me and in me.


To blog or not to blog?

In regards to blogging, there was really no question.  I knew that upon turning 30, it was time to start many new and exciting chapters in my life and among the new experiences for me would be blogging.   After reading a few friends and colleagues blogs I was amazed by their knowledge, awed by their thoughts, provoked to expand myself beyond my own comfort zone, and motivated to begin my own blog to share my heart, mind, and passion.

So, here I sit on January 1, 2010 writing my first blog with millions of thoughts berating my mind eager to appear on the screen that sits in front of me.  For my first blog, I decided I would begin, simply, by stating the purpose of my blog: “To Ignite”.  To ignite what you might ask? Well, the answer to that question lies in what is to come.  I don’t know that that is something I can decide or dictate but rather something that will simply unveil itself as you read.

It is my intent that my blog emulates my spirit, emotions, thoughts, and passion as I share the intricate working of my mind with you. Together through this process we will grow and reach new heights, feeling stretched outside of our comfort zones and compelled to rise up.  Enjoy!

“You never know how far reaching something you think, say or do today, will affect the lives of millions tomorrow.” -BJ Palmer

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