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Francesca James, 71: The Gift of Intuition

After a successful corporate career, Francesca James, inspired by her cancer battle, turned her attention to wellness coaching and energy therapy. She discusses unconscious bias and racism, natural healing, and how cancer helped her reconnect to her inner voice.

Where do you live?
Inglewood, CA.

How old are you?
71.

How is the experience of aging different for someone of color?
I can’t speak on behalf of other ethnicities; I can only speak on behalf of myself, as a Black Woman. I’ve experienced a level of respect at being an elder that I don’t typically see in the white community. I am usually referred to as Ms Francesca, Auntie, Mama Francesca, etc. as a declaration of respect. I like that. That respect comes from those who know me and those whom I’ve never met.

There’s a saying that “Black don’t crack.”  It is a benefit from the melanin in our skin.  Because of that, we tend to look younger than our age. I certainly do. What isn’t understood is the fact that we also “weather.”

Because of the unparalleled stress under which Black people live, the poor health care that we receive, Black people “weather.” We age more quickly from the inside.

Any thoughts on how that experience is different for men of color?
I assume all the same apply. Black men undergo stress equally.  

Could you tell us about your cancer experience?
Well, that was a wild ride!

I was living a very intense, highly stressed life that I loved very much. I was raising two teenaged daughters and my new husband’s adorable young son. I was the epitome of “I am woman, hear me roar.” 

The cancer experience is best explained through an excerpt from my bookResurrecting the Muse: “ ‘Congratulations, Mrs. James. You are my most remarkable recovery ever! Stage III, Level C endometrial cancer…I didn’t believe you were going to make it.’ I am filled with renewed fascination each time these words of my oncologist cross my mind. My gynecologist concurred. They both actually thought I was going to die, but that thought never crossed my mind. I felt certain I was undergoing an ordeal; garnering an experience from which I would one day have wisdom to benefit myself and others. I heard my inner voice while in the emergency room. It spoke to me from deep within, keeping me afloat as I resisted the strong call to close my eyes and just let go. ‘This is merely an experience from which you will teach. Your presence and your voice are needed.’ I heard it clearly. I trusted those words and took them as my Truth. The highest part of me was running this show providing reconnection with the intuitive voice with which I had lost touch. What a dramatic way to regain my alignment, but I was willing to go along for the ride. I completely gave up the need to be in control. The person, who awakened after passing out from hemorrhaging, was not the same person who went thump in the middle of the night.”

I had half the normal volume of blood in my body. I took three trips to emergency one week apart. Each time they did something to stop the bleeding (which they wanted to have happen before the impending surgery) but nothing worked. My third trip to emergency, they would not allow me to leave without surgery. After several days in the hospital I was sent home, apparently, in their minds, to die. I’m so happy that I relied on a higher source. My intuitive voice told me very clearly on that third trip that I was not dying. Rather, I was undergoing a journey from which I would teach.

“My cancer journey served as a reminder that answered prayer comes in all shapes and sizes, all types of packages”

What did you learn from it?
Cancer SAVED my life! My cancer journey served as a reminder that answered prayer comes in all shapes and sizes, all types of packages. It was my responsibility to listen within and go with the flow.

Twenty years later, I continue to be in gratitude to my uterus, ovaries, and 21 lymph nodes for being the willing sacrifice for me to find my way back to living from the inside out, as I had done from early childhood.  

Working in white corporate America as a deeply melanated woman, I felt compelled to forget my true priorities and surrender to the wishes of the folks who signed the paychecks. However, the sacrifice of my uterus moved me back more deeply into the inner world of myself and that is the place from which I live. It’s different in here. However, I believe it is what we are meant to be; how we are meant to live.  

You had a successful corporate career. Could you tell us about that?
Straight out of college I worked for the Gillette company. From there, IBM. I retired from television advertising. All of my positions were in sales and marketing.  

My final leg of my career was with 9News/ KUSA-TV in Denver, CO, where I spearheaded a job share and was awarded Account Executive of the Year 2 years in a row for the station.  That second year I was also awarded Account Executive of the Year for the entire company, which included newspaper and radio. It was the first time the television division won that honor.

Why did you leave and what do you do now?
My surgery for endometrial cancer came six months after winning the top sales award for Gannett. As much as I truly loved my career, the pull to be more present with my family and myself became stronger. 

I was already licensed as a spiritual counselor and yoga instructor. I placed my focus there and created a thriving business. Energy therapy was added to my repertoire. I began first with reflexology. To that therapy I added reiki, followed by essential oils and tuning forks. My life still today is about assisting other people in their healing through wellness coaching and energy therapy.

“My life still today is about assisting other people in their healing through wellness coaching and energy therapy”

What is reiki and how do you use it?
The word reiki (pronounce ray-key) is made of two Japanese words: rei, which means higher power, and ki, which is life-force energy. So, reiki is actually “spiritually-guided life-force energy.” It is a Japanese healing method and is one of the world’s most widely practiced and commonly recognized forms of subtle energy healing. In fact, reiki is the most known and widely used form of energy medicine performed in the United States today. 

Reiki is administered by placing the hands on or above the body. It is based on the idea that an unseen life-force energy flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one’s life-force energy is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress. If one’s life-force energy is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy. 

To facilitate healing, I tune in to the manner in which the client’s energy is “misbehaving.” Sometimes the energy feels stuck, sometimes it is missing, sometimes it is like a staccato beat, etc. Through my hands, I represent to one’s system the balanced way of flow and remind it of such through placing my hands on or above various areas of the body. I am stimulating the energy field of the body so that it can better heal and support itself. The effects of reiki healing are best understood through experiencing a session which, oddly enough, can be administered remotely as well as in person.

“I was intuitively guided to reiki as a form of healing for myself following my bout with cancer”

How long have you been practicing reiki, and how does one learn it?
I became a reiki master/teacher in 2003. I was intuitively guided to reiki as a form of healing for myself following my bout with cancer. It was so powerful that I desired to learn it and be a beneficial presence for the healing of others. 

The ability to use reiki is not taught in the usual sense, but is transferred to the student during a reiki class. This ability is passed on during an “attunement” given by a reiki master, which allows the student to tap into an unlimited supply of life-force energy to improve one’s health and enhance the quality of life. Unfortunately, many classes are taught online these days. I don’t believe that reiki can be properly taught without teacher and student being physically present. In my humble opinion, there is something missing in the practice of reiki from those who have been taught that in that manner, or in classes where the three levels of reiki are taught in one weekend. The true teaching of reiki is so much deeper than that. 

Any guilty pleasure TV streaming show you enjoy?
Abbott Elementary.
Abbott Elementary is an American mockumentary sitcom television series created by Quinta Brunson for ABC. It stars Brunson as Janine Teagues, a positive second-grade teacher at the poorly-funded Abbott Elementary, a fictional predominantly Black school in Philadelphia. 

What are the 3 non-negotiables in your life?
Number One: Honestly, I no longer allow white people to go unchecked in their unconscious bias and racism. I know that it’s often not a choice they are making. However, it exists and affects people of color in ways of which they are unaware. I think it’s more important to be aware and check oneself for future. So I am unapologetic in my Blackness. It is the reason that I began teaching the class, “Deconstructing Racism” specifically for white people to be able to see the unconscious places and embody greater empathy.

Number Two: I truly believe that we have been gifted nothing more important than our intuitive voice. I am obedient to the guidance received from within. I do not question its validity and I follow that guidance immediately.

Number Three: My body is a temple. Although there are days when I stray from feeding it as such, I am always aware that I am blessed to have this vehicle to navigate through this thing called Life. It is my goal to feed it nourishing foods and provide adequate amounts of water, the elixir of Life.

Connect with Francesca James:
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AUTHOR

David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.

 

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