Nourish yourself, and please VOTE!
"It's a good life, honey, if you don't grow weary." This chorus from an Alexa Woodward song has been running over and over in my mind the last few weeks. Perhaps, my inner coach is encouraging me to keep going during these trying times. We've been living in the pandemic era for over six months now, and so much of the shadow side of our society has come up to the surface. We have been confronted with the opportunity to face the unsustainable, the orphans, the bullies. Doing the work to heal and shift into integrity takes attention and presence. Two things, that as we move through these collective traumas, can take even more effort to access. It is also clear that we need to think of the long game. The coronavirus, and systemic racism are not going to vanish overnight. But how do we keep learning, and doing the work that needs to be done without burning out? Have you been feeling weary? My intent today is to explore ways that we can nourish ourselves so we can continue to do what we need to personally and collectively to move through these times while staying sane and connected to our hearts.
Before we get to our regularly scheduled programming, I feel urged to call out what I saw on Tuesday evening while watching the presidential debates. Speaking of weariness, I know many of us are tired of what we have been experiencing. So perhaps, before reading on, take a few deep breaths, allow yourself to feel what is present within you, and offer yourself some compassion. These are trying times. The behavior of our commander-in-chief, was that of a cornered narcissist lashing out trying to regain ground and control. Coming to identify the behaviors of narcissism is something we explore in my Empowered Empath series, as there is a common tendency for empaths and narcissists to be drawn together, and recognizing what is going on, and how to not get tangled in the dynamics is important for staying healthy and sane. So for those of you who are not already familiar with narcissism, how it shows up, and how to protect yourself here are a few points.
Narcissism is a trait that exists on a spectrum. In those where it is dominant, we see these key characteristics: the desire for power and control over others; a lack of respect for other's autonomy, and who they really are; a fabricated illusion of grandeur to compensate for a sense of hollowness within; a severe lacking of empathy for others. Another term that is used for narcissists and other challenging personality types is "energy vampires," as these people "feed" on the energy of others to sustain themselves. In their woundedness (likely from early life) they have not learned how to maintain their energy on their own, while respecting others' sovereignty, so narcissists rely on others for "narcissistic supply." This can be other's admiration, bolstering of their ego, attention, even "getting another's goat," so to speak, and feeding off of their anger, and fear.
There are many different types of narcissists, but in Trump we see the type that is most often associated with the term, a grandiose or overt narcissist. Narcissists are highly manipulative, and we saw many of those techniques in Tuesday's debate. Expert gaslighting: distorting facts in an attempt to control the narrative and reality of others. The intent of gaslighting is to instill so much doubt in others that they question their reality, and turn to the gaslighter as their new authority on reality. When they are successful, the illusion of grandeur or perfection surrounding the narcissist is so thick that we deny anything we see to the contrary. When that happens we've bitten the hook. We see this in the way Trump tries to control the narrative around his handling of Covid-19, despite our experiences to the contrary. The incessant interrupting was also an overwhelming attempt to dominate and steamroll, not only Biden, but the moderator, as well, to have control. Narcissists go for the low blow. They stockpile information against you, and throw it out as zingers when they think your defenses are down or you're most vulnerable. We saw this in his callous remarks about Biden's sons, and without any regard or compassion for the loss of Biden's son Beau.
We are not dealing with the average human being that we can reason with, have a discussion with an intent to find common ground, and compromise for solutions. Narcissists who are not getting help (the vast majority don't because they are in denial that they need support) cannot meet you in the middle. Their agenda of control will always be on the forefront of their mind. If they feel like they are starting to lose that control or narcissistic supply, they will double down. That is what we are seeing right now.
I could go on... but I will say if you were feeling drained, angry, upset, etc. after watching the debate, that is because what we witnessed was not healthy. As a country we have been in an abusive relationship with this president, and what unfolded on Tuesday was one verbally and energetically violent episode. If you have had narcissists or abuse in your life you may have felt particularly triggered after that event. If this is you, remember to have compassion for yourself, and hopefully there will be something useful for you in the later part of this article. Please seek out support if you are needing it.
A few points that I share with my empath students to safely and sanely navigate these dynamics:
In Wisconsin, there is still time to register to vote absentee, or early. All the information Wisconsinites need is here: MyVoteWisconsin (One of the things I love is that if you vote absentee, they give you the ability to track your ballot to make sure it is received.)In another state and want to vote early, or absentee? Find all the details at Better Know A Ballot.
For registration and all other voter information visit: Vote.gov
Your Voice Matters!
Okay, now onto the good stuff: nourishment and dispelling weariness.
Let's take another moment to pause, close our eyes, and breathe. Allow space for whatever might be coming up in you physically or emotionally. Whatever you are experiencing is just energy and information. As we practice sitting with it as we breathe, and offer compassionate witnessing, healing begins to happen. Stay with this as long as you need to.
Now, reflect upon what has been working well for you over the last several months. (I've created this worksheet for your ease in following this exercise if you like.) What has brought joy, comfort, relief, and constructive outlets for you as we move through these times? Maybe you are going for regular walks, having virtual game nights with friends and family, making tasty meals, writing poetry, meditating, puttering in the garden, napping, or snuggling with your pets or children. What new or old habits have been helping you sustain? Make a list of what has been filling your cup, how often you have been able to participate in those activities, and star the ones that have been particularly impactful. Now considering one activity at a time, with the changing of the seasons, is there anything that can, or needs to be tweaked so you can continue to enjoy it into the cooler months? Allow this to be a time for your creativity to emerge. If you can't find a solution for how to adapt a certain outlet, make note of it, and what needs it has been meeting for you (connection, movement, play, rest, support, learning, hope, inspiration, etc.).
Now, are there any new activities that you could incorporate to replace any that you will no longer be able to do? Focus on the needs that were being met, and brainstorm what other ways you might be able to meet those needs. For instance, if you were gardening and it was helping you feel grounded and inspired by beauty, maybe you could dream and plan for your garden next year, learn about the plants and wildlife in your area, study ways that you can preserve food, do grounding meditations, or paint picturesque landscapes. Perhaps there are some needs you haven't been able to meet at all during this time. What are they, and how could you prioritize them?
There may be things that have been bogging you down that you need to let go of. For example, obligations to relationships that are draining or not reciprocal, guilt about resting or taking care of yourself, or habits that keep you busy or distract that don't actually nourish you. Ask yourself, what don't I have to do? What can I let go of?
Sit with your list. Star your highest priorities to maintain, integrate, or release. Then narrow it down to 1-3 that you can focus on in the next couple months to support your well-being.
What did you come up with? Share with us in the comments .
Take good care of yourselves!
Listen to your inklings and you just may save a life.
Last Wednesday was one of those rainy days where it gently, and consistently pours throughout the day. I've always been fond of the rain. There is something about it that invites reflection and comfort for me.
After receiving a liberating and joyful Alexander Technique lesson with my friend and colleague Xochi John, I had a short window of time before my next client. There was a break in the rain, and something was subtly beckoning me outside for a stroll. I debated the amble as I wouldn't have enough time to make it to the woody savanna that I like to visit. It would have to be a short jaunt around the creek behind our office, then right back. Maybe my time would be better spent integrating the lesson with a brief rest on the couch, I contemplated. I let my hesitations go, put on my coat, and ventured to the creek.
It felt soothing to get outside, and take in the happenings of the creatures out and about. As I passed under a bridge, I saw a family of ducks skimming along. The mother leading the way with the fuzzy little ducklings scuttling behind in a row, two by two, rotating who was in the front. I stopped to admire them for a bit, and counted nine little ducklings. Gosh, they were adorable. They found a patch of vegetation, scattered to their posts, and began to feed. I carried on.
I reached the turn around point for the path, and saw a muskrat swimming along. The furry one eventually disappeared from sight as it neared the bushy plants draping over the edge of the waterway. I relished in gratitude to work so close to this haven for wildlife, and began my return trip on the other side of the creek.
After passing under the bridge, I eventually came upon the family of ducklings again. They hurriedly darted among the watery weeds feeding further along the shore. I checked my watch; I still had enough time before my client would arrive, so I decided to wait and bit longer and watch them. They didn't seem to notice me, though I was only about 15 feet away on the edge of the bike path. These poofy little beings were so eager to eat, it's as if I existed in a completely different dimension outside of their reality. Their ease allowed me to marvel in how adorable they all were, without fear of startling them.
Then, all of a sudden, I realize something is awry. The mother frantically darts back and forth squawking. She is searching for something. The little ducklings move to the side. One, two, three...eight. There are only eight! Where is the ninth?! I hear a little, "peep, peep, peep," but can't see the other duckling anywhere.
The mother seems to have found her lost little one. She plunges her head into the water trying to pull her beloved up with her beak. I can see the small orange beak break the surface for a moment, before it plunges back underwater. Again, the mother attempts. And, again, to the same effect. Frantic desperation fills the air. The mother, unable to help her little one, quickly shepherds the other ducklings away to the other side of the creek, shielding them from a similar fate.
I cannot see the little duckling from where I am standing. I move to the edge of the creek where I saw the mother's urgent attempts. There, shrouded within the weeds, I spot the little duckling's head pointed outward, completely underwater, yet only a mere couple inches from the surface.
I crouch down, and lean in to gently scoop up the little one, but it is dreadfully tangled. I am able to lift it enough so it's head is out of the water, but if I let go, it will sink again. I must work at freeing it. As I carefully pull the plant matter from its right wing, the mother realizes I am holding her baby. She flies from the other shoreline straight toward me, her alarm shrieks ringing in the air. She lands in the middle of the stream, and becomes quiet, though vigilant.
By now, I realize there is something from below weighing the duckling down. I reach deeper, and feel a woody stalk that was laying horizontally, wedged over the little duckling's foot. As I raise the stalk from the depths, the duckling now has enough wiggle room to free itself. It darts out of the mess of weeds in my hands, runs along the shoreline, then zooms through the water reuniting with its mother. Salvation! They rejoin the eight siblings, and go back to feeding in a more sheltered spot of the creek.
I burst into tears, overwhelmed with emotion. Waves of feelings and sensations moving through me, which I am unsure if words exist to describe. All I know is that this experience was as much of a gift to me as that little duckling, and its mother. After letting the reality of what's just unfolded settle a bit, I head back into the clinic to prepare for my next client.
A couple hours later, I have another short break, and decide to go out and see if I could check on this duck family I now feel inexplicably close with. At the far end of the creek, near Lake Monona, I spot them. Again, feeding along the rocky shore. All nine ducklings and mother. They all seem to be moving about just like normal, happy ducklings. My heart smiles. They are all okay. We are all okay.
As the ripples of this experience have had sometime to soak into my consciousness, I feel the layers of meaning and lessons so intertwined, gently peaking their heads up. The possibilities that arise when we listen to the inklings we have. How something larger than ourselves sometimes uses us to be "guardian angels" for others, guiding us to be in the right place at the right time. The life-saving power of being present, aware, and seeing what is; had I just continued walking, or not taken a closer look, I would not have noticed that little duckling trapt underwater. That having an outside perspective, and the right tools for the job is essential; no matter how much that mother tried to save her beloved, she didn't have what was necessary to untangle the little one. When we move from a place of connectedness, love, and willingness, knowing that we are a part of the whole—not a separate, outside observer—miracles can happen. Yes, sometimes it may come down to "little old me" or you to act, there may not be anyone else there to swoop in. So many universal lessons to contemplate.
Finally, on a personal note, I know this experience is an incredible gift, and sign. I have been diving deeply in recent months, healing core layers of wounding of my inner child. A part of me that was so tangled in thoughts of illusion and darkness, that attempting suicide seemed the only way to be seen in my pain. Fortunately, I too, had guardian angels. My dear childhood friend Mikaela's love, and witnessing pulled me out of the depths at that time, and I have not been caught in that seemingly inescapable grasp since. But there were remnants of that pain that still needed healing. Over the last decade, I have nurtured trust with this ten-year-old me, and offered her healing with the gift of Reiki, and other support I have uncovered on this journey. In the process, those wounds have dissolved, bit by bit. Now that I am an adult, I have the right tools, I know I have friends "in the light" I can call upon, and, damn it, young Sarah, I see you, just like I saw that little duckling, and I will never leave you tangled in darkness again. I love you. This experience was a sign to me of the progress I've made, and, perhaps most moving for me, a completion of the cycle; gratitude for my life that was saved, and the gift to return the favor, and free another from a similar fate.
Dear friends, thank you for reading my story. I hope it offers some medicine for you, which will no doubt be unique to your own life. If you feel inspired, I would love to hear what this evokes within you. Feel free to comment below.
No matter where this finds you today, may you know there are "angels" around every corner, and if you need someone to walk with you, all you have to do is ask.
With so much love for you,
P.S. Okay, Brené Brown... How's that for daring greatly? I'll admit, I was tentative about sharing my personal note, but I hope that in the sharing it has been helpful for some.
P.P.S. I will be away from the clinic June 22–30, 2019 to rest and recharge. Please reach out to me before if you need support, otherwise I will be getting back to you when I return at the beginning of July.
Remembering our humanness is where our freedom lies.
Spring is upon us here in the Midwest. After the twists and turns of this past winter, I hope all of you are getting a chance to welcome the return of light and warmth.
Today, I want to speak to the trend of valuing productivity, efficiency, busy-ness, and impeccable performance that we've been seeing in our culture for some time. How do you notice these themes showing up for you in your life? Do they effect the expectations you have of yourself, and those that others have of you?
Many of the aforementioned qualities are valuable things, of which our society is well aware. But what happens when we forget to hold these values in relationship with other qualities? What happens when those values hold dominion over others like connection, rest, play, and humility?
As our culture has become more rooted in productivity and performance, and our fascination with technology has grown, I wonder if, on a certain level, many of us have forgotten what we are. Many of us are trying to stay competitive so we work long hours without rest or nourishment. When we feel grumpy, sick, or impatient, frustration with ourselves mounts because it gets in the way of our "to do list". I mean, "Why can't we just get over it already?!" So we often push through the feelings, tiredness, or pain, hoping it will clear up on its own. We tell ourselves, if only we do better, the "problem" will go away.
If you find yourself grappling through a similar process, I'm here to remind you today that you are NOT a robot! There is so much more to you than how much you can accomplish, and how "good" you are at what you do, and how few errors you make. We are not designed to be productive. We are meant to live.
We are human. To be human is to be dynamic. We feel. Some days we are in a funk. Some days we feel so much joy we think we might burst. There are days where we can fly through the things we wish to accomplish. There are days when we lay on the couch and binge watch Netflix, or just goof around with the kids, eat pancakes, and nothing gets done.
I say all this, so you remember its okay to go easier on yourself. Maybe we are more efficient, and effective, when we allow ourselves the room to experience the messy, and beautiful aspects of life that don't fit neatly into our box, that sometimes throw the whole agenda askew. Perhaps, it's worth finding out.
How are you going to embrace your humanness today?
P.S. Share about your experience with productivity, expectations, and honoring your humanness below. I look forward to hearing from you.
May we nourish our collective heart this holiday
As we honor Thanksgiving this year, whether gathered with loved ones or resting in solitude....
May we feel safe to be as we are, in our bodies, minds, and souls.
May we acknowledge the provision that life has offered us, and allow ourselves to fully receive that which nourishes and feeds our spirits and flesh.
May we shrug off with grace that which would diminish our light. Allowing it to roll off us, untarnished, and view it through the eyes of compassion and a desire to understand.
May we be fully grounded in our hearts and feel this capacity grow.
May we honor our roots, our personal ancestry, and that of our communities, country, and planet. May we remember that we wouldn't be here without those who came before.
May we honor their love, courage, and hope. The beauty they planted that has flourished through time and strengthened through adversity.
May we also acknowledge their shortcomings. The moments of misstep, and misalignment with deep Truth and Love. The old wounds, personal, and collective, that have yet to heal.
May we recognize this humanness within ourselves too. That we all have these capacities for love, fear, connection, and confusion.
May we find tenderness as we see these places where our souls and communities still ache. May we witness the pain and not turn away. May we say, "I am here with you, brother, sister, friend. We will heal this together."
May we be willing to forgive, and to practice it until we feel it in our bones.
May we have the courage to move into inspired action. Led by the heart, to offer greater healing to ourselves, our families, and the world.
May we trust that our love and joy ripples out into the universe, and serves those who need our gifts the most. May we remember that the choice to live from this place elevates us all.
We Are One.
Thank you for existing. We need you.
With so much love,
P.S. Have a blessing you would like to share with our community? Post it in the comments below.
Navigating times of transition.
This coming Monday marks a significant day for me. It is my last day working at a part-time job I've had for the last three and a half years as a nanny for a little boy, now almost four. I started this position when Embrace Your Essence was still a fledgling, and wasn't quite able to support itself on its own yet. Leaning into my background in early education, and spending a couple afternoons a week with this little kiddo has provided great fulfillment and joy, and also given Embrace Your Essence the breathing room it needed to grow without unnecessary demands.
Of course, over this time, both the business and the child have grown and both have different needs now. Embrace Your Essence is now in a place where it is sustaining itself, but also requiring more time and space to flourish as it continues to grow. A few months ago this became undeniably clear to me, and after a conversation with the family, I've been making the transition out of nannying and into Embrace Your Essence even more fully.
Over the course of the last several months as this has been evolving, I have been doing my best to honor the process of this transition. As the precipice of change is so close, these ways of integrating and moving through have been very poignant on my mind.
As many of you may be in transition times yourself, I would like to share some of the key pieces I've been reminded of for moving through with grace.
Get yourself plenty of space. Times to be still or allow yourself to not actively be doing something gives room to integrate all the energetic shifts that are happening under the surface. Breathe. Meditate. Sleep. Gaze out the window, or lay on the grass. Though I did mention stillness, conscious, present movement can be supportive too (such as yoga or an easy walk with the intent to be with yourself and your experience). There may be many facets of your experience that need to be witnessed so they can fully move through and out of you. If we rush around, or are constantly engaged in activity, it delays the processing of these pieces. There is nothing wrong with this, just know that they will peak their head up later to receive the attention they need. You have permission to slow down, and to say no to certain things if that feels like it will give you the room you need to process.
Get support. We all need others to help buoy us up, especially when things are in flux. Turn to people you trust who can listen, who are willing to offer nourishment in the ways you need it. Eat good food. Lean into community. Ask for what you need. Look for the ways you are provided it. Allow yourself to receive from those with whom you feel safe.
Accept and allow discomfort. Transitions bring up a whole slew of emotions. Excitement, fear, grief, hope, and everything in between. All of it is valid. All of it needs to be seen. Some of it you may be more comfortable with than others. Witness and breathe into it, and cradle it. If you can, catch ways your mind may be trying to protect yourself from fully feeling everything that is there. For instance, I noticed myself continually contemplating the appropriate goodbye gift for the family and little boy. Even though I had landed on something, for at least a month, my mind kept returning to it thinking it wasn't enough. I held this though pattern with open curiosity, knowing there was something more to this, and wanting to see how it might relate to my healing. Finally, it occurred to me. A part of me felt that if I found the perfect gift to encompass all the beautiful, rich experiences we've had together over the last three years, that it would have been a gateway for all my emotions. No such object exists. I had to trust that the unfolding of each experience we shared together in that particular moment was enough. My responsibility instead, was to sit with the full range of emotions that were present for me.
Honor where you have been. In the space and cradle of support, reflect on what has unfolded within you as a result of the experience that is ending or beginning. How has/is your soul growing and unfolding? What do you have access to now, that you didn't have before? Clarity, compassion, freedom, love, awareness, truth.... Connect with gratitude within your heart for what you have received and learned that you are taking with you.
Nourish hope. With most, if not all, transitions, something is ending, so something new can begin. The presence of the unknown makes itself unavoidably clear. At various points within the transition, fear can rear its head at the mere thought of the unknown. Sit with this discomfort, and as you do, also listen for the inklings of love and support that may drop themselves like breadcrumbs along your trail. Note them, cherish them, and put them in your pocket. Remind yourself of them when fear or doubt shows up. Move slowly if you need to to trust that you are truly safe to move forward. Course correct if needed.
Transitions can be big on the surface like a job change, moving, birth, death, or shifting through different phases of life (this includes our own phases, but also when our children, parents, and significant others move through them too). But sometimes, they show up more subtly, like letting go of a habit or belief. No matter where you may find yourself if your in transition, I encourage you to explore the processes shared above and see if they feel beneficial for you. If you feel inclined to share, comment on our blog or send me an email, and let us know what transition you are in and how you are supporting yourself.
With grace and compassion,
The conundrum that vexes many heart-centered people
I was speaking with a client recently, and through our conversation it was clear that she had been aware of things that others around her didn't seem to notice. She could tell when something was up with her loved ones even when they tried to hide it, and she seemed to have a sense of what these people needed. She could see them, or really, she could feel them. She was well aware of the pain around her, and also of the beauty and love that others sometimes could not see. It became clear: she has always been an empath.
"Now that I know I'm an empath, does this mean that it is my job to save people if I know they are suffering?" she wondered.
No, it does not. We do not have to whoosh in and rescue loved ones and strangers, because of this intuitive awareness we feel in our bodies. We also do not have to completely block ourselves off from the world, and disassociate to protect ourselves. There is a middle way. A path that we can traverse where we remain connected in our hearts and conscious of what is unfolding around us, but we remained grounded in what is our true responsibility: ourselves. We remember that also applies to everyone else. It isn't always easy to practice this when have been living the majority of our lives enmeshed or detached. But with a fair dose of self-compassion, and patience, we can connect with the strength and kindness we need to navigate life fully present. We will be exploring this life-long practice, and supportive wisdom to soak in during the Empowered Empath series which begins a week from today.
If you are curious, you can learn more here.
Feel the pull to step in with us? Three spots remain available as of today. Book & pay online, email, or call 608-335-1934.
No matter whether you find yourself with empathic abilities or not, I invite you to notice if you have any tendencies to take responsibility for other people's problems, or to distance yourself from discomfort. Explore for yourself ways that you can maintain autonomy for your experience, and surrender any burdens outside of that. I'd love to hear what you notice. Share your comments below, or send me an email.
Hope you are well,
Spring invites the shedding of protective layers to allow for new growth.
Spring is on our doorstep, my friends. Do you feel your vital energy stirring within you as the daylight and glimmer of warmth in the air calls us to awaken our sleepy bones? As you invite in this freshness into your being, and shake off sluggishness, we can easily get swept up in the joy, excitement, and eagerness of what is to come, desires for connecting with the outside world, and plans to take action in your life and the broader community. Spring coaxes the fire within us. While this energy of the season can be a beautiful and important catalyst, there is an aspect of this early phase of the season that, as a culture, we often overlook: tenderness.
The buds on the trees have begun to shed the protective waxy coating that shielded them from the winter chill, but have yet to unfold. Many of the seeds within the ground are breaking down their growth inhibiting hormones that have kept them dormant, and are preparing to reach for the soil's surface, while some resilient pioneers have already extended their bright green shoots out of our monochromatic landscape. A new cycle of life is emerging. Exciting, indeed. But we must acknowledge this life is still vulnerable. Without the appropriate conditions, some of this life will not make it through the season. A couple of hard frosts, hungry critters, or a good natured but absent-minded person trampling on the young sprouts may impede the growth of these plants. There is a softness, openness, and rawness to this process. Here they are, bursting forth. Will they have the opportunity to develop the strength, the roots, and perhaps, eventually, bear fruit? Time will tell.
In the natural world, and even the human community, many of these occurrences are beyond our control. Pause for a moment. Does this bring up a helplessness in you? Breathe into this space. Especially with the conditions present in the world now, and the movements unfolding, there can be a sense of urgency, of "this needed to be done ages ago!", of our desperation for change fueling our action. The fire awakening within us is supported by this energy of spring. But if we don't acknowledge the tenderness, helplessness, or vulnerability within our experience, we can act without full consciousness and connection, without the care and support that we need to move into effective action.
So, let's take a moment to pause and reflect.
Without the support that we need, we can feel susceptible to the world around us. But if we allow ourselves to receive nurturance for what is coming forth within us, the softness and tenderness has a resiliency that can break away the barriers we had in place, and withstand the hardships.
From Verse 43 of The Tao Te Ching,
"The softest thing in the universe
Overcomes the hardest thing in the universe.
That without substance can enter where there is no room.
Hence I know the value of non-action."
(Translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English)
There you are, my friends. I'd love to hear what those questions bring up in you, and how you balance the duality of the fire and action of Spring, with the tenderness, and rawness of it. If you feel inspired to share, comment below or send me an email. Always a pleasure to hear from you.
Blessings for love, resiliency, comfort, and growth for you, and us all,
Reiki Master Teacher and Owner of Embrace Your Essence