Sometimes the path forward isn't always clear.
Sometimes life presents us with no-brainer decisions. We reach a fork in the road and it is imminently clear that one of those directions leads to greater fulfillment, and well-being, and less suffering and dysfunction.
Other times we reach a decision point, and it is unclear which direction will lead in alignment with our values and priorities. In some cases, we aren't even sure if we are at a definitive juncture in the road. It's more like we are at sea without a map. We can keep going in the direction we are going, or we can steer the ship 2, 15, or 90 degrees in another course. All of which will lead us to different places, but we don't have a knowing of what the weather will be like ahead or where and when the ship will reach shore.
Sometimes it's really hard to know what to do.
Being with the unknown can be unnerving. I don't know about you, but parts of me certainly feel a lot safer with a guarantee, or reassurance that things are going to be okay or turn out a certain way. Since I haven't been able to procure the guidebook that tells me when x happens turn to page 63, when y happens turn to 243, line 7, I've had to adapt. I may not be able to provide guarantees, but I can practice providing presence, care, and compassion to myself. I can validate that it's hard to be with the unknown, and make space for the feelings of fear or anxiety that arise. For me, I also find comfort in the shared humanity that many other people around the world may be going through similar dilemmas, and that really we all are just making the best judgment calls we can even if it feels like we're aiming in the dark.
So if you are finding yourself in the grey area right now, where things aren't fully clear, I just want to offer you some grace. You also don't have to walk through the grey alone. Reach out if you need some support.
Daylight is waning and the cold ever more present here in the North. Across the globe we continue to see genocide, ignorance, oppression, injustice. It can be hard to live life with your heart and eyes wide open, to be awake to the dysfunction in the whole, in our families, in ourselves. Sometimes it can seem easier to be in denial of what is happening, if you have the privilege to be able to.
During this season, so many traditions have ways to remind us of light despite the growing darkness. We might light candles, or turn on twinkle lights. Maybe we go for walks during the midday sun, or take extra vitamin D. We might connect with prose or scripture that connects us to something deep within us, deep within life. It is an opportunity to remember the innate radiance within us. It might need a little uncovering, or a little fuel, but it is always there.
Winter invites quiet reflection, hygge, and warmth. An opportunity to reconnect with the wisdom of our ancestors and traditions. A chance to reassess, and to see through the darkness. Sometimes, I don't like what I see. The harshness of the world can feel too much for my sensitive soul sometimes. I grieve for the way humans stumble around in the dark hurting each other, without taking a moment to pause and learn to move intentionally through the world. Yet, I remember that there are other souls out there like you. Others who also are uncovering their light, who shine brighter and brighter with each act of kindness, truth speaking, and self-awareness. That we are all like stars in the sky. If we keep our light shining, maybe we help others navigate through the unknown and connect with their light within. If nothing else, it helps us remember that we are not alone to see other lights out there, though the darkness might seem great.
So as this year winds to a close in the coming weeks, and holiday celebrations unfold, I suppose I just wanted to express a little gratitude. Thank you for doing your part. Thank you for your light. Thank you for being a part of this constellation of community. May the light within and around you bring you gentle comfort, and warmth this time of year and always.
Soothe that nervous system
If you have spent any time learning about healing in the last few years, you've likely heard about dysregulation. This is the state we find our nervous system in when we get caught up in survival mode. It might be because of a trigger that actives old wounds, or maybe it is a current stressor that has us anxious, overwhelmed, and feeling like there is an imminent threat.
When we find ourselves dysregulated, it is naturally helpful to focus on regulating ourselves. There are many ways to soothe our nervous system, and get us into a more calm state that allows us to access our problem solving mind, and heal our body.
You might not be surprised to hear that my favorite way to get into this settled state is Reiki. One of the most common experiences people have when receiving Reiki is feeling deeply relaxed, and many fall asleep. Getting into this rest and digest mode allows our body to repair and heal itself, then we are able to face our challenges from a more centered place. Sometimes we even receive insights that provide useful information for moving forward, or seeing our situation differently.
Could you use a little support getting regulated? Reach out and we'll get you some Reiki soon.
The web that holds us can make a real difference when times are tough.
Moving through life on our own is a tricky, if not impossible, task. We all rely on others in some capacity, even if we are resilient, strong and independent. One thing that I've observed over the years is that the more robust someone's network of support is the more grace there is when challenges arise.
I want to acknowledge that systemic factors are at play that can make certain resources more or less accessible based on our race, class, gender, age, ability, etc. Of course, we all need to be making efforts to shift this to make our society more fair and just, so that we all can have the support we need to thrive.
I invite you to take a moment with me to reflect on the support network that you currently have. Take an inventory of what's working well, and if there are any areas that could use extra attention. You might even want to grab a sheet of paper and list the supports you have, so you can see your web in action.
Resources can show up in a whole range of ways. They might be free resources like library books, YouTube channels, or a park nearby. They might be internal skills, or experience, such as repairing a car, growing berries, or first aid. Our connections to people in our life can also be a resource: family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, support groups, or professionals you get services from (therapist, doctor, lawyer, etc.).
The questions I invite you to hold are, "Where do I get my needs met in this area of my life? Or, if I needed help where could I turn to get these met in a healthy and constructive way?"
Areas of Your Life:
Your Body: How do you meet your body's need for food/nutrition, movement, rest, healing from illness or trauma?
Your Home: What helps you manage your home? Including chores, maintenance, paying for necessary utilities/expenses, and cultivating a peaceful or harmonious environment
Dependents: What/who helps you take care of any children, loved ones, pets, plants that may be in your care?
Social Connection: How do you connect with others in ways that feel safe, enriching, and reciprocal?
Emotional/Mental Well-being: How do you tend to your mental and emotional state, including managing current stress, and healing from previous experiences?
Meaning/Purpose: How do you find meaning and purpose and your life? What offers outlets for joy and fulfillment in your life?
How do you feel about the list of supports that you've curated? Perhaps there is gratitude for all that is there to help you. Maybe you are judging yourself about not having things in place in a way you would like them to be. If that is the case, there is room for those feelings, and know that this exercise is not about judgment. It is about bringing attention. With awareness, creativity, and humility we can brainstorm ways to strengthen the areas that need more fortifying. We can begin to flex the muscle of "asking for help." We might also see those areas where systemic oppression might be playing out in our lives or others. It gives us an opportunity to advocate for something different, and connect with organizations that are already doing that work to shift the larger dynamics. Of course, please offer yourself compassion, systemic oppression is a doozy to say the least!
Given all that you've uncovered during this time of reflection, what is one area of your life than you can focus on to cultivate a more robust support network? If yours is feeling pretty fortified, maybe you offer efforts to help that be the case for others. What is one concrete action step you can take?
Cultivating a web to hold us is essential. It makes the day-to-day more enjoyable when things are flowing smoothly, and gives a dose of sanity and a little room to catch our breath when a crisis arises. If you can, weaving this support network before something major shifts can make a big difference. If you are in the thick of tumult, know you don't have to do it alone! Ask for help.
If healing support and a safe place to process feels like something you would like to incorporate into your network, please reach out. I've got a variety of options available depending on what is most accessible to you including: one-on-one sessions, live group guided meditations, recorded meditations, and recommended resource list.
Blessings to you,
Sometimes the most affective approach is one we wouldn't expect
In our culture, we're often taught to rush, force, and contort ourselves. Harder, faster, stronger. When we hurt, we dig in deep to those muscles. No pain, no gain. We don't like how something is so we try to change it to make it fit, or maybe we deny it's existence entirely. (Toxic positivity, anyone?) Maybe we build up walls or brusk defenses. That'll keep those perpetrators out.
All of this is understandable. This is what we've absorbed by osmosis about how to approach life. It's also very human of us to puff up and protect, shut down, or put up walls when we don't feel safe. Sometimes that is exactly what we needed to survive a certain situation. We can be grateful that those survival mechanisms helped us at times when we really needed them.
Then, many times, we get to a point where we are safe, and those strategies become maladaptive. We can continue as is, or we can try for another way.
Sometimes the thing we need most is gentleness. Softness, ease and safety surrounding us, can help us let down our guard and receive the healing we've needed. One of my former business coaches and teachers Mark Silver used to say that gentleness is the antidote to anger. This was a startling ah ha for me. As I began practicing it, I realized that gentleness disarms the anger. There is no longer anything for the anger to fight against. Gentleness also reflects back how hard we've been trying to protect ourselves from getting hurt. As the anger no longer has to defend, our soft underbelly, the tender vulnerability hidden within gets revealed. But we aren't left out in the cold. That gentleness also holds and cradles that vulnerability, airs it out, and soothes the pain. I've seen this happen on all levels, physically with tight muscles that release with gentle touch, and mentally and emotionally as well.
Are there places in your life where you could benefit from offering yourself more gentleness?
Do you need a safe space where someone can offer that for you? Reach out or book a session online.
Fall is upon us. That means, according to Eastern medicine, it is the season of grief and the lungs. I've been learning a lot about how to hold my own grief in the last year after the passing of my father. I've also been noticing many of my clients facing variations of grief in their own life lately, so I thought it timely to write on this topic.
Firstly, feelings of grief can arise from to a variety of experiences. There are the obvious losses like the passing of a loved one. Then there is disenfranchized grief: losses that aren't widely recognized or supported by society, like the loss of a loved one to suicide, or addiction; loss of a pet, or patient; letting go of an idea of and connection to family due to abuse; loss of an identity, job, or home; loss of hopes and dreams (miscarriage, infertility, divorce, lay offs, the childhood you wish you had had), and more. We might experience anticipatory grief as a loved one declines from illness, or addiction, before the "official" loss actually occurs. There are many shades of grief, contexts of loss. It's helpful to remember that our experience with each scenario will be as unique and multi-faceted as our relationship with that being, dynamic, or aspect of our life.
Our American culture doesn't really create much space for grief in our day-to-day life. The support structures that many of us need aren't woven into the fabric of our social spheres unless we are a part of a community that consciously acknowledges and tends to that aspect of living and dying. It can feel lonely being in a process of grieving, and we may judge ourselves that we should be over it or move on, or that our feelings may not be warranted because it might not compare to someone else's loss/experience. I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone grieving say that once the funeral is over, or a few weeks have passed that many people stopped asking them how they are doing. Most workplaces only offer a few days of time off for bereavement, and some may not offer grace for the sense of "nonfunction" that some people experience following a loss. Not to mention, the alienation that some feel for having a disenfranchized loss, because lots of society doesn't know how to hold the mixture of uncomfortable and conflicting feelings that can arise from a loss related to suicide, or abuse, for example. It's easier for some to not look or talk about it. In turn, it can create a weird feeling in griever, a sort of cognitive dissonance, and a need for someone to "Please, acknowledge the elephant in the room!"
I could go on, but for now, I will offer a few final thoughts and suggestions. Take what resonates, and leave the rest. Since grief is so unique and personal, not everything may speak to you.
For the Griever:
For Those Who Care for Someone Who is Grieving:
Hope this helps if grief is showing up in your life these days. If you are grieving, is there anything else important that needs mentioning? Share with us in the comments.
Lots of care and comfort for you,
Wisdom from my father.
This one goes out to my pops, Bob the Nice Guy.
Today, and all days, but, especially today, I remember him.
During his time, this kind, gentle, creative soul emanated a love that I'll be nestled within for the rest of my life. Dad modeled how to be a brave, compassionate human, spirit undampened by challenges. He believed in me, and this instilled a confidence in myself to step into the world as I have. He gave me my goofy, and sometimes ridiculous sense of humor, for better or worse. I'm sorry? ;)
There aren't words for all that I could say. Perhaps someday, I'll reach across time and space to him in the Great Beyond, capture the words in poetry like the great mystics Hafiz and Rumi, bottle them up as some elixir to share with you. But that is for another day.
What I have for you today is wisdom he shared with me often during my early decades:
"Life is what you make it."
When I muse over this, I meditate on the essence of what I want to cultivate in my life. Compassion, kindness, joy, wonder, acceptance, love. I aim to help myself and others find relief from pain in healthy ways. To delight in the unique facets of life. To laugh and marvel at the beautiful intricacies that are revealed when we pay attention.
I suppose there are some specific "outcomes" that maybe, someday, I'd like to experience, but I hold them lightly now. I know that life is more than the boxes we check off. It takes twists and turns. Sometimes it pans out as expected and sometimes not. A lot of it we can't control. But the way we choose to show up with what is given, we can. I do believe care, love, wonder, and shared humanity exist in all these moments, though sometimes it can be hard to find or access. Yet, if I trust in my ability to find these qualities within myself and the world, there will be a little more internal grace, no matter what plays out. Even during the hard stuff.
In the months following my dad's passing last fall, the prospect of Father's Day rolling around without him felt pretty grim. Around the new year, inspiration came of an epic adventure to connect with him, and let a shared dream finally come true. This gave me a light and a focus amidst the grief, a way to make a long-held vision come to life. As you read this, I am likely in ceremony, honoring this sweet soul and our shared love of mountains, land, and nature. Making a bit more magic out of this life, and if I'm going to really make Dad proud, a joke of it too. But more on that later... right now, I'm busy.
Happy Father's Day.
So it goes.
P.S. Dad would want me to share this with you. :) If you want to sing out, sing out...
Strategies to help you get through
Do you have certain days or times of the year that bring up "stuff" for you?
For some, these might be holidays, like our upcoming Mother's Day. It could be birthdays, or death days of loved ones lost, or perhaps anniversaries of significant challenging events (like a car accident, move, break up, etc).
It is not uncommon to feel in a funk on such days, and the time leading up to and following them. It's like the energetic echo of those experiences still lingers, and we experience it as that date rolls around. Sometimes we can reduce the energetic charge of those anniversaries by working through our experience in a conscious way. Or, we might just want to plan to be extra kind and loving to ourselves, knowing we might feel tender, vulnerable, or cranky (and that's okay).
If you relate to this, and have an anniversary you would like to support yourself through, here are some thoughts to consider.
First, know that it is okay to be feeling off. Give yourself permission to feel and make space for what comes up. If you are not experiencing what mainstream society says you're "supposed to feel" (on holidays, for instance), that is okay. You are not alone. Many people struggle on these days too.
Contemplate ways to take care of yourself, then make a plan to make it happen. Here are some ideas to get you rolling:
What speaks to you?
Do you have an anniversary coming up? How will you tend to yourself?
Sending lots of love to you, no matter what might be bubbling up for you at this time.
Catch some z's...
Before I began my professional Reiki practice, I was an early childhood teacher. Everyday after lunch, the kiddos would pull out their mats, grab their blankets and stuffed animals. We'd cue up the Enya and pull the shades as the kids got cozy. The other teachers and I would tuck them in, and rub the backs of the children who wanted help falling asleep.
Sometimes I joke with my in person Reiki clients that I went from being a nap assistant for kids to adults, as I help "tuck them in" while they climb under the blanket on the massage table. Once the Reiki gets flowing, now and then, I'll get a snorer on the table. They weren't the first, nor will they be the last. (I've certainly been one of those people too!) It honestly brings me a lot of joy that people experience enough comfort and safety to let go during a session. I notice this during remote work too.
The soothing energy of Reiki often helps put people so at ease that they settle into a meditative or sleep state. This is where the magic happens, and the body repairs and heals itself.
In this world of hustle and bustle, and stress, sometimes we have a hard time drifting to sleep and getting rest. Sometimes we need help to calm and get ourselves regulated. If you need assistance with this, I've been in training for a long time. ;) I'd be happy to support you with a session, or perhaps you'd want to try one of my new meditations to settle.
Goodnight cow jumping over the moon...
Ease gently back into the world.
Happy Spring Equinox,
Today, we find the light is balanced with the dark. Here, in the Northern Hemisphere we are going to get to enjoy more and more daylight until the Solstice in June.
I've been reflecting a lot lately about how we've just lived through three years of the Covid era. My conversations with clients and others have shown that this has felt like a bit of a time warp. It's hard for many of us to take in that this lasted three years, yet we also experienced moments that felt like an eternity or a standstill. My life changed in so many ways, and I can imagine that may be true for you too.
I noticed that in the earlier days of the pandemic there were several voices telling us to be aware that we were moving through a collective trauma. As such, we should be mindful, gentle and forgiving with ourselves. To adjust our expectations of ourselves, because we were doing the best we could in survival mode. Perhaps, it's just me and the information that I consume, but it seemed to me that message petered out at some point, though we all continued to live through this experience. I think many of us just got tired, and were doing the best we could to get through.
In case you need to hear this today, I want to remind you that the last three years were not business as usual. As things settle, and the light returns, continue to be gentle with yourself. It may take some time to make sense of what we all just lived through collectively, and, of course, what you experienced personally. (I'm waiting for the Ken Burns documentary! ;) ) If you feel tender, or cautious, or just ready to get on with it, I hear you! Allow space for what's there. Be kind to yourself. Try to be kind to others who are relearning what it's like to live again.
Make space to bring with you the wisdom that you've gleaned during this time, and permission to shed the stress and dysregulation that may have come with it. If you feel called, share with our community what wisdom you are bringing with you, or perhaps what you are most looking forward to or hopeful about as the light returns in the comments below.
Wishing you all a gentle, easeful transition into the spring.
Reiki Master Teacher and Owner of Embrace Your Essence