The Returning Light
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.
Where are the little glimmers of light and beauty?
March of 2020 I was signed up to take an ancestral healing training with shamanic practitioner Debra Morrill. Shortly before, the Covid outbreak hit, and, like so many other things, the class was postponed until it was safe to reconvene. While we waited, Debra and my teacher Ana Larramendi, her host, suggested that we go on a shamanic journey to connect with one of our ancestors that had survived a pandemic in their time. Since we all were here, no doubt at least one family member had made it through similar times. Now, about two years into the pandemic of our era, I've been reflecting on the wisdom that came from that journey.
I was led to a woman in France during the bubonic plague. She lived with one or two other people, and I could see that in time one of them would succumb to the Black Death while quarantined away in a separate room. My ancestor kept to herself as the sickness spread around her town.
When I asked what helped her move through those times, I saw her going out into her garden behind the house. Looking up at the sky, the sun radiated down on her face, the light and warmth melting away some of her preoccupation, burdens, and grief. In that moment, she was alive and she could feel. She bent down, plucked a vibrant strawberry, and delighted in its sweet juices. As the Black Death spread around her, these visits to the garden kept her connected with enough light and enjoyment to sustain her through those years.
I planted several strawberry plants in my garden the spring after I did that journey. It was too late to truly enjoy their fruit that year, but I grew other things in the meantime. By June of 2021, the strawberry plants had established themselves. I would step out each morning, my shadow cast over the leaves, crooning as I gently searched for tender, ripe berries. Inevitably, I would find a few. Then I would stand eyes closed, slowly savoring the sun-warmed crimson flesh as the morning sun glimmered through the trees on my face.
These moments, and moments like these... snuggled with my kitties feeling their steady purr and poofy fur, laughing at a silly comedy, feeling snowflakes land on my face, receiving a small act of kindness or shared humanity from a stranger or friend, these seemingly small things have helped sustain me, and tap into resiliency. While there has been so much constriction, challenge, and loss over these last two years, there are still little glimmers of beauty hiding under the leaves. We just need to take a moment to pause, look, and allow ourselves to receive it.
What has helped sustain you during these times? What has brought comfort, relief, or even joy? Share with us in the comments. If you haven't found much of these qualities in your life lately, how can you make space for it to enter, even amongst the struggle?
With lots of love and care,
Over a year into pandemic life, its time to unplug....
How has the spring been unfolding for you thus far?
I've been noticing some collective themes during this phase of pandemic life:
One of my beloved friends recently compared these times to her experience running a marathon. She said, right now it feels like being on mile 22 with the end in sight, but there's still a ways to go. The pain and exhaustion of what we've been through is catching up with us. We know we can make it to the end, but it still feels so far away.
So here I am to tell you, my friends: "You can do this. We can do this. We've come this far. Catch your breath if you need to. Refuel. Then keep going. We'll get there."
What kind, encouraging things can you cheer yourself on about? We've all, no doubt, have tapped into our own unique flavor of resiliency over the last year. Pause for a moment to acknowledge how you've come all this way, despite all the challenges. Even if you're wiped, or your heart is aching, there is still something within you that has helped you get here. Can you acknowledge one to three qualities that helped you navigate this crisis?
Now, to tend to those tender, tired parts of us...
There is so much information, and opinions we've been bombarded with. It's a LOT of input, and we've not had much space to process. My invitation for you is to turn off and step away from the screens. Log off social media, turn off the TV, computers, and radio. Give yourself some time to just be. Lay on your couch. Take a nap. Go for a walk without your devices. Meditate.
What do you notice arising within yourself when you aren't absorbing more information? Witness whatever is here with compassion. Imagine you are airing yourself out, allowing your feelings to be carried up and out to the heavens by the wind. Cry if you need to. Or, scream, or yell, or sing. Move your body. Do an interpretive dance, or shake it out. The sillier you look the better. Offer your feelings as food and compost to the earth as a give away. Listen to the birds going about their spring time activities. Notice the buds on the trees, and the little sprouts emerging from soil after the long winter. Nurture seedlings on your windowsill. Take a bath.
While it is important to stay connected and informed, this time of silence, and reconnection with our bodies, and noticing is just as, if not more, important. Give yourself permission to exhale. We have a lot of resting to do to recover. This is only the beginning. Allowing yourself little windows of time to do this will take some of the edge off, and lessen the amount of processing you'll need to do later. If you need a professional to give you permission to slow down and rest, consider this it!
Alright, that's all I'm going to say for now. Feel free to leave a comment to share with us how you are doing, then go unplug!
With love, and breath,
Honoring the Departed
Receive the blessings of your ancestors, and remember those we've lost this year.
This period, from the end of October into November, is known cross-culturally as a time when the veil between the physical world and the nonphysical is thin. For thousands of years, humans have used this time to connect with ancestors and the spirit realm. Perhaps you already celebrate Samhain or Día de los Muertos, and know the significance and balm of reconnecting with our loved ones lost. Given the year we have all had, where we have been tested on numerous levels, and so many have passed, the healing potential of these practices seem as poignant as ever.
My invitation to you, over the next couple weeks, set aside some time when you can be in intentional reverence or contemplation. Think of the ancestors you would like to recognize. These may be cherished ones you have known who have passed, others who were estranged, or family further back on your ancestral line. How would you like to acknowledge and honor these souls? Perhaps you pull out some photographs, and light a candle, make a family recipe, watch a movie you loved to share, or engage in an activity this person enjoyed. If you did not have closure with this person, you may be called to write a letter to them, expressing how you feel. Seal it up in an envelop, leave it out on an altar, and then bury or burn it after a short time. You'll know when. If you had a particularly challenging relationship with one of these individuals, honor your experience by allowing your feelings to flow. Are there any lessons you learned as a result of your relationship with them? If you haven't already, are you ready to forgive them? If not, what to you need to move closer to forgiveness, so you can heal? No matter who you choose to acknowledge, you may find expressing yourself with a poem, drawing, or song cathartic. Trust what feels appropriate, reverent, and healing for you.
Even if the details of the stories may have been lost to time, we all have had ancestors that survived pandemics as well as times of uncertainty, and unrest. Their strength, wisdom, love, and resilience still lives on in your bones, your DNA. You can call on these compassionate ancestors and ask them to guide you, be with you, and offer you strength to continue on during these times. As you invite these energies, focus on the blessings. If you notice any of their unresolved pain or struggles activating within you, witness it with compassion, and remember it is not yours, and therefore not your job to carry it on. Breathe these burdens down into the Earth with love, freeing yourself and your family line from these energies. As you connect with these ancestors, who knows what kind of insight and healing may emerge for you.
Finally, you may feel called to incorporate a ritual in remembrance of the many who lost their lives this year due to COVID-19, violence, or other causes. Create space for mourning within your personal world and communities. We have been through a lot, and though you have survived if you are reading this, many have not. Let us offer them peace on their soul's journey, and healing and comfort for their loved ones (which may include you). If you are in the thick of grief, remember to lean on the support of those around you. The Reiki and I are here for you too, if you need it.
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As you take this time to honor the departed, please share with us in the comments how you celebrated them, and what the experience was like for you.
Lastly, with the election just around the corner, I ask you all to join me in holding intentions for peace, fairness, integrity, safety, and compassion for all Americans as we exercise our right to vote, determine the results of the election, and await the next term.
Take good care,
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!
Reiki Master Teacher and Owner of Embrace Your Essence
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