Let's face your fears... together
The days are growing darker, the veil is growing thinner. We have entered a time of inward turning here in the Northern Hemisphere. The advancing quiet welcomes our reflection, and often provides the right conditions for subtitles to bubble up from our subconscious.
Our modern Western celebration of Halloween plays with ghouls, goblins and spectres, while offering us a sugar high to face them all. While this can bring fun and fancy, we can choose to explore the theme of these celebrations in relation to our own healing to take them deeper.
(Note: If you've been finding yourself in an activated fight/flight response you may want to skip this reflective practice. Continue reading at the bold text.)
So, dear one, what fears lay present within you?
Oh boy, did you notice yourself contracting or resisting at all to that question? Perhaps that is your body's response trying to protect you from seeing these fears. I invite you to breathe with me, remind yourself that you are safe, and invite the presence of light and compassion to be with you.
What fear wants to be witnessed by you in this moment? Maybe you write it down. Continue to breathe, and observe it with curiosity. Just like with the quintessential boogie man in the closet that we realize is a coat once we've opened the door and turned on the light, so too, may we feel relief when we hold our fears with brave, loving, compassionate interest. We realize things aren't always as they seem. Some of our fears will boil down to these distortions of reality that need gentle correction.
Others may be of another variety, revealing the fragility of the human experience. Things that we may likely or inevitability face at some point: a fear of loss, pain, death, rejection, etc. These things we can run from, pretend that they are not there, or do whatever we can to try to prevent them from happening. Of course, we would do that. These fears and potential realities can be difficult, and scary. We are trying to protect ourselves. But, what if, for this moment, with me and all the other readers here with you, we breathe and acknowledge this fear and how it feels in your body. In truth, we may not ever be able to stop or change some of these fears from happening. But, we can be with our vulnerabilities with compassion. We can know that this is part of the human experience, and each of us is not alone. There are so many people out in the globe who hold this same fear. Though that doesn't take it away, somehow, for me, I find this shared humanness can be a balm for the experience.
When facing these types of "inevitable" fears, I try to remind myself of my own resilience, and tools. That no matter what I might face in the future that I have the ability to move through that experience, and ask for help if I need it. I remind myself of the times that I have faced my fears, whether by choice or life dragging me through them. I see that those experiences I've survived, and perhaps I've gained greater wisdom or tools as a result.
Sometimes though, working with our fear is something we need to do in a safe, supportive environment. We might need to untangle stored trauma in our bodies to release us from the fight/flight response. Soothing our nervous system, and coming to a place of regulation is key. If this resonates, you might find Reiki, or working with a skilled trauma-informed practitioner supportive.
No matter how you might find yourself today, remember you are not alone, you matter, and there are loving forces in the universe out there to support you, you just have to ask.
Feeling brave? Want to share with us one of your fears, or how you are feeling after sitting compassionately with them? Let us know in the comments.
Sending lots of love,
P.S. Reach out if you need support! :)
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.
During my work with clients over the last month, I have been noticing a theme that many (including myself) have been facing particularly strongly—our relationship with the unknown.
The uncertainty, of course, is always there. Though some of us may be becoming more aware of its steady presence as we face weather extremes, the upcoming elections, or the unique details of our personal lives.
The question is, as we remember that we are part of larger systems unfolding on a course all their own, how are we relating with ourselves?
Are we freaking out with anxiety, fear, rage, or sadness? Are we scrambling for control, some way to escape, or blow off steam? Are we able to access a sense of faith, and able to ride the waves that are washing in? Maybe you vacillate between these realities depending on the moment.
No matter what your experience is, I would like to invite you to offer kindness, and compassion for yourself. We all want to be safe, loved, healthy, and happy. When we sense these qualities may be in jeopardy, it is natural to respond in effort to preserve them. We all have this instinct.
Sometimes, I wish I had a book that could tell me the details of everything that is to come, and the best way to face it. I would reference it in these times of uncertainty, and share it with you all. But, alas, we all know no such thing exists.
Yet, as I look to the trees during this change of season from summer to fall, it is as if they are guiding, "Gather your resources. Soak in all the nourishment you can. Let all the goodness you have encountered infuse into your being. Fill up your reserves—the deep wells within you—with all the love that has freely washed over you. This has been there, and still is (in case you had any doubt), just like the light from the sun that shines indiscriminately on all of life on Earth.
Then, my friends, shake off the empty shells. The vessels that once were vehicles of life that are now hollow. Shed the old skin, the fading coat, the crumbling leaves. Let the winds of change carry them effortlessly away. You don't need them any more. They served their purpose. Honor them for what you experienced through them. Then let them rest. They will be renewed in their own time in this web of life."
I look to the trees, and this I remember.
What unknowns are you facing right now? How are you working with them? Share your experience with us below, or send me an email.
Wishing so much love, freedom, and trust for each of you.
P.S. Tired of facing the uncertainty alone? Reach out, and we'll walk the path together.
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,
Reiki Master Teacher and Owner of Embrace Your Essence