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,
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.
. . . . .
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,
Where Does the Path Lead?
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.
In the Midst of Big Changes
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,
Feelings Point to Needs
Everything we communicate can be boiled down to a "please" or a "thank you".
Over the past couple years I have been studying the practice of Nonviolent Communication (it also goes by the names Compassionate, or Conscious Communication). This way of connecting was originally shared by Marshall Rosenberg in the 1970s. As the teachings begin to sink in more deeply for me and replace old habits of communicating, I have been humbled by the healing power of this approach, and I wanted to share some of the juicy nuggets of wisdom with you.
The core tenets focus on identifying how we are feeling, uncovering the universal human need underneath it, and then offering empathy for any unmet needs.
Come on a journey with me as we explore this.
For a few moments take nice deep breathes and connect with your body. Tune into what feelings are alive within you.
Some examples are: content, relaxed, exhausted, frustrated, sad, joyful, disappointed, lonely, intriqued, calm, happy, inspired, anxious, torn, overwhelmed, confused, scared, ashamed, impatient, numb, angry, grateful, encouraged, vulnerable, etc.
Note: If something like "I feel so taken advantage of!" comes up, this is a thought and interpretation, not a feeling. In such a case, might you be feeling angry, indignant, sad, disappointed, etc? Acknowledge the presence of the thought, and try to to redirect yourself to the feeling that is within the thought.
Have you identified at least one to three feelings that resonate for you? There may be more, and they may seem contradictory. That is okay. Write these feelings down if it is helpful for you.
In Marshall Rosenberg's work, he says that feelings that are pleasant are a sign that a universal human need is being met, whereas feelings that are unpleasant are a sign of an unmet need within us. When we communicate with others in this space our words convey either a "please": help me meet this need for _________; or a "thank you": celebrate with me, my need for _________ has been met.
Now, let's take a moment to explore what needs may be underneath the feelings you identified. These universal human needs in their essence enhance our quality of life. Here are some examples of needs: safety, acceptance, harmony, predictability, integrity, connection, equality, appreciation, love, self-expression, understanding, respect, clarity, help and support, community, trust, intimacy, meaning and purpose, security, celebration, structure, autonomy and choice, space, fun and play, to matter and belong, mourning, freedom, kindness, responsibility, etc.
Returning to our example of, "I feel so taken advantage of!" we see that there are perhaps feelings of indignation, disappointment, and vulnerability, possibly because the needs for respect, kindness, and appreciation were not met.
As you tune inward, what unmet needs might your feelings be pointing you toward? And conversely, if you are feeling well, what might needs might your feelings be indicating that are being met?
Once you have identified your needs, write them down with the feelings you have identified. Acknowledge within yourself that you are feeling _________ because you are needing _______________ (or your needs for ___________ have been met).
Now, comes the true opportunity for healing. As you hold these needs in your heart, feel or imagine what it would be like if these needs were met. What would the experience of "respect", for example, feel like in your body if you had it completely? Imagine that you can breathe that quality into your being simply by thinking it, as if all the molecules of oxygen that enter your body are infused with ________. Continue to breathe and soak the energy of this in for as long as you like.
So, how do you feel?
Share your experience in the comments or email to share with me privately.
To learn more, read Marshall Rosenberg's book Nonviolent Communication, or visit the Wisconsin Empathy Guild's website to connect with practice groups in the area.
Abiding with the Profound
My heart is in a rock tumbler, but don't feel sorry for me...
Embracing the process, the ripening of the soul.
Over the last few months, a series of events has catapulted me deep within, experiencing the fabric of the universe. Something within me is shifting in a very significant way. And, at the moment, I am not quite sure what it is and which end is up, but what I can tell you is that it is needed, and growth is eminent. I can feel the process churning within me.
Why am I telling you this? Because, perhaps now, sometime in the past, or someday in the future you have or may find yourself in your own unique version of this, triggered by the perfect moment to stir your deeper awakening. Something subtle, but entirely profound operating beneath the surface. If we don't remember to breathe while we hold ourselves and our experience in gentle awareness, it can get painful quick. But if we allow it all to unfold without making anything right or wrong, we cultivate a ripe environment for wisdom to reveal itself to us.
I could disclose the details of the story that has led me here, but that feels like a distraction right now. Perhaps it is something I will share at another time. What I will share with you now is this, a poem I wrote earlier this week that captures the experience emerging within me. May there be something here that feeds your soul.
My heart is in a rock tumbler
but don't feel sorry for me
My heart is breaking open
the zagged edges chipped away
intimately acquainting with the depth of experience
the fabric of the universe
the profundity that is often skimmed over in the day to day
My heart is breaking open
but I do not feel pain
the softness, the compassion, the cradling that accompanies grief
Without fear I surrender myself to the process
that is my grace
I let my head fall back, chest unfurl to the sky, and fully collapse my trying, my "strength"
and find I am held
gently lifted by Grace
That, in time, the lessons within may seep in like rainwater gently trickling through the earth to the reservoir
That I have and am enough
I am that which is beyond love
benevolence, humility, compassion
My heart is breaking open
but do not feel sad for me
Within is revealed the goo of my center, the Truth of my Nature
that which I am becoming
that which we have always been
Blessings Dear Ones,
Reiki Master Teacher and Owner of Embrace Your Essence
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