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...
What kind of world do you want to live in?
Over the last few months, as we all have been adjusting moment by moment to navigate the coronavirus pandemic, we've been provided with a unique opportunity. Such dramatic shifts in our daily routines, and oscillating in and out of the old ways of operating offers us new perspective. Some may have had more chances to pause amidst the uncertainty. Though even for those who have had to rush around to ensure survival, this experience has offered us all the chance to reassess.
In sessions, I've heard some of you sharing how much calmer and more supported you feel working from home, and having less pressure to rush off to so many activities. I've heard others sharing excitement about how the Earth gave a sigh of relief with less pollution, but not with how we are all using so much more disposable PPE materials which are inundating our landfills. Others have been grappling with the blatant disparities of class, and color have come to the forefront as we see how socioeconomics and race have played out in one's increasing exposure to the coronavirus. Those are just a few observations I've heard from clients over the last few months.
So, let's pause for a moment, and contemplate these questions:
While the vision may feel distant or removed from the current reality, know that things are shifting. Many of you have told me you can feel it. I can too. If we hold to our dream, and let it guide our choices, it will support us in cultivating this new world.
Though I have been dreaming this for a while, it wasn't until the last few months that I felt that I might see aspects of this transpire in my lifetime. My longing has been for us to come into right relationship with ourselves, humanity, and the planet. A world where we live with reverence, and respect for all of the beings that share this floating rock in space. That we remember to consider how our actions will affect seven generations in the future, as so many indigenous cultures have practiced. A world where we remember what is important: we take care of each other, forgive each other, hold each other with compassion, and laugh and play together. That we witness and embrace those who are hurting, and/or lashing out without judgement rather than ostracizing them. I imagine that if enough of us live by similar ideals, that if/when the old, unsustainable structures crumble, we will have woven a safety net that will cushion the landing for those who have lost the only thing they've known. We will help them back to their feet, and we will move forward grounded, grateful, and healing together.
So, dear one, I would love to hear your dream, and answers to those questions. Please share with us in the comments below, so we can inspire each other, and remember we are not dreaming up these new ways alone.
Finally, an announcement: For those of you who are feelers, sensitives, or empaths who have been hoping and wishing to find a way to surrender overwhelm, confusion, improve boundaries, self-care, and embrace your gifts, you will want to join us for this upcoming virtual series. The Empowered Empath begins Tues July 21 and runs for five weeks on Zoom. Because this is a virtual class you can tune into the live class (or recordings) from anywhere around the globe. I can also accommodate a larger group so feel free to share with your empathic friends! I'm offering this on a sliding scale to help out during these trying times. See full class details here.
If you feel inspired to jump in, I look forward to working with you!
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,
Delight in Your Aliveness
The French have a term "joie de vivre", meaning a delight in being alive, a carefree enjoyment of life, or exultation of spirit. After facing some of my own "demons" over the last few months—a fear of loss, and death—I had the realization that an antidote for many of our fears is to live fully alive. Embrace the present moment for what it is, allow ourselves to be who we really are, follow the little (or perhaps strong) nudgings of our heart, love those in our life fully, and be willing to express that, and delight in the simple pleasures of life. If we allow ourselves to be all that we are, gracefully let go of what we are not, and let our day be guided by our inner joy, our fears dissolve.
Perhaps you will find it as the wind grazes your face, in the scent of blooming milkweed, from the kindness of a stranger, watching a child squeal with glee, making a step toward that trip you have always wanted to take, giving in to your soul's urging to pick up a cello and explore how the friction of the bow on strings produces pure sound, or picking up the phone to repair a relationship with a beloved.
My question for you is, how can you step into this joie de vivre in some way today? How can you allow yourself to be more fully You? If you feel inspired, practice this in a least a small way everyday.
Share how you personally cultivate joie de vivre in the comments below.
Reiki Master Teacher and Owner of Embrace Your Essence