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,
Become the Medicine
As others conspire for tumult, I invite you to join me in purifying our hearts, minds, and bodies, and holding a vibration of peace.
I've created a 30 minute guided meditation for us to get grounded, radiate our light, and maintain a frequency of peace and compassion in our communities and country. After the violence at the Capitol last week, and the upcoming inauguration I felt called to create an offering that would help us transmute the destructive energies that are arising. Meditate with me to find your own inner peace despite the turmoil. If you feel steady and grounded in your light, and called to be of service, join me in forming a figurative circle of light around our state and national capitols. While we cannot control the actions of others, we can be a healing presence that inspires others to awaken, and shift course if they are ready and willing. Together, we can be the medicine.
Share this meditation freely and widely. I offer it in service.
Embracing the darkest time of the year.
Here we are... we have entered the darkest, coldest months of the year. I will admit, this is one of my favorite times. Perhaps, it's because I'm part Norwegian, or that I'm a bit crazy. ;) But as I look out the window, I feel embraced by a blanket of clouds, and imagine nature is saying, "Dear one, rest with us, daydream with us, relish the quiet. Replenish your reserves. Soon we will be exuberantly moving again, but, for now, rest."
For many, perhaps you, I know this time of year can be trying. Especially if you have Seasonal Affective Disorder, or, frankly, don't enjoy the snow, and cold. This may be a time that you hope to get through as soon as possible. I get it. We are all wired differently. No matter what your feelings are about fall and winter, I invite you to explore with me how we can make the most of it.
Imagine what is instinctive for us to do (or not do) this time of year. What knowing is carried within your bones, and tissues? Knowing passed down from your ancestors, who at some point were living closely with the land. The instincts of the human animal within you. Outside of the pressures, and expectations of our culture, what feels natural for you this time of the year?
Though we live in a culture with electricity, and technology that is ever-changing and grasping for our attention, our instinctual roots run deep. We often are so distracted by the buzz of modern society that we forget that these roots inform so much of who and what we are.
How can you honor the shift that is natural for us to make this time of year?
Perhaps you may remove some things from your to do list so you allow more time for rest and sleep. You may replace certain activities with more contemplative ones like meditation, or journaling. Meaningful community connections may draw you, much like the hearth fire and stories our ancestors would share helped them remain tightly knit and nourished during the winter months. Cherished daylight hours may beckon you out for movement to balance the dark.
No matter what you choose to include, surrender, or shift this season, I encourage you to contemplate what will nourish you, help you integrate the past year, and support you in feeling full and ready to face our next season of activity that will come in the spring and summer.
I'd love to hear what insights come forth, and any shifts you decide to make this season. Feel free to comment below.
P.S. Does receiving healing and energetic support fit into how you would like to be nourished this winter? Email, or book online.
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.
Things are not as they seem.
In the Land of Smoke and Mirrors, do not believe everything you think.
The thoughts a barrage of unworthiness, hatred, fear, despair. Taunting us with a seemingly unending list of evidence proving this dark, grim reality. The haunting visuals, words, and feelings, can echo in our minds.
My friend, do not fall prey to these specters of your mind.
Moving through our darkness, and the themes it takes at different times of our lives, please, my friend, remember: things are not as they seem.
The show these parts of our mind create, with their lurking shadows, distorting flashing lights, and ominous voices, can distract and confuse, paralyze or enrage.
Please, my friend, remember, this is just a stage.
If nothing else, remember that this is not real.
Call to the light. Remember that it exists.
Sometimes, looking up, seeing that the light is still there, amidst all the confused mess, is enough to beam us out, and give us a wider perspective.
Other times, it may be like traversing through a dark, slippery cave, seeking the crack where a small glimmer of light enters. As you feel your way through the shadows, my friend, remember, that things aren't as they seem. Take your time, remember the light. Remember that love exists. Follow your nose to fresher air, and trust that I am here with you. Though it may seem it sometimes, you are not alone.
When you've made it to higher ground and fresher air, when the tenuousness of your journey has passed, breathe.
Perhaps, pause, look back, and see things for what they really are.
As the superfluous special effects begin to deflate, and special lighting dies down, do you see the man behind the curtain, the boggarts, the path through the "fun house" more clearly?
What was this elaborate, convincing, and even painful display all about?
Underneath it all, you may notice a small kernel of truth. A need. A longing. An ache for love, acceptance, peace, belonging, healing, safety, freedom, to be seen. A call to receive something that a part of you may have been needing deeply for so very long, a part of you hidden in shame, and a vulnerable hope that its need may actually be met.
Now your path is more clear. Learn to invite in this love, compassion, and awareness. Trust that you are worthy to receive it. You are.
If you are traversing through darkness, your Land of Smoke and Mirrors, or know someone who is, you do not have to navigate through it alone. Reach out to someone who can help you remember what is True, to call out Illusion, and feel your way back to your connection to light. I'm no stranger to these lands, and would walk through it with you in a second if you ask. I've got my torch bright and blazing and at the ready to help us find our way through.
With so much love for you,
P.S. If a thought feels like sh*t when you think it, it doesn't contain fundamental Truth.
Reiki Master Teacher and Owner of Embrace Your Essence