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.
Learning to allow in what we most long for...
Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play with your hair. ~Khalil Gibran
I would like to invite you to join me in an experiment.
Is there something you have been wishing to experience more fully in your life?
It may be to feel loved, provided for, safe expressing who you are, to play and feel delight, or other yearning of your heart.
Make note of the quality that rings most true to you in this moment.
Now, imagine you are opening a door to all the ways this can present itself in your life. Hold this with a light curiosity, surrendering (the best you can) the need to control the specifics of how and when it will arrive, and any judgment. For instance, I might ask openly, "I wonder how I'll get to play today."
See if you can notice all the ways the world around you expresses the quality you are looking for. Remember to catch the ways you express it too. If you like, acknowledge the moments in a way that feels good to you (like journaling or photography). Making note of these moments within yourself draws more energy to these types of experiences.
I suggest holding this exploration in mind for the next month, but you can do it for as long as you like. You can also switch to another quality once you feel more connected to it in your day-to-day life. See what transpires.
I'd love to hear the qualities you are choosing to play with and your experiences. Feel free to share with us by commenting below, or sending me an email.
P.S. I want to acknowledge those of you who might have a fear of doing this, because it might "prove" that you are not able to get what you want. First, remember our intention in doing this is not to pass judgment on ourselves or others. Our purpose is to see if we can stretch what we allow into our experience of life. Second, you may want to try "loosening" your idea of what it is you want. If it is something very specific, i.e. "I want so-and-so to do this thing for me, in this specific way, at these times," see if you can figure out what that action means to you. Perhaps it is about being appreciated, getting justice, being safe, etc. Once that becomes clear, if you are willing to let it come to you through other avenues (besides this person, for example), you may be surprised what is already there for 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.
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,
The conundrum that vexes many heart-centered people
I was speaking with a client recently, and through our conversation it was clear that she had been aware of things that others around her didn't seem to notice. She could tell when something was up with her loved ones even when they tried to hide it, and she seemed to have a sense of what these people needed. She could see them, or really, she could feel them. She was well aware of the pain around her, and also of the beauty and love that others sometimes could not see. It became clear: she has always been an empath.
"Now that I know I'm an empath, does this mean that it is my job to save people if I know they are suffering?" she wondered.
No, it does not. We do not have to whoosh in and rescue loved ones and strangers, because of this intuitive awareness we feel in our bodies. We also do not have to completely block ourselves off from the world, and disassociate to protect ourselves. There is a middle way. A path that we can traverse where we remain connected in our hearts and conscious of what is unfolding around us, but we remained grounded in what is our true responsibility: ourselves. We remember that also applies to everyone else. It isn't always easy to practice this when have been living the majority of our lives enmeshed or detached. But with a fair dose of self-compassion, and patience, we can connect with the strength and kindness we need to navigate life fully present. We will be exploring this life-long practice, and supportive wisdom to soak in during the Empowered Empath series which begins a week from today.
If you are curious, you can learn more here.
Feel the pull to step in with us? Three spots remain available as of today. Book & pay online, email, or call 608-335-1934.
No matter whether you find yourself with empathic abilities or not, I invite you to notice if you have any tendencies to take responsibility for other people's problems, or to distance yourself from discomfort. Explore for yourself ways that you can maintain autonomy for your experience, and surrender any burdens outside of that. I'd love to hear what you notice. Share your comments below, or send me an email.
Hope you are well,
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.
It's time to throw your gunny sack in the fire.
Have you ever had an interaction with someone, where they get upset with you for a seemingly insignificant reason? It takes you off guard, and you can't really understand why they are so hot and bothered. Perhaps, eventually that person shares that there is really something else going on for them, and you both realize that the blow up was merely a trigger for what was happening underneath.
Let me introduce to you the "gunny sack." Each of us metaphorically has a gunny sack that we carry around with us. Anytime we feel an injustice and aren't able to forgive, we add it to our gunny sack. Anytime we choose others over ourselves, and we feel resentment because we aren't getting what we need, we add that to our gunny sack. Anytime we hold any sort of grudge or grievance we pack it into our gunny sack. If we don't pay attention, what was a light, clear sack becomes a heavy burden we carry around with us. The weight of others' responsibilities, being unappreciated, and not cared for makes us solemn, detached, and angry. Most of the time we don't say anything, and maybe we even try to pretend it isn't there because it feels so difficult to change. But every once in a while, everything that we have really been feeling, that we have stuffed into our gunny sack (perhaps even from years ago), is knocked from our shoulders and spills out onto those around us, those we care about. It becomes like a oil spill contaminating our environment and covering us all in slimy, goopy, sticky mess. So what do we do about it?
First of all, remember that we are all human. Please be kind and gentle with yourself that you have been carrying this around. It hasn't been easy, and most of us have not been taught how to work with these feelings and situations in ways that honor ourselves AND others. If you are an innocent bystander in the "spilled gunny sack", please have compassion (for both you and the person who is upset). Know that no matter what is expressed, it really has nothing to do with you.
Second, take a moment to tune into what you are feeling. There may be a variety of things going on within you. Give space to all of it. There is room. As uncomfortable as it may seem at first, these feelings will not kill you... that is the illusion of the "heavier emotions" (especially if you have been carrying them for a while). Giving these feelings space is what will bring you relief. Remember to breathe, and offer more and more room for the sensations to be exactly as they are. (Think of this as a practice in unconditional love.) If you feel overwhelmed by the sensations, go one bit at a time. Doing so will help relieve some of the pressure that has built up.
When you're ready, ask yourself what am I really needing here? What core value of mine is not being met? It may be space, solitude, quiet, safety, joy, freedom, appreciation, connection, purpose, etc. Please note, it will not something specific that you "need" someone else to do. If you find yourself going in that direction return to your feelings and give them room to be exactly as they are. Blaming or wanting someone else to change is a diversion from what is really going on. If you follow that blame, you will reinforce what is in your gunny sack and continue chasing your tail.
Once you have a sense of what you need, breathe it in. Feel that the air you are inhaling is saturated with love, joy, appreciation, safety, (whatever your need is). Visualize it going to the parts of you that have been shut off from receiving it. Hear yourself offering kind words filling this need. Be your own best friend. Know that all your needs are met once you allow it. Notice what begins to shift in you.
Eventually, things may shift within you enough that you are ready to empty the injustices in your gunny sack. You can imagine everything you have been carrying being recycled into your core value, or even throwing the sack into a fire so it all is released. You are free.
If you find yourself struggling with any part of this process, receiving energywork can help. It allows you to get out of your own way, and dissolve the gunk while you rest. Let me know if I can help you with this process.
Reiki Master Teacher and Owner of Embrace Your Essence