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,
Over a year into pandemic life, its time to unplug....
How has the spring been unfolding for you thus far?
I've been noticing some collective themes during this phase of pandemic life:
One of my beloved friends recently compared these times to her experience running a marathon. She said, right now it feels like being on mile 22 with the end in sight, but there's still a ways to go. The pain and exhaustion of what we've been through is catching up with us. We know we can make it to the end, but it still feels so far away.
So here I am to tell you, my friends: "You can do this. We can do this. We've come this far. Catch your breath if you need to. Refuel. Then keep going. We'll get there."
What kind, encouraging things can you cheer yourself on about? We've all, no doubt, have tapped into our own unique flavor of resiliency over the last year. Pause for a moment to acknowledge how you've come all this way, despite all the challenges. Even if you're wiped, or your heart is aching, there is still something within you that has helped you get here. Can you acknowledge one to three qualities that helped you navigate this crisis?
Now, to tend to those tender, tired parts of us...
There is so much information, and opinions we've been bombarded with. It's a LOT of input, and we've not had much space to process. My invitation for you is to turn off and step away from the screens. Log off social media, turn off the TV, computers, and radio. Give yourself some time to just be. Lay on your couch. Take a nap. Go for a walk without your devices. Meditate.
What do you notice arising within yourself when you aren't absorbing more information? Witness whatever is here with compassion. Imagine you are airing yourself out, allowing your feelings to be carried up and out to the heavens by the wind. Cry if you need to. Or, scream, or yell, or sing. Move your body. Do an interpretive dance, or shake it out. The sillier you look the better. Offer your feelings as food and compost to the earth as a give away. Listen to the birds going about their spring time activities. Notice the buds on the trees, and the little sprouts emerging from soil after the long winter. Nurture seedlings on your windowsill. Take a bath.
While it is important to stay connected and informed, this time of silence, and reconnection with our bodies, and noticing is just as, if not more, important. Give yourself permission to exhale. We have a lot of resting to do to recover. This is only the beginning. Allowing yourself little windows of time to do this will take some of the edge off, and lessen the amount of processing you'll need to do later. If you need a professional to give you permission to slow down and rest, consider this it!
Alright, that's all I'm going to say for now. Feel free to leave a comment to share with us how you are doing, then go unplug!
With love, and breath,
Gain perspective, even as chaos swirls around, by connecting with the Earth
Check out all of that new life emerging from the upended roots of a fallen tree! Even when things fall apart, they transform and become anew. Harbingers of life. Hold on to hope and patience, dear ones. One day, this whole situation will evolve into something as beautiful and blossom laden as this old tree.
How are you hanging in there today?
I know a lot has been happening each day, and there is much to process. Many of us are working from home now, some of you might not be able to work at all, and some of you may be feeling extra stress if you are in key positions, or in the health field. The kiddos are now at home (at least here in Wisconsin), and rebellious teens may be giving you a run for your money as they struggle with social distancing and staying in. Gosh, this is a lot!
Can you offer yourself some compassion for what you are going through? We are all doing the best we can with this, adjusting as much as possible, so we can navigate through this time. Please be kind and forgiving of yourself, and those you may be sharing space with.
No matter how this pandemic is affecting you, dear one, my heart goes out to you. We'll get through this one day at a time. One breath at a time.
Did you know that today is technically the first day of Spring?
Even as the chaos of the virus disrupts so much of our modern lives, the world is still spinning on it's axis, the sunrises and sets, the birds are chirping, and building their nests, the bulbs are peaking out from the ground. Life is still moving, and abundant here on this planet. Have you taken a moment to pause, turn off the news, and your devices to listen? Have you opened your window to breath in the fresh air, to look at the sky, or listen to the rain?
If you are not under strict lock-down in your community, have you taken a moment to step outside, or go for a short walk? We are fortunate, here in Wisconsin, that we can still enjoy the great outdoors, at least for now. The bonus is that it is even easier to honor the recommendation for social distancing of 6 feet when you are outside. If you are feeling cooped up, and needing to move your body, I encourage you to get out in nature for a spell.
I recorded another short video for you all with a guided meditation to release stress, ground. This will be especially helpful if you find yourself taking on the fear and anxiety of others, and if you can't get outside yourself. I recorded it at the beach near our home, so you can take in the sounds of the waves, birds, and a little thunder at the end. I finished recording just in time! Eek! The video is just under 17 minutes, with the meditation beginning at 3:10.
As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the meditation. What do you notice when you tune into the Earth at this critical time? Share with us in the comments or send me an email.
If you are enjoying these meditations, and want to support my efforts, would you consider making a small donation? You can do so here. Thanks so much!
Much love to each of you,
P.S. I am still seeing clients remotely at this time. I am conducting these appointments over the phone, Zoom/Skype, or email. If you are wanting support, email, call 608-335-1934, or book online to schedule.
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,
Spring invites the shedding of protective layers to allow for new growth.
Spring is on our doorstep, my friends. Do you feel your vital energy stirring within you as the daylight and glimmer of warmth in the air calls us to awaken our sleepy bones? As you invite in this freshness into your being, and shake off sluggishness, we can easily get swept up in the joy, excitement, and eagerness of what is to come, desires for connecting with the outside world, and plans to take action in your life and the broader community. Spring coaxes the fire within us. While this energy of the season can be a beautiful and important catalyst, there is an aspect of this early phase of the season that, as a culture, we often overlook: tenderness.
The buds on the trees have begun to shed the protective waxy coating that shielded them from the winter chill, but have yet to unfold. Many of the seeds within the ground are breaking down their growth inhibiting hormones that have kept them dormant, and are preparing to reach for the soil's surface, while some resilient pioneers have already extended their bright green shoots out of our monochromatic landscape. A new cycle of life is emerging. Exciting, indeed. But we must acknowledge this life is still vulnerable. Without the appropriate conditions, some of this life will not make it through the season. A couple of hard frosts, hungry critters, or a good natured but absent-minded person trampling on the young sprouts may impede the growth of these plants. There is a softness, openness, and rawness to this process. Here they are, bursting forth. Will they have the opportunity to develop the strength, the roots, and perhaps, eventually, bear fruit? Time will tell.
In the natural world, and even the human community, many of these occurrences are beyond our control. Pause for a moment. Does this bring up a helplessness in you? Breathe into this space. Especially with the conditions present in the world now, and the movements unfolding, there can be a sense of urgency, of "this needed to be done ages ago!", of our desperation for change fueling our action. The fire awakening within us is supported by this energy of spring. But if we don't acknowledge the tenderness, helplessness, or vulnerability within our experience, we can act without full consciousness and connection, without the care and support that we need to move into effective action.
So, let's take a moment to pause and reflect.
Without the support that we need, we can feel susceptible to the world around us. But if we allow ourselves to receive nurturance for what is coming forth within us, the softness and tenderness has a resiliency that can break away the barriers we had in place, and withstand the hardships.
From Verse 43 of The Tao Te Ching,
"The softest thing in the universe
Overcomes the hardest thing in the universe.
That without substance can enter where there is no room.
Hence I know the value of non-action."
(Translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English)
There you are, my friends. I'd love to hear what those questions bring up in you, and how you balance the duality of the fire and action of Spring, with the tenderness, and rawness of it. If you feel inspired to share, comment below or send me an email. Always a pleasure to hear from you.
Blessings for love, resiliency, comfort, and growth for you, and us all,
Reiki Master Teacher and Owner of Embrace Your Essence