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.
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.
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,
The key step to allow forgiveness to be more than an intellectual thing.
I hope life is finding you well as fall rolls on, and the winter and holiday season approaches for those of you celebrating. Now is a time we can take a deep breath before it all unfolds, and perhaps prepare to dive a little deeper, and turn inward in harmony with the seasons. So as we settle into a steady rhythm again, and take a nice exhale with relief and joy, I would like to pick up where we left off, and explore the nature of forgiveness.
What does it mean to forgive? Many have heard the saying that we forgive, not to excuse the behavior that initiated our grievance, but to free ourselves from the pain. The process of forgiving brings about healing. But how do you do it? Is it enough to think "I forgive you," or to say it?
Healing through forgiveness begins with the desire to find peace, and also claim your power in the situation. This may seem obvious, but I feel it is important to mention, because there may be times that we are still hooked on making someone else (or ourselves) the perpetrator and blaming them. In such a case we aren't even ready to consider viewing the circumstance in another way. A part of us may be juicing the effect of being a victim (we actually feed off of the biochemical response in our body).
When we are ready to find peace, and step into this power, it may not necessarily look like what you would expect at first. The first step in taking this responsibility is to tend to your feelings. What emotions does the said situation elicit, and how do you experience these feelings in your body? Perhaps you feel anger, sadness, despair, rage, powerless, or indignant. How is that emotion currently "living" in your body? Meaning, as you experience the emotion do you feel a flush of warmth in your face and torso, and weakness or emptiness in your chest, heaviness in your head, etc? Once you become aware of what sensations are associated with your emotions and this event, the practice is in allowing yourself to fully feel it exactly as it is in your body, without trying to push it away, or change it into something else. This may take some time. Be patient with yourself. Breathe.
After several minutes, a few hours, or maybe even days (there is no set timeline) of allowing yourself to be with how you feel, eventually the charge of the emotion will start to dissipate. It is possible that you may need to repeat this step several times. There may be more layers of the emotion, or the sensation might morph into something else. Just continue the practice of being with whatever it is, and breathe. If you have been carrying this resentment or guilt around for a while, may take some time.
Once the smoke clears, it is likely you will be able to access a deeper understanding of yourself, what was going on for you at the time, and if there is a nugget of wisdom there for you. You may also be able to see any other individuals involved, or the situation itself from another perspective. There may be lessons here to integrate regarding having healthy boundaries, or self-care. Make note of what you notice.
This is the space where true forgiveness is possible. A state of being where we offer ourselves the attention and compassion we've needed, and a willingness to see and understand the situation from a lens of a broader truth. From here, peace can grow.
So, what has been your experience with forgiveness? Have you been able to find peace with situations which once upset you? If so, what has supported you in doing so? If you apply the above process to cultivate forgiveness, and are willing to share your experience, I'd love to hear from you. Please comment below or send me an email.
Wishing you all deep peace, and a beautiful Thanksgiving.
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.
Here in the United States, election season is in full swing. As debates and interviews air, articles release, and opinions are displayed on social media, chances are you feel a mix of emotions: fear, concern, frustration, judgement of those with other views, righteousness, hope for something better, a desire to do something, ambivalence, hopelessness, etc.
Regardless of your political stance, the dynamics that are at play in our country give us each a chance to look at ourselves more deeply. What we see playing out between the candidates, their parties, and supporters mirrors the conflicts that occur within our own mind. As human beings, we all have a tendency to get caught up in blame games (making others wrong, and punishing ourselves with guilt for things we have done). We can inflate ourselves as a protective mechanism, so others do not see our faults, and insecurities. We dwell on the past. We divide ourselves into Us verses Them, making one group the good guys, and the other the enemy.
As many of the collective energies are feeding off of these divisive dynamics, how can we shift to a more aware space, and perhaps even heal? The key begins with embracing our humanness, our vulnerability. In order to really connect with ourselves, and then in turn with each other, we must be authentically honest, and real. What is underneath our desires? Can we gracefully and compassionately acknowledge the mistakes we have made in our life, and allow others forgiveness for theirs? Are we willing to see that at the core of our views, the vast majority of us have a need to feel safe, cared for, and loved?
When we give ourselves the safe place to truly acknowledge all parts of ourselves, those we like, those we don't, and those that we pretend aren't even there, we create ripe space to transform. We start to see more clearly what things really are. We begin to connect. We begin to listen with willingness and respect. We begin to heal.
No matter what you are feeling now, are you willing to allow compassion to seep in for yourself? How would that look, feel, or sound for you?
Share your thoughts of how you are cultivating compassion during this election session here.
If you would like support in this process, feel free to schedule a session with me.
We are all in this together,
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