Hello Dearest Ones,
I have spent a lot of the last year contemplating a particular word and its concept. I have a dear friend who starts off the year by identifying their word for the year. I didn’t think to identify a personal word for 2020, however, I have had one particular word come up over and over again. This past year, the word found me. It’s a word that has had a lot of influence on how I have processed and interpreted my experiences in 2020 and during the pandemic.
As you may have already guessed, the word is ADDITIVE. In the simplest of terms, it is the value I have used to gauge or evaluate my experiences of the last year. Anything and everything I have been faced with, or have had to make a decision about this year, has been observed through that particular lens. Did it have an ‘additive’ quality to it? If it didn’t, it was not welcomed into my life. In some cases that meant it was uninvited from my life. There are so many things (and people) we hold onto in our lives, that are no longer additive.
As I have had experiences this year, I have asked myself (and often others): Is this experience/ person additive to my life? My career? My health? My understanding and awareness? Additive implies, intrinsically, that something ‘good’ comes from it. That there is a benefit to, or improvement in, some aspect of our life or being as a result of this thing/ person. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be grandly additive, that it has to be earth shatteringly beneficial. It only means that something, maybe something quite small, is improved or benefited.
The fear monsters have come out to play, in force, since the beginning of the pandemic. We have been assaulted from every direction with our personal and collective fears for over a year now. Will we get Covid? Will it kill us or someone we love? Will we be okay financially? Will our business recover? Will our kids be less prepared in life because of online school? Can we give them adequate support at home? Will our African American and Asian friends and family be killed just for walking down the street? Will we get gunned down at our local King Soopers because someone with mental health issues slipped through the cracks? The fears have been incessant.
I have had plenty of experience with fear and its paralyzing (non-additive) nature. The first time fear really overwhelmed me, it took me more than a year to learn how to neutralize it. It seemed so real, and was so good at convincing me that if I didn’t live by it, the earth would give way under my feet. What I learned, when I finally did neutralize it, is that there is not one single additive quality to fear. Succumbing to fear never adds anything positive to our lives.
Now, being aware, proactive and responsive is highly additive. So here is where we can make friends with fear, and use it to help us understand ourselves and our situation better. When fear tries to overwhelm me, I ask it what it is trying to teach me. If I’m bombarded by financial/ professional fears, it is likely that I feel a certain amount of preexisting insecurity in my professional/ financial life. If I have deep fears about my child’s education, it is likely that I already have distrust in the educational system, or in my child’s ability to thrive in academic situations. If, all of a sudden, I have a deep fear of people of Asian decent because the Corona Virus started in that part of the world, it is likely I already carry a fear of difference and xenophobia within me.
At this point in the process, I turn to the fear and tell it, thank you for the insight, now you may go. I have no other use for you. All you will do is paralyze me, and I need to remain active, vigilant and willing to address my new awareness.
I think the opposite of fear is trust. And I have found trust to be incredibly additive. When I choose to trust that I will be okay financially, the knot in my throat softens, and I’m more able to appreciate that I have a roof over my head. When I trust that my child’s academic needs will somehow be met, I relax, and am more able to support them at home. When I trust that all people are inherently good and viruses are not morally or racially preferential, I feel safe, and I am more able to respond when another human is in need of my help and protection.
I have turned to trust over and over again this year. When fear tries to make its way into my heart, I continually turn to trust, for trust is truly additive. I trust that we are exposing and healing deep ancestral, societal practices of injustice. I trust that our children are learning wonderful lessons about ingenuity and making do with what they have. I trust that by becoming more aware of the systemic racism and xenophobia that exist in this country, more and more people will come to know the truth, of the love in their hearts, for all of humanity. I trust that having to stay local and confined will move us toward remembering (or learning for the first time) the importance of Mother Earth to our own well-being. I trust that love will always be more present than hate. And this trust, gives me the fortitude and wherewithal to be actively involved in making all of these changes and truths a reality. Fear, on the other hand, only paralyzes me.
In deep love, and a desire to give you an additive perspective,
Assimilation and Surrender
Hello Dearest Ones,
It’s been a while since I attempted to put words down to share with you. Communication seems to take a bit of effort for me these days. I have experienced this phenomenon before. When it happened before, I had been very accustomed to verbal communication being my gift. All of a sudden, I would get nervous and trip over my tongue a lot when I attempted to speak. My response to that experience, was to turn to the written word to ‘prove’ my ability to think and communicate well. I was in a doctoral program at the time, so it felt important to be able to show my intelligence and communication skills. Turns out, it was a terrific opportunity to fine tune my writing skills. Skills I hold dear.
Back then, my writing skills were already relatively well established, but not as refined as my verbal skills had been, so I determinedly took advantage of the learning that came from having my speaking skills temporarily ‘stifled.’ I say stifled, because it was the environment that I was in that seemed to have tied my tongue. I was anxious and fearful of judgement, which in turn made my thoughts and words chaotic and unpredictable. I had always been more than comfortable expressing my opinions in class, so it was very disorienting to suddenly not feel like I could say what I wanted to say in classroom discussions.
This environment, the collective experience of 2020-2021, and the pandemic, has to some degree ‘stifled’ us all. The collective has felt stuck, and unproductive. Add to that, a lot of fear of financial instability, or maybe the experience of true financial instability, and one becomes very disoriented. We consider ourselves a highly productive society, and for a couple of decades now, have prided ourselves on our busy-ness. So the lack of movement and busy-ness has feel deeply disturbing for many. Of course, there are those of us who have quickly adjusted, and either figured out how to stay busy through the pandemic, or have learned to appreciate and benefit from this different way of engaging with life. Discovering a new pace and rhythm. Many of us, however, will have taken the slower, more circuitous route to learning how to live comfortably with what feels like a very stifling environment.
Wherever we individually fall on the continuum, we are all, by now, moving through the penultimate stages of the process; assimilation, and maybe even surrender. We are finally feeling the effects of integrating our shared and individual experiences of the last year. It is in the assimilation process that we start to integrate new experiences and knowledge into our pre-existing life structure. With assimilation we finally allow this new wisdom to mold us and mold our lives in a new way. We will have gone through different stages of the process: inertia, paralysis, fear, anger, depression, resignation, curiosity and hope; until we finally make it to assimilation. Then, it is in the surrendering that we are able to embrace these shifts, and discover that we actually enjoy the new pace and paradigm. If we are truly blessed, we will come to understand that within this new space, this new way of living life, we have more room to breathe. We have more time to notice, feel and heal.
For me, writing and speaking became challenged in the last year. Our current, collective experience has impacted my voice, because that is one of the central themes in my life. As those things have become less accessible to me, and ultimately less comfortable, what I have turned to is; allowing myself to simply experience things, be with them, witness how they impact me. Did they move me, change me, make me feel heavy or light? Were they ‘additive’ or did they in some way detract from my life? I have been refining my observation and listening skills, since my voice has become somewhat reluctant and stagnant this year.
The communal pandemic experience is likely impacting you in a different way, because you will have a different focus in your learning and evolution for this lifetime. If you haven’t already come face to face with your important life lessons, or you’re having a hard time identifying your central themes, look at what has gotten most stifled or stirred up for you this year. It might give you some really valuable information about what you are trying to accomplish in this lifetime. It could very well hold beautiful hidden wisdom. Wisdom you have been seeking all along, hidden right there in your daily experience of life during a pandemic. How have you reacted/ responded to the shifts in your life? What does that tell you about who you are and what’s truly important to you? These are just a couple of the questions you might be asking yourselves. I would love to hear about your experiences. Please share them with me in the comments.
I love and appreciate you all,
Personal Plastic Ban
Hello Dearest Ones!
How are you all doing? I really do want to know. Send me a note or drop me a line, and let’s catch up.
I have felt somewhat blank inside lately. Words don’t seem to be as available to me. And when I’m not feeling blank, I am feeling disturbed and that there are many cultural and environmental issues that I want to explore; that make me want to scream and yell a bit. I’m not really a ranter (usually), so until I can figure out how to broach those topics with some decorum, I’ll share information on some of the more optimistic and helpful aspects of my current life.
I’ve been working hard to eliminate single use plastic from my life. Even the recyclable kind. Eventually, I will also eliminate the reusable plastic. Although, for now, it feels equally wasteful to not simply continue to re-use my current Tupperware and yogurt tubs. Once they become unusable, they will be replaced with non-plastic products. As you might have noticed in your own lives, neither of these things are easy. Some of the products that I use and need (at least I have still convinced myself of this), are not available without plastic, but I’m trying to be really diligent about it.
When I was a kid, I remember plastic packaging being a lot less common. In fact, I have watched our use (in this country) of single use plastic rise exponentially. None of use had ever heard of plastic bottled water, at lease not single serving, when we were kids. Any soda or juice we drank was in a glass bottle or a can. Then the whole take-out coffee and single serving plastic bottled drink worlds exploded. This isn’t only a plastic issue, but a general waste issue.
I was already starting to shift many of my habits prior to the pandemic, and my efforts have become more definitive since. It may have been a reaction to my complete disgust with all of the take-out that has happened during the pandemic. At least in my state. It isn’t that I don’t get the need for restaurant owners and employees to survive, I truly do. In fact, my brother owns a restaurant and I know how hard it has been for him, but I had already discontinued the practice of ordering take-out long before the pandemic. I had stopped ordering take-out, and I carried my own to-go containers with me in my car for any possible leftovers when I would eat out. I also carry a small cup in my car so I can get a drink at doctor’s offices and other locations without using a disposable paper or plastic cup.
Now, with the fear of contagion, I am not able to use many of those practices. That has resulted in a few things for me: 1) I continue to not eat take-out, 2) I only eat out if the restaurant is using real dishes and utensils and I can dine there, and 3) I have turned to other ways that I can minimize my own personal waste.
I had stopped buying baby greens in those big plastic bins already. Do you remember that just 5 years ago those bins were plastic bags that used far less plastic? About 5 years before that, you could take your own re-useable produce bag to the grocery store and fill it with baby greens from a large bin at the store. You couldn’t buy cut up watermelon in a plastic container. You just had to buy a watermelon, packaged and protected by its very own rind. Goddess forbid we eat smashed lettuce or have to cut our own watermelon!
I told you I was having a hard time coming up with words that aren’t screaming and yelling. Sorry! I’m stepping back down off my soap box now. Thank you for your patience!
Anyway, here is what I’m doing right now. I hope the list continues to grow:
~I make homemade yogurt from local raw milk that I receive in a glass jar that I have to return after use.
~I use bar shampoo and conditioner. It took a while, but I even found organic, environmentally friendly products that leave my hair happier than all those fancy products in plastic bottles. When I need extra oil, I use Macadamia Nut Oil (food grade, that comes in a metal container).
~I dissolve a locally made bar hand-soap in water so that it is available in a glass and metal pump bottle for my clients. This is to keep things cleaner and more sanitary than bar soap.
~I started making my own chap stick a couple of years ago because I couldn’t find a product that worked well for Southern Colorado level dryness, and this week I started to make my own lotion. Still experimenting with this one. It’s a bit more complicated. I’m learning all about oil in water emulsification. Fun!
~I buy loose heads of lettuce or bunches of spinach and take them home in my reusable produce bags, and whenever possible, I grow my own greens.
~I found a bulk herbal chai tea that I like and stopped buying the boxes of individually packaged tea bags. This is more of a waste than a plastic specific issue.
~I take my own glass or metal bottles of water with me on hikes and when I’m going to be in the car for a while.
~I store food in my fridge, freezer and for picnics in reusable containers: glass, metal or those reusable plastic containers that I’m still trying to take advantage of for non-heated items.
~I began using a reusable silicone menstrual cup years ago. I love it! So Tawa friendly and nothing goes into the landfill.
~I went back to using powder laundry detergent that I can buy in a cardboard box.
~I’m using a 100% bamboo toothbrush. I actually love this. It’s so soft and gentle on my gums.
~I’m still using up the plastic tube of toothpaste I have, but will replace it with “Bites” (natural toothpaste tablets).
~I’m not a big deodorant user, but I found a great one in a cardboard tube from Humby Organics. My guy, who is a fan of antiperspirants, even likes it. Big win!
I would love to hear what you and your family/ loved ones are doing to love up on Mother Earth and yourselves. I’m sure there are many things I haven’t thought of. I also hope you continue to be well (physically, emotionally and mentally) in this unusual moment in time that we are experiencing together.
I love you,
The One Size Fits All Myth
I’ve always had a bit of a hard time with the idea of career/ life coaching and mastermind groups. I find I’m highly suspicious of those who claim they have the formula, and that all you have to do is follow their carefully laid out plan. And when people ask me to teach them my particular healing modality, I’m deeply hesitant. Sharing ideas with people about how they might find healing feels comfortable, telling people “this is how you heal yourself and others”, feels incredibly dissonant to me.
It’s not that most of the teachers and coaches out there aren’t tremendously charismatic and as highly successful as they claim to be. And, completely well intentioned. It’s that I suspect the reason they are so charismatic and highly successful is because they came to their framework/ signature work themselves. They came to their perspective via their journey. The reason they are so alive and lit up about their thing is because it encompasses their truth. And when we come to our truth there can be tremendous energy behind it. And often, we want to share it with everyone. The problem is, it’s not everyone’s truth.
Coaching and teaching work really well when there is a specific skill we are trying to develop. Or when we want to mimic something that someone else has done. Or when there is a set way of doing that particular thing and we are in agreement with that set way, and truly see it as the way forward. It also works really well if we are good at following instructions. And if it feels healthy and authentic for us, in that moment, to do things in the way that someone else has set out for us. It works really well when we don’t mind being told what to do. There are many experiences we each have had with coaches and teachers that have left us ‘better than we were before.’ We have come out of those experiences more knowledgeable and more skilled.
Where it breaks down for me is when people think they can package their framework and sell it to others, as if finding your way in life, professionally and personally, is a one-size-fits-all sort of thing. It’s their truth, and it’s beautiful and something others want to emulate, but I’m not convinced it works without their entire journey attached to it. In other words, someone would have to re-create the entire journey (start to finish) to have similar results. And ultimately, I don’t think we can (or, are supposed to) recreate someone else’s journey in our own lives.
For me, it comes back to the ancient yoga teachings of dharma. Karmically, or on a soul level, it is of a more positive consequence to live my own dharma poorly than to live someone else’s dharma well. So, if I follow your plan and try to recreate your experience, will I find the same kind of ‘success’ you have? Or does it actually move me farther away from my own dharma, because I am forcing myself to fit into a pre-existing framework, instead of exploring what my own life/ dharmic journey and framework might look like?
So, can we really coach/teach people how to be successful and “align” with their life-purpose? When I was going through what might be called a dark night of the soul, which was precipitated by being booted off of my ‘chosen’ path, I was in a constant state of seeking. I was seeking a teacher, and seeking the answer. I gained some knowledge along the way, passed some helpful road signs and encountered some truly lovely people, but I don’t feel like I really found anything of true substance until I looked inward, to my heart and my soul.
I keep coming back to the idea that we can really only encourage people to engage with the journey. Encourage ourselves and others to continue to open doors and peek into different worlds of possibility, so that eventually we come to our own dharma. To enthusiastically encourage people, especially young people, to seek and explore, to fall and make mistakes, to keep looking under unturned stones, so that eventually they find their very own truth. And we will have actively participate in our own journey along the way. So that when we arrive at that place, we are lit up, on fire and charismatically living our life purpose, with a deep understanding that it is our very own journey that brought us here.
I love you all,
P.S. Having said all that, I am getting ready to offer a new class. As with all of my classes in the last couple of years, it will not be taught in a traditional way. You will be given opportunities to experience yourself, others, and the Universe in some new ways. From there, you get to decide how, or if, it fits into your truth. I’m offering it online and in-person, and I’m specifically offering a 12-15 year old class online. I don’t know who these 12-15 year old humans are, but I am being guided that I need to offer something just for them. Also, I have taught these classes online, and they don’t aggravate my nervous system like teaching yoga online did. I suspect it has something to do with how I teach energy healing classes. And maybe that it simply isn’t my dharma to teach yoga at this stage in my life.
The class will explore the energy fields, the matrix, if you will. The timing couldn’t be better, with the pandemic, and the amplified experience of the individual in connection with the collective, and the experience of how we manage the confusion it provokes.
Hello Dearest Ones!
I felt a dramatic shift in my body and mind from the very first yoga class I took. It is a practice that is near and dear to me. I have been studying and practicing yoga for almost two decades now, and it will forever be a part of my self-care practice. Oh boy, here comes that self-care word again. The concept can be a little triggering for some of us. And, as I shared with you last month, I also know how central self-care is to the healthy, happy and free life I want to live.
This month what is coming up for me, quite unprovoked, is an exploration into the things that block me from having a consistent and healthy self-care practice. Wow! I must tell you, this almost blew my mind. I have done so much self healing and so much assisted healing, and I am incredibly disciplined and have great will power, so it kind of floored me that I still have some pretty substantial blocks to really taking care of myself. You might find yourself standing on this same, unstable raft, surrounded by the sometimes raging, sometimes tranquil waters that are life.
To better understand where I’m going, it might be helpful to talk a little bit about how I approach energy healing. When I am communicating with a client’s ‘body’, I am communicating with their subconscious mental, emotional and physical material. I am communicating with their cellular memory and the deeper layers of their psyche. Rarely, am I working with the conscious mind. That only occurs (conscious engagement with said material), as things are coming through to be cleared, and there is a need for the individual to have conscious awareness of the content, for full healing to transpire. In simple terms, a large portion of what we each need to heal can simply be healed and cleared without us having to have awareness of it. Then there is the smaller percentage of things that ask for our conscious and active participation in the healing.
When people ask me whether I do my own healing, the answer is that I do some of my own healing, and that I really like to work with other healers, because they don’t have my blind spots. The reason I am so able to access other’s subconscious material, is that I don’t have their blind spots. I don’t even have my blind spots when I’m working with others. But I do have them when I am working on myself.
So, after almost 20 years, I recently bumped into one of my blind spots around practicing yoga. As you all may have noticed, we are in the middle of a pandemic :-), and in-studio yoga classes are not currently available where I practice. And, as you already know, online yoga doesn’t work so well for me. I know, it seems obvious. I’m a yoga teacher, so why don’t I just practice my own yoga? And that is where we hit my self-care block.
When people ask me if I practice yoga at home, or by myself in general, the answer is always “no”. And the reason is always that “I am a group yoga practitioner”. And that “I prefer to practice yoga with others.” And I’m sure there is truth in this. I will always love to practice yoga with others and get to enjoy the group energy that it builds. However, lately it occurred to me to question that belief. I started to question it because my body isn’t loving how it feels without regular yoga in my life. I love to walk, and I have been walking a ton since the start of the pandemic. My body is accustomed to complementing the walking with yoga. And let me tell ya, she ain’t so happy with me right now!
The other day during my meditation and pranayama practice, it occurred to me that I was really going to have to start an at home yoga practice. My body just can’t do without it. I had a lot of resistance to the idea. I said to myself: “It’s just not my thing.” This reaction made me question why it is that I can lead a class in which I practice with others, and allow others to follow while I do my own practice, but I won’t just do my own practice. I thought of this because I have been doing just that once a week with a couple of friends for the last month or so. And I love it. It doesn’t feel hard or unappealing or any of those things.
So then I asked myself, how is that different than a home practice? The answer that came to me was that I was doing it for others as well, and that feels good to me. You guessed it: I am being of service. So then I asked myself if I was willing to be of service in that way to myself. And sadly, the answer was no. Then I asked if I felt like I could be that generous to myself. And again, the answer was no. Ultimately, on a subconscious level (now conscious) I haven’t believed, probably for most of my life, that I deserved that much attention from myself.
Pretty bazaar, don’t you think? What makes it even more bazaar is that it’s really common. This sort of self-denial is happening every day for most of us. And it comes in all forms. For me, this time, it came as a belief that I don’t like practicing yoga by myself. Probably its most common form, is the belief that we don’t have time to take care of ourselves. How many times do we hear ourselves say, “I would love to do ______, I just don’t have the time.”
Here is the hopeful part. Simply by bringing that subconscious block to the surface, and by combining it with my conscious belief that I really do want and need to give myself a regular solo yoga practice, I was able to get up the next morning and treat myself to a lovely yoga practice. Admittedly, it didn’t feel super comfortable, but I did it and my body felt great afterward. I was able to repeat that act of self-love (self-care) this morning.
Being able to take an action step in the direction of a new belief and a new kind of self-care borders on the miraculous. That might feel like an exaggeration to some of you, but think of how often your attempts at minor behavioral and lifestyle changes are completely foiled, over and over again. That is the true beauty in the work I do. Being able to help others locate and clear those subconscious blocks that hinder us from living life on our own terms. Or at the very least, discovering what our terms are.
Now go discover your terms, and take care of yourself by making a small movement in a direction you actually want to move. It will give you tons of opportunities to stumble over your blocks and fall into your blind spots. Beautiful. Healing. Miraculous.
I love you all,
P.S. Notice how I kept asking questions. Once I would get an answer, I would ask that answer another question. The appropriate questions will usually come to us if we loosen our grip. This is how we can reach deeper layers of awareness. The first several answers are usually just defense mechanisms. We have to keep asking to get through our own defenses
Month Three: Frayed Edges
Hello, my dear tribe!
For some reason it feels appealing to address you all as my tribe. Maybe because of the general feelings of isolation and divisiveness that are surfacing in the collective as we come upon the completion of our third month of pandemic reality (unreality). Maybe because of the deep understanding that has come to me in the last three months of just how important it is to know and feel that we are not alone and that we have a healthy and intact support system. You all are part of my healthy and intact support system. By allowing me to share my thoughts and ideas with you, and you sometimes responding and sharing yourselves with me in that way, I feel seen. I feel valued. I feel like I am of service.
Feeling ‘of service’ is important to me. So much so, that when this all started, I felt inspired to offer some weekly online yoga classes (both independently and for a local studio). And you all responded positively to it, and in turn felt supported. In that small way I was a part of your support system. I know that it was out of my love for you all that I felt inclined to offer online yoga classes. I know this because it doesn’t come naturally to me to teach or practice yoga online.
I discovered (or maybe confirmed is a better word), after 6 weeks of teaching yoga online, that it is not a good fit for me. I found that it was irritating to my nervous system, my adrenals and my psyche. I was meditating and walking daily to maintain my balance, while offering a yoga practice to you (to hopefully help you to maintain your balance.) At week 7, I finally had to call it quits. I was no longer able to rise above my own stressors with online yoga teaching. It was humbling to have to acknowledge my limitations in this regard. And it was liberating to fully honor my own needs.
For the last decade or so, I have been learning about how to be of service without it taking such a toll on me. In other words, I’ve been learning what sorts of services I can offer to others that don’t feel like a burden to me. When I was a full time educator I learned that I was of great service to my students, and, that being a traditional classroom teacher was incredibly stressful for me. (This topic came up in an interview I did with VoyageDenver recently.) As a healer, I have learned that working with people individually, I am of great service to people, and, it never feels like a burden to me. No matter what I feel like before a session, I always feel better after I work with someone.
I continue to better understand who I am and how I can be of service. As of late, I’m specifically exploring my adaptability, and how that adaptability has evolved. In my youth, being adaptable meant I was good at making the best out of shitty situations. In my adulthood, it has been more about learning how to avoid shitty situations. Now, as I near a half a century of life, I am learning that adaptability is more about recognizing the areas in which I am more or less able to adapt. It is learning to understand and honor that there are some things that I can be tremendously flexible about, and there are other things that simply don’t fit for me, and will never feel right to me.
This has helped me to understand that being of service to others is important to me, and being of service to myself is critical. It’s still challenging for me. It doesn’t feel particularly natural for me to say, “I don’t have anything to give to others right now. I’m just managing to keep myself healthy by focusing on self-care.” It’s not that this need is new to me. Or even the action of focusing on caring for myself. What is new is the deeper understanding that it isn’t really optional, and it doesn’t come after everything else. It’s no longer what I do “if I have time.” It is now the number one priority. And that is okay, and it doesn’t mean that I’m no longer an adaptable person who can be of great service to others.
I’m curious what you all have discovered about your limitations and adaptability in month three of the pandemic. What are you coming to understand about yourself and how you respond to usual and unusual situations? What are you finding are some of your central needs? What do you miss the most about your life pre-pandemic? What are you glad to have seen go? I would truly love to hear from you about this. Reply to this email and let me know.
I would encourage everyone to try more self-care. Yes, even more. I used to think people who were good at self-care were selfish. I’m now starting to think that superb self-care might be the only way to truly be of service. Hmm!?
I love you all and hope that you are staying well,
P.S. Here’s how I’m caring for myself. I am walking in nature a lot. I’m talking to Mother Earth about my concerns. I am meditating and I am doing a lot of pranayama (breathing practices). I am gardening and eating fresh food out of my garden. I am watching light-hearted movies (I often go months without turning my TV on.) I am spending time with loved ones who fill me up (on the phone or in person), and I am avoiding loved ones that deplete me. And sometimes, I just stare at the ceiling.
Sitting in Limbo
Hello Dear Ones,
As humans, one of our least favorite places to be, is limbo. We seem to be innately uncomfortable with the unknown, the unmanageable, the unpredictable: that which we cannot move by physical force. Besides making apparent to us that being able to know, predict, move or manage things might be an illusion anyway, limbo implies being with self. Even more challengingly, being still and silent with oneself. Most would say that is a formula for disaster. Or, as social media would put it, at this time of shelter in place, a formula for making babies or dramatically increasing the divorce rate.
Since we are accustomed to interacting with ourselves, with all of life’s distractions swirling around us, it can surprise us that we are so uncomfortable in this place of silence and stillness. Most are used to evaluating (and likely judging) ourselves based on our actions, our achievements, our contributions. We value ourselves based on what we do. Often, we are able to identify redeeming and worthy qualities in ourselves, and often (even in the best of circumstances) we are brutally unkind to ourselves. It isn’t ideal, what happens when we are faced with ourselves, even when we are completely distracted by life. It can be downright startling when we eliminate all of the distractions.
The liminal space, that is limbo, takes all of life’s trappings away. It deposits us into an unknown realm, where we are naked (so to speak) and unable to hide aspects of ourselves, or look away from, our wholeness. Typically, when we do look, most of us will only see our shadows. We will have difficulty seeing the well-lighted parts of our wholeness. As humans are patterned to do, we will focus on the ‘negative.’ Focusing on our shadows keeps us stuck, limited, small, and ultimately, in a place of self-loathing (aka depression).
I feel oddly blessed that this is not my first encounter with limbo. That I have sat within this specific space before in my life. Several times, actually. The most dramatic experience of it, was what I would call my ‘dark night of the soul.’ Many would call it a major depressive episode, and I did exhibit all of those signs and symptoms, but I could somehow tell (at the time) that this was different. That I was being given an opportunity to really get to know myself. And that, even if I didn’t know it, I actually had the tools I needed to get through it safely.
What can we do when we find ourselves here: in limbo (which I’m extrapolating implies self-judgement)? How can we find the prana, the life-nectar present in limbo? Believe it or not, the solution is to walk in deeper. Allow yourself to look around and really see/ feel what is there inside of you. There are a couple of important ground rules for doing this. So that it is a healing process instead of a harmful one. First and foremost, you have to face your inner critic and definitively tell it that it is not allowed to be part of this process. (Follow this link for specifics on how to do that). Secondly, you have to discover, nurture and grow your self-compassion. Yes, you deserve love. We all do. Always and without question.
Here is an exercise for moving deeper: Draw your attention away from the judgement (shadow) you are currently tormenting yourself with, and turn it toward that which lies just beneath it. Your intention. Your wound. Your dream. Your desire to be free. Your desire to feel whole. Draw your attention away from your criticism and allow yourself to see you. The fragmented, confused, self-doubting, good intentioned and light-filled you that exists within, next to and beyond the shadows.
It may initially be difficult to see this part of ourselves. And it will definitely be difficult to meet this part of ourselves with compassion. The inner critic truly believes that when it berates us, it is helping us. Fortunately, it is wrong. I know, most of you don’t believe me. “This is the part of me that makes life happen. It’s what gets me up in the morning. It’s the me that got that promotion.” That is what you are telling yourselves right now. And it feels so true. But it’s not.
The inner critic is actually the part of use that makes us feel burdened and overwhelmed. It is the part of us that kills creativity and motivation. If you still don’t believe me, work through the above worksheet with some of your common inner criticisms. Believe it or not, we get up in the morning because we actually want to get up in the morning. We do the work that we do because there is a part of us that believes that work has value. I know this because I have meet the moment in life when my inner critic could no longer make anything happen for me. It was like beating a dead horse. Unfortunately, I was the dead horse I was beating. I was the one who could no longer get up. And I discovered, the more I beat myself, the more paralyzed I became. Beating myself up for my failings, could no longer get me up and moving.
At the time, I was slogging through the worst shame storm I had ever experienced. I had taken medical leave from teaching and eventually gone on short term disability. The problem was, I hadn’t broken my back and I wasn’t battling cancer. Those would have been acceptable things to have gone on disability for. According to my inner critic, “I was just having severe anxiety, panic attacks and migraines. I should surely be able to get my shit together and go back to work. If I wasn’t so flawed and weak, I would definitely be able to not let the anxiety take over. If I weren’t so lazy, I’m sure I would be able to get up off the couch and make dinner.” It wasn’t pretty. Or self-compassionate.
I did a terrific experiment during that time. Unintentionally. One morning I woke up at 10am (this was already a ridiculously late wake up time, in my opinion), and I couldn’t get out of bed. I simply couldn’t get myself to get out of bed. I berated myself mercilessly for how worthless and lazy I was, and I still couldn’t get out of bed. Even though I hated myself for it, I didn’t manage to get out of bed until well into the afternoon that day. Several days later, I woke up at approximately the same time, and again, I couldn’t get out of bed. Having learned a little from my previous experience, I decided to hit myself with some compassion this time. Don’t get me wrong, I had to gag and tie my inner critic first. But then, I was able to tell myself that maybe I needed a little more rest. After all, I was processing a lot and I had had a lot of anxiety and I knew how much that fatigued my adrenals. I feel back to sleep for a bit. Miraculously, when I awoke, about an hour late, I was able to get up and start my day. And I didn’t even have a shame hangover.
Coming to understand that forcing and belittling myself no longer worked as a way to motivate myself; I surrendered to self-love. Even though I didn’t feel worthy of it, it felt like the only viable option. I decided to meet myself with compassion and I learned how to quiet and discredit my inner critic. This particular experience taught me a lot. Of course, it’s only one example of many such experiments that I conducted during that time in limbo. Obviously, the shift didn’t happen overnight, it took a good while “Sitting in Limbo” (one of my all time favorite songs), to learn these things.
I hope this helps all of us to expedite the process, and come to a place of self-compassion, more quickly than I did before. It is so incredibly scary to really look at ourselves and get to know who we truly are; underneath all the doing. I can promise one thing: If we really do this, we will learn to be at peace with ourselves. We will even find that we like ourselves most of the time. And, we will come to accept ourselves more. Inner peace, liking are selves most of the time, and accepting ourselves are terrific tools to combat self-judgement (and depression). I believe we can avoid a mental health crisis (in this time of isolation), if we take the opportunity to meet our true selves (without judgement), in this limbo.
Of course, don’t discontinue your current (successful) practices for maintaining mental health. I continually remind myself to employ all of the self-care tools I know to be effective for me: Keep a regular sleep/ wake cycle, eat healthy food, move my body regularly, talk to my loved ones regularly, and give myself alone time (yes, really, even now).
I have come to believe that self-love and self-acceptance are powerful acts of rebellion and liberation. They bring with them, the miraculous gift of accessing our personal power. Let yourselves taste this gift. Dip your toes into your inner being and invite yourself in for a tour. The powers that be (definitely the patriarchy), do not want you to discover your own power. The inner critic is a valuable social construct for maintaining the status quo. For creating docile masses. They think your inner critic is doing a splendid job of keeping you small, and manageable. Now doesn’t that seem like something worthy of rebellion?
I love you,
Finding Yourself Through Fear
Hello Dearest Ones,
I write this with all of you in my heart, and a true hope and intention that we all tap into our higher selves as often as possible as we navigate this unusual and unprecedented time in our lives and our history. I also want to share a gift with you that might be useful to you and your loved ones in the coming weeks. Please enjoy this video as a tool for healing and prevention. I share it now so that you won’t miss out on it, if for some reason you don’t make it to the bottom of this love note.
What I want to share with you all is how I have been experiencing the energetics of the collective in the last couple of weeks. I am fairly practiced at not tapping into the collective too frequently, and I am also immensely sensitive to it when I do tap in. Beyond what I discuss here, I would encourage you all to practice disconnecting from the collective as often as possible. It will give your nervous system a much needed break.
I have been hit by two distinct waves of the collective energy in the last couple of weeks. What I feel and sense when I am hit with these waves, is a lot of fear. Of course, fear is the more ‘popular’ form of grief and sadness. That is to say, fear is our default/ go-to emotion when we are experiencing grief and sadness. What makes fear so effective at paralyzing us and causing panic in our hearts, is its ability to make everything personal. When things are personal, or feel personal to us, they tend to overwhelm us more easily.
Notice that while the collective is fearful of not having enough toilet paper, or being out of work for an extended period, your fears are taking on their very own flavor. That is because they are reflecting back to us the places in our heart (and our pelvic -the two places most of us carry fear) where we have some latent fear. When the collective fear hits our system, it spreads through our being until it lands on something that holds that same resonance (frequency); and it activates it. Hence why, in addition to all of the collective fears, some of us are feeling we may never have the love we long to feel, never have the child we hope for, never have the ability to put our kids through college, etc.
What is important here, is to have tools to move through and dismantle the fear. And, to help us uncover what is actually there, inside of us, that is activated and manifesting as fear. The first thing I do, when faced with fear, is investigate where it is coming from. In this case, for most of us, it is simply coming from the collective store of beliefs. When I am confronted with a strong collective belief, I always ask myself if I actually believe or agree with it. I already know that I am impacted by it, by association. I am part of the collective, and I know how difficult it is to move in a different direction than the collective. But do I actually believe it?
Let us first give ourselves the time and space (maybe free of outside input) to question whether or not we actually believe the fears we are feeling. Secondly, when I am experiencing fear, I know that it is trying to show me something. It is asking me to get curious about myself and my internal workings. I will often ask the fear directly: what are you trying to show me? If we are still and patient, it does answer. Honestly, it will answer even if we aren’t. The answer just might be a little more uncomfortable without the stillness and patience. As a helpful guide, I can tell you that the answers always have something to do with lack. It always comes out as some variant of: I don’t have enough ____________. I’m not _____________ enough. No one will ever ______________ me.
Once I have the knowledge that comes from that exploration, I look at the fear and I thank it for the information. And then I tell it to leave. I tell it I am unwilling to let it run the show and that it no longer has a purpose within me. Amazingly enough, it actually listens and leaves. Of course, we might have to have that conversation frequently initially, until we personally believe it enough to have more lasting results.
Now, how do we deal with our own beliefs? The ones we revealed by becoming curious about the fear. Oddly enough, I often intentionally visit the worst case scenario. For some reason, for me, it helps to go to the extreme and come to the understanding that I can even survive that. Don’t employ this method if the fear has already completely taken you under.
My most powerful go-to, is to invite into my heart my spirit guides, my gods and goddesses, and my human, animal and plant allies. I make it a daily practice to ask them to be present with me and help me to see/ feel/ know the truth about my situation. I pray and meditate with them and ask them to show me, allow me to feel, the truth (the higher perspective) of my belief. What they know, and what I’m not always able to tap into, is that the Universe is absolutely abundant. They know that I will always have enough. They know that I will always be enough. They know there is enough.
I love you all. And yes, there is enough love in me to love every single one of you.
Be well, and call on me if I am one of your human allies and you need me to be more present with you at this time.
With an infinite amount of love,
It is interesting to me that we are just wrapping up January of 2020, and most people who are in the practice of making New Year’s resolutions, are already finding it difficult to stick with their intentions for change. Why do we have such a hard time honoring the hopes we have for ourselves in the new year? Or in general? I suspect it has something to do with the energy of closure and completion that have been ever present since we stepped into 2020.
Many of us think of the new calendar year as a great time to make change. This year we may find ourselves thinking that the new decade, in particular, is a great time to make change. Those thoughts are positive and hopefully help us to move our energy forward. However, they seem to be in sharp contrast to the energy that can actually be felt in the Universe and the collective at the moment. It seems life really wants us to focus on sussing out the final details of certain things. It’s asking us to place our attention on the things that still need a little more fine tuning from us; before we move on to the new.
Have you ever noticed that humans are a little closure/ completion averse? Can you see your own tendency to struggle with the final stages of a project? Do you often feel inclined to just skip those final steps and jump right into a new thing? (We are especial good at this in relationships.) It is certainly understandable. New things have all that novelty and exciting newness energy attached to them. Closure and completion have the energy of all the stuff we have already been trudging through for a while. All the stuff we feel REALLY READY TO BE DONE WITH.
I sense this phenomenon is related to what I wrote in October about “closing doors to open doors.” With the energy moving in a different direction that is. In the case of closing doors to open doors, we have to be willing to walk away from something that feels comfortably familiar, in order to create space for new ‘things’ to come into our lives. Whereas, in the case of allowing ourselves (notice I use allow instead of force) to stick with and see something through to its actual closure and completion, requires us to stay with something uncomfortably familiar. The discomfort is present because there are still lessons for us to learn, or unfinished aspects of the project (or relationship) that we need to process and fully understand before we can truly leave them in the past. If there were no unfinished business, there would be no discomfort. And there wouldn’t be so much difficulty in moving forward either.
I believe that part of what happens, when we have less success than we desire with our intentions for ourselves, is that we are trying to build new habits and behaviors when we are still in the closure and completion stage of the habits and behaviors we are trying to move away from. As I mentioned above, the Universal and collective energy right now is all about closure and completion. It is tremendously difficult to jump into the energy of our new hopes for ourselves and our lives when we are surrounded by the collective stream of closure and completion energy. Not to mention when we are individually carrying closure and completion energy more than initiate and innovate energy.
So maybe, patiently put your intentions and resolutions to the side long enough to see what it is that is unfinished. That which lies just below your desire to created this new behavior or change in your life. That is where you will discover the unfinished business that is asking for completion and closure at this time. It is also likely where you will discover any energetic disruptions that are contributing to your general lack of success in moving toward the intentions you have for yourself and your life.
Can you find a way to enjoy the closures and completions that are asking for your attention? Imagine how much more enjoyable zipping up a project, or stage in our life, would feel if we focused on the benefits of that process. Even more so if we can approach the completion of it with pride and enthusiasm for making sure we completed it as well as we wanted to. Or to experience the absolute joy of feeling true closure about something. Like we really aren’t taking any of the emotional baggage from it into the future with us. To be free to only take with us, from that situation, relationship or project, the life affirming lessons learned and/or the well completed project. If we can do this, I think what we will find, is that we will have far greater success once we finally place our focus on our new intentions and desires.
Closing Doors to Open Doors
Lately I have been reminded of how manifestation tends to happen in my life. It may not be exactly this way for you, but I would guess there are similar threads in your experience. A couple of weeks ago, when I was teaching yoga, one of the students approached me after class and said that they had been working at their job for 30 years and were ready to retire, however they had always felt they would retire into something else, and the something else still hadn’t shown up in their life. I had mentioned in passing in class that I had been a Spanish teacher for 20 years, and they were curious about how the transition out of the educational system had happened for me.
Their question reminded me that most of the time we have to close a door that no longer serves us before a new door can open in it’s place. Especially if the new door will indeed be replacing something. Closing familiar doors, even when they have outlasted their value in our lives, can be very hard. And scary. Most of us would really like three beautiful new doors to open expansively in front of us before we very gingerly close the outdated door behind us. How are you at closing doors in the absence of certainty another door with open in its place? Are you skilled in this area? Or like me, do you have to be thrown out the door kicking and screaming as the Universe lovingly slams it in your face? I’m sure the Universe smiles upon me tenderly for being so persistent, although she might call it stubborn.
It is with this renewed awareness of the need to shut the doors in my life that are no longer feeding me, that I step into fall. And as is always the case in my life, every time I learn (or relearn) a lesson, I am immediately given the opportunity to put it into practice. No, no comfortable accumulation of theoretical knowledge allowed for me this time through. I am always required to put it into practice. I’m happy to report that I didn’t injure any limbs in the door closing this time. I didn’t even kick and scream (or at least not too much). I simply acknowledged that it was time for that door to close, and I sat with my internal discomfort as I gently pushed it shut.
No, the discomfort hasn’t completely left me yet. That won’t likely happen until I can see at least a glimmer of the new door that will eventually open. The in-between (limbo) is truly an important and necessary part of calling in the new door and everything that comes with it. It is precisely the discomfort of this limbo that helps us to energetically and vibrationally refine the plans for what we want come to us when the next door opens. It is with the creation if this internal space, often external too, that we are more fully able to co-create and collaborate with the Universe and the manifestation rich juices of the void.
Let your focus linger on the excitement of that potential. We are far better equipped to keep fear at bay if we remain focused on what could be. If we allow ourselves to imagine and dream beyond what we perceive as possible that feel good energy will carry us to the next door. Don’t worry about dreaming bigger that what you ultimately manifest. You will feel satisfied with the door that opens for you. It may not be the doorway to heaven, or the million dollar door, but it will be your door and it will feel good to you as such.
I have, with a bit of longing in my heart, closed the door to teaching regular weekly yoga classes and quarterly yoga teacher trainings. It was time. I absolutely love it, and there are other things that are calling to me more urgently now. Like teaching classes about energy healing. I don’t have anything on the calendar yet, but you can find up to date class information on my website, and I expect to be offering an online and in-person class this winter.
I have also been ignoring a door that the Universe opened for me almost a year ago. A door that I allowed to open and invited into my life with a mix of enthusiasm and trepidation. Now the Universe is more firmly demanding I walk through it, all the way in; and invite you in as well. If you have wisdom, opinions, sentiments, and contentious ideas you have been wanting to share, and you like to write or create two dimensional artwork, maybe this is a doorway that is ready to open for you as well.
May the door be with you,
lots of love,
P.S. For some reason I have been on a bit of a Star Wars kick lately. I find myself regularly referring to “the force”. Hence, “may the door be with you.” Let all the magic of the force come into your life through the next door that opens to you. Or shuts. As I said, you usually have to close doors to open doors.
Tawa Ranes has a very curious mind and has always been interested in the nature of consciousness and the workings of the Universe. Since healing has been a big part of her own personal journey, much of her curiosity focuses on understanding how and why healing occurs or fails to take place.