Monday, June 20, 2016

Move Into Joy

"We can never consent to creep when we feel the impulse to soar."
-Helen Keller

There is nothing like a move to challenge a relationship; actually all relationships, beginning with the one with ourselves. I am talking about any kind of a move, not just a physical one, but certainly a physical change of residence is a huge move. I just made a physical change of residence a couple of months ago, and even if you move a short distance, it is still a big change. For me, it has been interesting to watch what it stirs up in  myself. As I stayed focused on what it stirs in me, I also found I wasn’t reactive, much, to what it stirred up in my husband. As I witnessed me throughout the packing, moving, unpacking, and then trying to find things and wondering where things went and also where things go, as well as navigating through no computer and basement renovation, whew! That was quite an experience. At once I was grateful for the ability to do what I was doing and being able to move into a beautiful new place with lots of stuff, and also holding the parts of me that felt scattered, forgetful, tired, sore, lost, overwhelmed, and finally owning how chaos around me is not something I do well. Holding all of that was difficult at times, but also kind of fun in that I was conscious of my doing that and also realizing how grateful I was for the whole experience. This may sound kind of weird, but this change has helped me move more into joyfulness. 

Have you ever found a move or change helped you move into joy? There is a letting go, a sense of faith and connection, a greater sense of self and not sweating the small stuff. It does take some risk to make a change, and it is this very risk which helps to create the change. The move or change doesn’t have to be moving homes, but a movement towards something new or some wholeness or some new idea or a new job or following a new interest or letting go of feeling and thinking you need to take care of others, and so on. As we step into that new place through the journey to it, there is a sense of accomplishment, humility, and also, in my way of thinking and feeling; joy.

I was at a dinner party recently with a bunch of girlfriends whom I see every 6 months or so. It is always fun when we get together. Sometimes we are more vulnerable and revealing with each other than others, and there is always at least one of us going through major life changes or having a difficult time, as well at least one of us who is celebrating something. We go around and share with each other what is going on with us, and we all listen and comment and celebrate and commiserate and support. One friend was describing how she really just wanted to teach but found she ended up having a full business where others depend on her for work. She was feeling slightly overwhelmed and like she needed to keep doing what she is doing; yet not what she really wanted to do. As a result, she is in burnout. She goes home at the end of the day and doesn’t want to go out or do anything else. We were talking about how it is when we do something we really enjoy. My friend is at a place in her life where her move is more towards supporting old ideas and thoughts, so there is not a place for new joy there. But, when she spoke about something she is learning that she absolutely loves and is following up on, she just blossomed. We can move into old antiquated thoughts and beliefs and we can move out into something that brings us life and joy. We can move into new in an instant; with the fear and anxiety and risks, we feel when we take this other, new road. We are such creatures who can be ruled by survival, and we are also creatures who can be ruled by growth. Usually, we do a combination of both. When we move into our bigger selves, growth happens, and with growth, is often joy.

Change Your Story/Change Your Life:

Get yourself comfortable and close your eyes. Make sure you are in a place where you won`t be interrupted. Breathe deeply 2 or 3 times, and settle into your own internal rhythm. Feel the feeling of love and appreciation throughout yourself. Just allow the feeling to come, if possible, even if you may not be feeling such feelings about yourself right now. If you can`t, imagine someone who you do feel love and appreciation for or with. Feel the feeling and notice where you feel it and how it feels. Let that feeling blossom inside of you. Now think of something you really want to do or have wanted to do for a long time and haven`t done. As you think of this, pay attention to how the feeling inside of you changes. How do you begin to feel? If you can tell, where do you feel it in your body? Now imagine yourself beginning that very thing you have been thinking of, but haven`t. How does that feel; scary, exciting, overwhelming, joyful, conflicted feelings, and so on? Imagine now you are actively engaged in that activity; class, move, training, trip, relationship, etc. How do you begin to feel inside? Breathe deeply. Now, go back to thinking about it but not doing it. What does it feel like to want to do something and all the reasons you aren't?

Lastly, go back to the feeling of appreciation and love, and let's add joy to that, and let those feelings infuse you. Breathe deeply 2 or 3 times and slowly come back to your surroundings and when you are ready to open your eyes. Write down what you learned from this experience.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Putting The Pieces Together

"When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy."

As we learn and grow and are open to going to deep places inside in order for us to put pieces of our puzzle together, we can feel like we are a mess or in chaos. If we don`t understand what is going on we can certainly feel lost in the process as well as feel many feelings like anxiety, fear, anger and so on. We go to our default way of feeling in the world when we are reactive or triggered. If we are used to feeling angry in response to things then we are angry. If we are used to feeling anxious, then we are anxious. As we trudge along, this can feel like it takes forever to put pieces together, and then suddenly, one day, it seems as if they just suddenly make sense.

It can take a long time and many years for us to be able to understand something that was said to us. There is a story one of my teachers told me which still resonates with me. She had begun facilitating family systems work in the form of Family Constellations many years ago. At that time, one of her friends had taken the workshop. Years later, the two of them were taking a walk and just talking and my teacher`s friend asked her if she remembered that workshop many years ago; thirteen in fact. My teacher said, no she didn’t remember. Her friend went on to tell her that what had transpired that day thirteen years ago finally makes sense to her. 

It doesn’t matter how much time goes by, it matters that we are able to put pieces together for our growth, and the movements of our soul and our understanding have their own time frame entirely. I have a patient who, during a recent session, had a powerful aha moment. We had been talking about a dynamic regarding health and being able to take care of ourselves and when we unconsciously might take on a condition or illness so that we can be cared for in ways we were not able to be cared for when we were young. When we are little, we need our parents in such fundamental and profound ways to just survive. For some of us, when our needs to be cared for can not be met, it is such a strong need that as we grow up, there is an unconscious energy at work which creates an illness or condition where we have to be cared for. It occurs so that a young part of us can finally heal. Yet, as an adult, this type of handicap is not consciously wanted or desired, and can greatly impair our lives; on the outside looking in. This patient has had a few occasions where a physical condition made him in some ways unable to care for himself. As an adult, it played havoc with his relationship with his partner. We were discussing this in terms of how it has affected him in the relationship with his wife. All of a sudden, this made such sense to him. It impacted him in a way of deep understanding. Would he have understood this many years ago during his first bout with his condition? Most probably not; but this day all the pieces fell into place for him.

At these moments all the hard work we have been doing suddenly make sense. Is it really a sudden movement? No, that sudden feeling is a result of lots of internal churning in aligning the pieces of the puzzle in such a way that a new image or picture and perspective takes shape. It is this process which helps us to live healthy, whole and vital lives where we can be in life who we really are.

Shift Your Story, Shift Your Life:

Take a moment and close your eyes.  Think of something you would like some insight into from when you were growing up. What would you like to know more about? Take your time. Then imagine yourself right smack dab in the middle of a family dynamic that you found yourself in when you were growing up. Breathe into that space while reminding you that you are just imagining. It can be any dynamic that comes to you, or any situation or event or family occasion; it doesn’t matter. Don`t force it and just let it come. It might not even make sense why this image is coming up for you. Just be with it and live it for a minute or two, but this time as an outsider looking in. You are looking into a situation that you might have found yourself in while growing up, and one in which you have asked for some insight or clarity into. Just watch and let it unfold. You are revisiting in order to be open to learning something that impacts you in your life today. After a couple of minutes come back into the present and just breathe 2 or 3 deep breaths and open your eyes. Get out a tablet or paper and write down a feeling or thought or piece of understanding or anything that you saw or felt or experienced while revisiting. See if this little piece of information helps you to put a piece of your puzzle in a different place. You can do this exercise as often as you find helpful. If nothing came to you, that is ok too. It could be very subtle, or it could just be that you can see how difficult things might have been for you.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Filling Our Wholes

"A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking because its trust is not on the branch but on its own wings."

Did you ever have the experience where so much was going on and you were either wanting something to happen and it just wasn't happening, or you were contemplating something and sharing it with folks and they had differing ideas, or you were in conversation with people you respect and you found yourself losing your own perspective in ideas and things? I think this type of thing happens to all of us at some point in time. At times like these, we lose touch with our authentic selves. How do we lose touch with us; what happens in our lives in which we felt we had to give something of ourselves up, or that we just couldn't trust us? I think it begins with just that; giving some part of us up. Our task becomes filling our holes with ourselves. Or, as I put it in the title, filling our wholes; becoming whole. 

Many times in our lives we unconsciously fill our holes through other's thoughts and influences, not realizing that we are allowing them to have precedence over our own. Sometimes what happens is that in different times and places in our lives, it didn't feel safe to have our own opinions. We might have felt that if we even took some inner time to discover our own ideas and opinions and had the audacity to express them, that not only would we be discounted, but that we might lose someone important to our survival. It felt important to agree with our caretakers, whether we actually did or not. If we do that often enough, we can begin to believe and take on as our own their beliefs. To become whole, we then need to go back in time, so to speak, to the places where we gave up something of us, and to consciously reclaim that part of yourself, or that idea and belief, and even the confidence in us. We then need to learn not to doubt ourselves in most matters; especially in matters of the heart and soul. 

It needs to be okay to be wrong about something and to know that even if we are wrong or if we are not agreed with or even believed, that we will be ok and we will do more than survive, that we will prosper. I have many patients who find their selves in the place where they often doubt their selves and don't know what the truth is about things. They lose their own inner knowing. We then have to help them to believe in their gut feelings again. Sometimes the actual details of events get lost or not remembered, but to trust the gut feeling and energy of what they do remember; even when others tell us otherwise. 

I have a patient who was lied to so much growing up, that she doesn't know what the truth is. Important people in her life either continue to lie, or begin to believe their own stories that the truth of what happened is not able to be retrieved. The task here is to help her to begin to believe what she is feeling in her heart and gut to be true; even without knowing the details of the events. So she doubts herself and finds that she no longer is able to know her own memories; she gave them up. Our task is to help her to feel her own feelings and to own them as hers and have them take priority over anyone else's. She is in fact in the process of doing that and is learning how to become whole again. 

Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life 
Where in your life have you let go or given up something of yourself in order to be approved of, accepted, and to feel loved? Take a  few minutes and let us do an exercise. 

Close your eyes and breathe deeply two or three times. Deep, full breaths. Go back in time to a time and place where you can remember surrendering something of yourself in discussion with someone, or in a relationship with someone where you wanted to be approved of, or you were afraid you would lose something if you said what you felt or remembered or believed. What was happening at that time? What was happening and how did that make you feel? Were you afraid, or anxious, or feeling doubt, what was it that you were experiencing? Now, how could you do things differently knowing what you know now? What might you think or say to that other person or in that situation? Imagine your self-expressing your true thoughts and feelings at that time. Feel how that feels. Take it in. Now take two or three deep breaths and come back to the present and slowly open your eyes. Take two more minutes to write down what you learned and how that experience was for you.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Holding The Pieces Together

Poem of Life

I woke up this morning to a clear day
The morning sunlight piercing through my early morning dreams
Looking out through my window of time I witness the opening of the budding trees, as they gracefully and trustingly open to the gods of nature
Each tree and bloom and unfolding is a  winking of their eyes at me and the world
Their silent social network greets the day and smiles at each other
Full of mischief and beauty they collude to their daily opening and gifts
Each day a further revealing of their inner workings and beauty
Until one day soon, they are fully unfurled
Joyfully contributing their essence to the web of life itself
And I just an active witness and contributor 

It’s May, the beautiful month of May. Everything that grows is going into bloom, and walking outside is a warming, colorful experience. The pieces of winter and early Spring , with fallen and broken branches, muddy and clumpy yards, stark and more barren landscapes while beautiful if their own right open up to bright and full vistas and the disjointed feeling of nature comes together in a beautiful expanse and explosion of color. The same nature of seasons happens inside of us. As we work through major issues and go into and come out of our inner dark winters, the pieces come together for us  in a new way and open us to new vistas and often colorful expanses within us.

I talk about the importance of seeing bigger and greater perspectives than that of us alone as we peer out at our families, communities, groups, countries, and so on. It is often too easy for us to stay within our own inner images and stories rather than to branch out and do the work involved in seeing us as an important, but a small plant in the greater whole, with each moving piece having their own story and perspective. We all together make up a whole. Again, the same holds true for our inner pieces. It is too easy for us to stay within each small piece of us that holds a memory or trauma or story, rather than to see that all parts of us have a story that needs listening to and learning from. It is difficult to do for many reasons as our brains are wired in such a way as to remember the hurtful and traumatic pieces as a way of survival. Re-learning and rewiring will take work, perseverance and a true commitment to us. Our whole selves matter.

I was working with a young woman recently who often feels as though there are at least three of her. At the flip of a switch often one of the three parts of her speaks to her. One of the parts of her she would rather not look at and feel as holding and feeling the pain is very difficult. This particular part carries with it many negative feelings and thoughts. So I had her do an exercise which I invite you to do with me.

In one hand hold one part of you; maybe a part that feels one way about a person or a situation or an event or a memory. In the other hand hold another part of you that feels a different way than the first. You see, both sets of thoughts and feelings hold some truth that needs to be seen and heard and felt. If you have many hands, so to speak, many parts of different and yet valuable information, you could put out some footsteps or shoes that symbolically hold another part and perspective that you carry. Now feel how each feels. Is one different than another? If you also put out footsteps, then go and stand on them to see what is going on with each set. What do you notice? Again, how are they different, the same, and what happens with each in your reactions to them. Do you want to let one go? Do you feel one as heavier than the other or one lighter than the other? Is there a feeling in one that is had to hold or find you don't want to hold? Hold them all so to speak, while acknowledging that they all have a voice that is part of you and that holds some truth in them. If you feel you can, begin to turn one or another in such a way that they can also begin to see each other and maybe even hear each other. How is that? Check in with all the voices and parts. If some of you feel you can even bring them closer to each other, then begin to do so, but very slowly so you can be aware if it is too much for one, or not. In this exercise, we are just noticing what is happening. Now go back to their original positions and just take a moment to register the parts of you. Take them in. They are all inside of you and each part is important. Breathe them in. When you are ready, you can bring your hands down, and if you have footsteps, you can put them up.

Take a few minutes and write down your experience. Each part of us is important and these pieces make up our whole, and as we can be as whole as possible, our world explodes in beauty and color. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Feeling We Don't Belong

"Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”
-Marilyn Monroe

Do you ever feel as if you don't belong, or feel so different from others or from your family? I think that this is a feeling that many of us share. Recently I have worked with many people who feel that way. When that is our early experience in life, that feeling can be a difficult one to shake. Yes, we are all unique and have different backgrounds, feelings, thoughts, life experiences and also gifts in this world. That is also true. In addition, in a very large perspective, we are all alike in that we all have thoughts, feelings, gifts, our bodies and brains and construction works similarly, and we all live together on this earth. When we have young experiences in life with our caretakers where bonding was interrupted, or when we have an early loss in our families, or when our parents were so wounded and flawed, we often grow up feeling so different from them and so apart and like we don't belong. Then as we grow up we attract people into our lives and have relationships with people and children where we don't feel we connect well, or where we aren't able to communicate well our thoughts and feelings, or where we feel very different from them. The cycle continues.

Recently I had the privilege of working with people who feel that way. One woman was having great difficulty in her relationship with her husband where she wasn’t feeling heard and seen, and also difficulty in her relationship with her child where she even experienced the feeling where it would be easier if he/she weren’t there. When she was young, her mother went back to school to get a degree. Her mother was a teenage bride and was still figuring herself out and needed help in mothering her two children. She had my client and her brother spend large periods of time with their grandparents, her parents as she finished school. Even though my client and her mom do well now and love and enjoy each other, when she was little, she missed her mother dearly even though she was well taken care of by her grandmother. She remembers as a 12-year-old speaking with her grandmother about feeling like she must be adopted as she felt so different from her parents. 

This feeling of difference continues today. She feels different from her husband who she also feels doesn’t hear her or see her, and also feels great guilt as a parent and a failure. I can't help wondering how much those feelings of failure and guilt also come from how her mother might have felt and also how she herself, as a young child, must have felt. Why else would her mother not want to be with her if she wasn’t so bad and a failure? This feeling of fault, guilt and failure is a frequent feeling that children feel when something  happens to their parents or if someone isn't available. We all feel if we were good enough they would be there, or they wouldn’t leave….at that age, it is all about us as it has to be in order for us to survive. So now her child struggles with addictions and with subsequent failure in school, and she feels guilty as a bad mom and also guilty for her feelings of wishing her child wasn’t here. 

Often behind the feeling of guilt hides a deeper feeling. The guilt disguises feelings of great sadness or even great anger, and even both. Not only did she have these feelings regarding her parents, she also had and has them regarding her child. Feeling different also helps her cope with her feeling so hurt by her mother; a feeling she doesn’t want to feel, and one she doesn't consciously feel now. As a child herself, if she was different from her mother, then it couldn't be her fault. Healing now comes from recognizing and owning her feelings and bridging the separation from her mom that she felt growing up. She does that by understanding how it was for her then, realizing it wasn't her fault and allowing herself to have all her feelings and then can navigate back and forth through time from young to present so she can also be present for her husband and her child.

This navigating through time begins with awareness and being able to feel our feelings;/past and present. As we begin to time travel in this way we also can begin our journey towards wholeness,  health, and vitality.

Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life

Let's take a journey together. Find a comfortable seat and ground yourself with your feet on the ground. Do your best to make sure you will be uninterrupted. Begin by breathing; one deep breath at a time. You are breathing in life and breathing out old stuff you no longer need. Breathe slowly 2 or 3 more times breathing in life and breathing out old stuff. Close your eyes and find yourself on a mountain path, surrounded by pine trees on both sides of you. The path is slightly rocky and not very steep. You stop and breathe in the smell of fresh pine and look up past the treetops to see the sun's rays peeking in at you. You follow this path until you come to a clearing over a large rock where you can sit down comfortably inhaling the pure, clean air. As you sit on your rock, you ask for help in seeing any old places inside where you might feel different, or that in some way you don't belong. This might not fit now in the present, but if you have assistance and look backward for a few minutes, let some scenes unfold for you where you can see and feel any of these old feelings. Watch the scene unfold before you as you feel held by the rock you are sitting on and the sun shining and the assistance you are receiving. As you watch this moment on the past you have the perspective with you of the present. Just as an angel in A Christmas Carol shows Scrooge his Christmas past and present and future, imagine your angel showing you how this old event impacts you in the present; maybe in ways, you have not seen before. Take a moment and thank those assisting you and welcome in this new perspective. Maybe a word or a feeling or a color or a smell stays with you from this new insight. Open your eyes and stand and stretch and enjoy again the sights and smells around you. Start back on the mountain path, retracing your steps until you reach the beginning of the path. Begin to feel yourself sitting in your chair and take two or three deep breaths. Slowly open your eyes, and if you are so moved, take a few minutes and write down what came to you during this visualization.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Joy To The World Poem

"Confront the dark part of yourself, and work to banish them with
illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your
demons will cause your angels to sing."
-August Wilson

Taking in the frigid blue of the sky
The brightness of the sun cutting through my inner gloom
Living within the dark middle of the tunnel as also knowing that if I keep moving, the light will re-appear to my eyes
There is a deep knowing that all is alright
There is a deep knowing that I am feeling growing pains as I am living through the unknown
Letting go of a need to know and feeling the very old, buried memories of a little child with no control, living with a very sad, depressed mother and a blind father
Feeling the uncertainty and even terror that I try to moderate with my mind
If I feel the terror there is a part of me that wants to give up, certain I will lose
There is a bigger part of me, growing by the day, that is certain I will win
The win is winning myself and knowing the light is always there
Even in the middle of the tunnel, the light is there
I feel it within and I feel my terror and I love myself as no one else can 
I feel the subtle joy in my belly joining with the memories of my anxieties in the lining of gut….always there and ready to pounce in an instant
The joy combines with the fears and something new emerges
A deep glow of understanding and empathy for me
As I revel in it as a dog revels in the good smells of the earth I feel a joy that transmits to others
Joy to the world

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Power of Words

"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire
universe, deserve your love and affection.”
-Guatama Buddha

I was speaking with some old friends recently and we got on the topic of words, and the power of words. Words are very powerful, and our choice of words means so much more than we often are aware of. Often times our word choice comes out unconsciously. Yet, when we really listen to them, which we often don't, what we said made much more sense than we consciously meant. And, as we look at the words we choose, they say so much about us now, about our past, and about what we are creating in the world. 

One of the things we were talking about was what words spoke to us  this past New Year. The words that are important to me for this new year are: create, joy, prosperity, peace, and choice. As these words were taking shape for me I put them into a sentence: I choose to and am creating a life of joy, peace, and prosperity. In fact, what I would like the world to have is a life of peace, joy, and prosperity for everyone. If I can create one for myself I can be one small part of creating this for and with the world.  

Continuing in this vein, I realized that what I am helping to create for my patients is for them to be able to live a life of health, wholeness and vitality. If we have our health, and we feel good and vital, and we reclaim our lost selves so that we are whole, we then have the ability to create the lives we wish to create for ourselves. Even just saying this makes me happy and joyful. So, as I work with my patients as a chiropractor, I help them to hear and understand what their bodies are saying to them. I am helping to translate their bodies voice so they can understand them and understand their selves more fully. As a facilitator and coach, I help them to know and honor who they are as people separate from and yet connected to their families and communities so they can live their own individual, unique lives. As they reclaim their lives and selves they can have the freedom to create the life of their own dreams.  

This word smithing is fun for me. Yet so much of the time we unconsciously choose words to speak out loud and to speak to us unconsciously which undermine what we consciously want for ourselves. As I work with myself and others I so often hear our underlying fears in our words. For example, I am worthless, I am not worth anything, I don't count, I am not enough, I am bad, I am stupid, I can't succeed, and so on. Can you imagine how many times we say these words to ourselves over the years, and the impact of these words on our psyche and our lives? Those words live within us from the old wounds and injuries in our lives, especially when we were very young. It is our young selves who often think it is our fault that our parents split, or that dad left, or that if we weren't so worthless, mom would pay attention to us, etc. We believe these words when we are little. As we grow up, we consciously want to feel worthy and good enough and don't realize how much these early feelings impact our sense of worth in the present. 

Here is an exercise which I find fun, we can all do together. Take out a sheet of paper, fold it in half and without conscious thought, write out 10 words that come to you immediately, without changing  or censoring them. Now, once you have written out those ten words, on the other half of the paper write out ten words that speak to what you want for yourself in your life now. Turn the paper over, and on the back side, write out ten words that speak to you of how you felt when you were a young child. How many words were repeated on the first half of side 1 and the back side of the paper? How many words were repeated on the second half of the first side and the back side of the paper? 

What do you notice about your thoughts? What can you do to help yourself to create a life that you want? As we create the lives that we want, we can live whole, healthy and vital lives. 


A homework assignment you can do for yourself on your own time is to notice what words you are using as you speak with yourself, and what words you find yourself using as you go about your day in dealing with co-workers, friends, acquaintances, folks at the grocery store, and so on. What words catch your attention as you listen to others? This is an exercise in just noticing, which is the first step in becoming conscious of your thoughts and your words.