Swirling from Survival to Thrival

I feel like I’m in recovery from my life and that it is hurling me into another world.  Swirling and hurling me to parts unknown.  I’m beginning a new journey that is calling on me to dig deep.  I’m talking about the transition from living amidst the midwestern culture and its lifestyles and the work practice of psychotherapy in my office for many years to the new online therapy.  I started my first job after graduate school at the Center for Parents and Children in Moorhead, MN in 1985. I’ve moved through several sites in the area but always been in the vicinity.   Since moving to Cottonwood, AZ a month ago I’ve been immersed in changes.  Although I moved around ND as a child and went away to school for a short time in my 20’s, this move feels epic and new.  A new climate, new environment, no cable TV and no one I know at the grocery stores.  After being in Fargo all my career life, life itself moved to provide a space to change and move.  Translation, my adult kids moved away, and I no longer “had” to stay as I’d done through my parent life which as I’ve been calculating is quite a long time.

Recovery – The images of treatments, addictions, suffering, medical providers in white coats linger.  Two definitions of recovery are: the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost and the other is:  a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.

These definitions have elements of truth in my case – somewhere along the line I lost sight of my own big picture.  This often happens somewhere in childhood when life’s hurts and stressors pull in.  I lost the feeling of my “beautifulness” and took on the challenges of life as if my life depended on it which, of course it did in the survival mode that I existed.  I hear this term “being in survival” a lot in today’s healing circles and the workshops this year that I organized were all about identifying your own survival beliefs and learning to live from the power of your heart.  Recovering from our past conditioning is one of the key aspects of moving out of survival and into a state of thriving or “thrival”.

There are various levels in both surviving and thriving.  There is no wrong or right way to judge here.  We may need many years in the denial levels to prepare us for the leap into light and presence of joy.  We may be one of those old souls who just moves to what their life purpose was meant to be without some of the mess. We come into this world with this beautiful energy that seems to captivate those around us with love and acceptance.  Then, flash forward a couple of decades from birth and we may find ourselves looking for love in all the wrong places when life goes awry.  Then we wonder what happened. This survival begets self-medicating in whatever way, shape or form is the one you choose.   And that’s when recovery can manifest.  You don’t always have to “hit rock bottom”  Any negative emotion felt for any length of time can make you feel out of control.  Pain of any kind can be a wake up signal.  I’m always talking about the need for tools to deal with our life circumstances.  Knowledge is power and finding the right support is a key to success.

 

I’ve had a break in the action so to speak.  Decreasing my workload to the online mode created many changes.  No office to maintain, no set routine, and less time on the job were a few.  Downsizing was a mental ordeal.  My brain resisted disconnecting with “stuff” that had become unnecessary over the years.  I got a sense of the timelessness of time as I sorted through box after box.  The golden nugget here was the support I got from my husband.  His brain is geared to organize so the ordeal factor was different for him.  Not all couples can balance one another in this dept so I kept the gratitude comments flowing as he slogged through most of it, made multiple trips to thrift stores and packed up the rest.  My heart knew what was ahead.  My head was trying to keep up while my physical body moved in and out of resistance and stiffness…. preparing to move in to flow and flexibility along with strength and vitality, right?  Not so fast my dear.  Recovery is a process.

“It all boils down to this. Self-love. We’ve got to learn how to love ourselves. “This was spoken by a wise old soul I met in my new neighborhood, a man who looked like sailor who’d seen the world and tasted it all.   I’ve been hearing some of the tales of peoples lives here in Cottonwood and this one had light all over it.  So, how is this recovery going?  It’s starting.

The first step is awareness.  The minute I step into fear and survival I get a minute to get back out.  Then what?  Then I look for another way to release and change the old way of thinking – the practice of self compassion.  I have connected with one of the Sedona healers for support in this emotional repatterning.  This is a new phrase to transform negativity and old memories by bringing these old concepts out into the open and consiously releasing them.   Here in the Sedona area there are many seekers and dream visionaries as well as many retirees and those who grew up here.  When I observe others through the lens of self-compassion vs judgement and labeling it’s a much richer experience.  I realize how easy, especially coming from the Midwest it is to be hard on oneself or project it out to others in irritation, dismissive attitudes or denial.  The 12-step recovery program that I’ve often referred to in my work over the years is taking shape for me now.  Step one is about surrender.  I am admitting what I need to admit and finding someone to support and be present with me during the process.  There is a book that was suggested by a healer called the 12 Stages of Healing by Don Epstein.  I’m finding we can go through them, “arrive” and must start them all over again with another level of healing and clearing.  It’s OK!  The rewards are dreams and visions being realized.

What I’m more aware of at this stage of my life and career is the importance of congruence and lining my life up in harmony with who I am and the skills and experience that I bring to the table.  I am opening myself up to love and learning this ancient and divine language that somehow got mired up in the human conundrums of doing the right thing or wrong thing depending on the times.  I’m taking a Qi Gong class at the community college and all I can say is “Wow”.  I am learning about the infinite spirals that swirl within all connected in some ways to our emotions.  The body is the container we’ve got.  This container of mine is learning through all the sensations, pain patterns, and symptoms it’s given. This break in the action is powerful.  There is no right or wrong time to learn, take breaks or grow.  Start with the intention to be your best self in the service of the Divine.  I met the pastor at the United Methodist Church in Cottonwood and asked him how he had arrived in this area from the east coast.  He chuckled and said it was a long story but that the short of it was it was a “God thing”.

This blog is about the process.  Writing is about the process of a story unfolding or an idea evolving.  My belief is we all have this “God thing” within although for many of us it takes some serious uncovering and searching.  One of the most powerful tools to help keep us on the best path is one to build our sense of self love – the Quick Coherence technique from Heartmath Institute.  I write about this often for a good reason.  It works and can easily be forgotten in life’s whirlwinds.

This is an updated version from the Heart-Based Living workshop in June presented by Deborah Rozman, Heartmath President.

2 Steps:

  1. Focus your attention around the heart.  Imagine your breath is flowing in and out of your heart or chest area finding a little slower and deeper rhythm than usual.  This is a breath of ease.  Suggestion is 5 seconds inhale and 5 seconds exhale.
  2. Make a sincere effort to experience a regenerative feeling such as appreciation or care for someone or something in your life. Suggestion – Try to re-experience the feeling you have for someone you love, a pet, a special place, an accomplishment etc. or focus on calm or ease.

I appreciate any feedback on those who work with this.  For more information seek out the Heartmath research institute and learn more about the wisdom and guidance of YOU!  Being in the Sedona, AZ area the You is more than you think! Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filling Up My Empty Cup

I built a “blanket fort” on the 2nd floor balcony of our childhood home in Jamestown, ND. These forts began to take form the summer after our move from Williston, ND. At the age of 10, I turned that mini-retreat place (away from my 4 brothers) into my candy eating haven – mostly chocolate bars, Dots, Sweet tarts and the like. I imagine my self-huddling in this haven and feeling the sweet numbness of the treats. We lived just across the street from a Red Owl grocery store, so the source was close by. I still wonder where I got the money. My child self-felt the need to fill up those empty spots that grew bigger after our move. I’m watching her now with a new feeling of compassion.
Hypno-therapy is a well-established tool to help uncover and treat problems of many sorts. It’s used in many disciplines such as dentistry, psychology, medicine and spirituality. It works by creating windows into our sub-conscious mind, to learn more about the sources of our problems and find ways to re-write the old scripts with more desired and updated ideas. I was trained in hypnosis during my graduate school years and was motivated to find my own style of opening those windows in the most relaxing way possible. Interestingly, I never experienced hypnosis formally myself beyond the training practices. Recently, I was referred by another professional to try it to help further treat some of the stomach issues that had surfaced. Being a psychotherapist myself, I knew the basic steps and was curious how this person was show up in her style.
She was prepared by information she received prior to the appt. She had it diagramed on a whiteboard what topics seemed to surface given my interests/experiences in life as well as some common themes in life that might relate. Hmmm. This was a 3- hour appt and I wondered what kind of a trance state I would find. What is a trance state? Trance states vary from person to person. In fact, we all experience altered trance like states each day. It’s the idea of time perception – that feeling that you get when you watch a great movie and how fast it seemed to go or at the other end of the spectrum, a bad movie and watching the clock counting down for its end. When we get into trance states, our sense of time may be altered. When we sleep, get involved in some interest or book or any number of things that can capture our attention that can be another example of altered states. The intensity varies as well – from light, medium to deep levels of relaxation. All trance states can be windows to the subconscious and the wisdom of this level of our mind. 
The reason I made the appointment was to address some belly issues that had become a problem and was suggested to try this by a chiropractor. I’ve been open to try many healing techniques over the years to find relief for one thing or another and experience new strategies that may help others that I work with. The induction or relaxation time was like what I’d known, and I tried my best to “Relax” and let my mind sink down into that zone of calm but what I experienced was something different. My muscles gripped for dear life in a spot on my upper back making finding that quiet zone almost impossible. I waited for relief, but it didn’t come. The therapist started in that area and we connected with a memory from my teenage years. We stayed there for quite awhile despite my frustrations and wanting to get up and move around. What I found remarkable was the importance of staying with this pain and seeing it through so to speak. I learned that it was connected to the gripping tension/fear I felt while in a car with let’s just say unsafe drivers. I also began to realize the reasons for how I ended up in that spot and the emotions that led me there. The young girl in her blanket fort felt some of the emptiness – feeling alone, unaccepted and sad. This was the opening to self-compassion and the therapist was good at weaving a new way to understand that part of my history. I can feel this new acceptance beginning to grow each time I have a trigger. The interesting thing about doing this kind of treatment is the outcome. How it is translated to life is unique to each person. For me, I think it has helped although I won’t be able to analyze this until some time passes…. that the important thing now is to just live in the best manner possible. Self-compassion is another concept that is growing in importance in life today.  My colleague and I  recently presented  the Living from the Power of Your Heart workshop and can more clearly see the importance in identifying and living your own truth with self- love and acceptance.
Most of us grew up without these concepts and tools readily available – our parents were too busy surviving. I feel blessed to be able to cultivate what my gifts and talents are and navigate with more support. I now have gratitude towards my parents and the families that they grew up in. This way of thinking holds more energy than the “if only they would have…. or why did or didn’t they….? The resulting emotions of this line of thinking is negative. Now, new learnings are on the radar and within our reach – to awaken and choose which path we will take to thrive in this life despite our external circumstances. How do we get started? Just say to your self I want to start living a better life. It reminds me of the first steps of the 12-step recovery program. I admit my life is undesirable (in some way) and I’m willing to reach out for support. Spiritually connecting to God as you see God is the next act of faith.
Question to God…why did I have to feel empty? Why is life so hard sometimes?
Answer from God…. To be who you are now. Humans are good at suffering. You don’t have to.
I plan to go back to experience another hypno-therapy session to see where my body will take me and what my subconscious mind will allow up so to speak. When you are working with the subconscious, the best thing to do is sit back and observe. The more we learn to tune into our inner worlds the more in control we will feel. I don’t have the answers to the belly puzzle or the exact nature of my symptoms, but I feel the benefit in the decreased reactivity of my body. Re-wiring our minds after any type of trauma can be tricky but if you set the intention and go after it you will find your own path to wellness and joy.

Compassion is the essential oil that will help lift our frequencies as we evolve and change. It is a blend of Patchouli, Marjoram, sweet, Grapefruit, Ylang Ylang, Clary Sage, Sandalwood and Lavender fine.    http://www.goDesana.com/newpath

Ode to the blanket fort

I built you for me, for privacy.

I played and felt the wind wisp around my walls of protection.

Safe inside this soft cocoon I yearned for satiety,

Finding temporary comfort until a new time.

Filling my cup has been a lifetime journey that I can only now begin to put a perspective on.  Where are you in your journey?  Now is always a good place to begin.

Practice Announcement:

As of April 30th I will no longer be seeing clients in my current office location.  We are planning to move to AZ  later this Spring and will be preparing for that.  I will continue to stay in practice as I will be licensed in AZ, working via computer and phone to provide the same services.  Most insurance companies are in line with this delivery of therapy so keep this in mind for any future connections.  I am putting in practice many of the life skills I have learned/experienced over the years.  What a stress potential!  Yet, with all the uncertainities my intention is to manage with positive base and keep the fears in check.  I’ve got my tool chest close by.   I’ll be updating my blogs/website as we go along. 

 

Spider Sense – Weaving through the Wheel of Life

Spider entered my path this weekend; not in the usual “see on the wall” kind of way.  Instead, it was the result of a bad fall on the sidewalk of life – only this time it was of the concrete type.  I fell directly on both knees and face which I quickly realized was one of those “bad falls”.

A woman pulled into the driveway near where I was sitting/laying and got out of her car. She was older, dressed in one of those brightly colored tunic tops; her reddish short hair possibly with a scarf in it as I recall.  Actually, I remember wondering if she lived in the house and was just returning home. Stopping for me was not in my radar.   She walked over and said, “This happened to me two years ago and no one stopped for a long time.  I remember just laying there and no one came.”

I thanked her angel presence and assured her that I could make the short walk home.  The last few days have been spent figuring out how to walk up steps and get on and off chairs as my knees were quite painful.  Just on the verge of  Memorial Day weekend, I’d planned many activities/tasks that “really needed to get done” and looked forward to time with my family.

Things were now different and I sat there in frustration and tension created from the negative emotions.   One of the healing tools that I frequently use with clients is  what I call “my animal cards”.  These cards were created within a mystical and historical context and have been “right on” for many in challenging situations.  Now, I was the one who needed guidance.  Spider was chosen – the keynote: Creativity and the Weaving of Fate.

I did some research about Spider medicine and found deep secrets embedded.  That’s the magic in these cards – it’s all about what is awakened or related to by the individual.    According to Ted Andrews in Animal Speaks, in India, it was associated with Maya, the weaver of illusion.  It has connections to the Fates in Greek mythology and the Norns in Scandinavian lore – women who would weave, measure and cut the threads of life.  To the Native Americans, spider is grandmother, the link to the past and the future.

The body of the spider has 2 sections which gives the appearance of an eight when on it’s side.  This is the symbol of infinity.  It is the wheel of life, flowing from one circle to the next.  It isn’t always easy navigating those circles or balance between past and future, male and female, physical and spiritual.

Spider is the symbol of infinite possibilities of creation.  Do I want to caught up into the web and become dinner, succumbing to the illusion of just one perspective or be open to other dimensions to the situation?  Why did this happen to me now?  Now what am I going to do?  Of course, I did that for awhile and noticed the impact of that negative thinking pattern.

This is an all too familiar road for most of us humans – probably since the first stories of spider appeared.  This web of fate also represents a wheel of life, the tendency to polarize (good or bad, all or nothing approach) With this line of thinking we forget that we can change things at any time rather than being consumed by our fears and limitations.

Spider symbolizes creativity.  Creativity is the antidote to stress is the phrase I often repeat to others.   Suddenly the idea to CREATE  takes on a new perspective for me.  Funny how that happens when we are busy making other plans.  Andrews states that spider, because of its characteristics is associated with three expressions of magic: the energy of creation, creative power, reflected in its ability to spin a silken web,and assertiveness of that creative force: keeping the creative energies of creation alive and strong.  The third expression involves the spiders spiral energies.

“Are you moving towards a central goal or are you scattered and going in different directions?”  This may involve looking at ourselves with reflection and asking ourselves some questions.  Are you over focused on others or too self absorbed in your own matters?  Do you notice the emotion of resentment in your life?  Balance and creativity are key concepts to learn about spider totems.  Totems are another term for spirit animal to help us in our life journeys.  We have close connections to nature in all aspects of our lives, what we eat, wear, love and nurture.  Respecting what animals symbolize is powerful, positive and fun!  When things aren’t going as we want, seek out ways to connect with your animal totem.  In my case, I am stepping up my creativity by spending time thinking about my creative abilities and asking the question “Are there new ways to be creative at this moment?”  Thinking positively can be very creative when it is not your norm.

Earlier this week, I was drawn to review a book by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, The Wheel of Life.   She is known for her groundbreaking work on death and dying and teaching others about the stages of grief and loss.  Her work with terminally ill  adults and children helped “humanize” medical settings in how they approached the dying process.

In this book she writes about her own dying process, the suffering she experienced over a long period of time and how she applied her own principles to herself.  She felt  a purpose for what she was experiencing despite the angst.  She summarizes her life truths very succinctly:  “The sole purpose of life is to grow – the ultimate lesson is learning how to love and be loved unconditionally. ”  All the hardships that come to your life, all the tribulations, and nightmares, all the things you see as punishments from God are in reality like gifts – they are an opportunity to grow – which is the sole purpose of life.” Taking steps to love self and others…basically the base of therapy and recovery from stress and trauma.

I remember being on the same elevator as Elisabeth during a conference she was speaking at in Winnipeg in the early 1980’s.  She was a very small woman with a German accent whom I knew little about; but this moment was one of those unforgettable memories of life to appreciate now.  Sometimes the rug is pulled out from under you; whether the size is big or small, these rug moments make you pay attention.

When we pay attention, life speaks.   spider image 2