My Mother and Me-The Deep Dive

I heard the words cancer and surgery last summer when my mother was 92 years old.   She had finally found the answer to the cause of her “symptoms” that she had been noticing for some months.  I was taken by surprise as these symptoms were layered by minimization and her resolve to heal on her own.  She often quoted my grandfather who lived 96 years and rarely, if ever went to the doctor.  Finally, the bleeding became more serious and she agreed to more investigation.  Uterine cancer and a surgical hysterectomy were the outcome shortly after the diagnosis.

We dropped my mother off at the local hospital.  My father and husband walked her in.  With COVID, that was as far as anyone got.  I waited in the car at the entrance watching her gingerly make the short walk inside; then leaving the area with a staff person to the main hospital.  There would be no contact until she was discharged.  I tried to focus on the present moment in the car, swallow the emotions and hope for the best which fortunately turned out well.  She is close to 93 now and has another slice of life to live.

Swallowing emotions has been an automatic through much of my life.  It turned out my mother also was anxious and afraid of not surviving the procedure.  I assumed she might be given the circumstances, but these emotions went unexpressed.  Finding the energy to broach these subjects felt too difficult. The emotions of denial and minimization can be powerful survival defenses which, of course at one time in our early lives we needed. They can also create blind spots and blinders for seeing life fully.  “I don’t see what I don’t see, hear or feel.”  She expressed to me later that this experience was a wakeup call for her…that she now had the desire to make some changes in her life.  She spontaneously came up to me during a recent visit and said, “I love you.” And I want you to know that.  I don’t know if I ever really said it.”  My heart leaped with joy, but I responded with only a calm cautiousness.  “Where is this really coming from?” What I had always longed for was that deep, loving connection with my mother yet reality and the world we come from did not make it easy.  I held onto some negative emotions from my past and they have lingered throughout my life.

These negative charges from the emotions we carry can have many consequences.  Over the years as a therapist, many people have expressed desire to get rid of these negative feelings so they can be free to do what they really want to do.  Emotions have an uncanny way to run the show so to speak.  Finding pathways towards emotional freedom is a journey with many rewards.  Since energy cannot be “gotten rid of” there is only the path of transforming these negative charges.  Some have spent years in therapies trying to find ways to do just that while others lack the awareness that their show has been drastically altered by life’s stress reactions.

“The Angels will come down from heaven in their chariots and carry me away.  That will be it.”  As a child, I had the images from the Bible doing just that.  I think it worked for Moses.   My mother rarely thought of her own aging and death and this was not a topic of family conversations.  It fell in the categories of sex and finances.  Politically, she had crossed that river and was wonderfully open about her thoughts and beliefs.   The decision to run for mayor of a small ND town in the early 70’s began her investigation into why things weren’t congruent to what she valued.  She had many discoveries to make here.  Researching the intricacies of the mother/daughter relationships did not show up and we went into repeat of her own experiences growing up in the 40’s.

In recent years, the toll of her life stage was impacting all aspects of her life.   I longed to discuss these events and start a meaningful dialogue with her.  I wanted more understanding and clarity on how she wanted to live at this stage and what she needed.  Talking around a subject and creating a vague story about something can be confusing and frustrating.  It is also another common defense that we as humans can use.  I imagined angels in the chariot yet knew that, she was needing to make some practical decisions about her life.   I wanted to help but it was not easy.  Practicing awareness and taking healthy action steps is easier said than done.  I have respect for all these pearls of wisdom now more than ever.

Taking the deep dive for me with my mother is rather daunting especially in a format such as this.  However, I believe in it.  I believe in the power of sharing a personal story and the ripples created from its creation.  I have done the balance sheet so to speak about the gifts and talents she shared as well as the limitation she had to meet my emotional needs. I survived to this beautiful age so one thing is certain – she did the job we were all trained to do in this life. Survive and pass it on.  Evolving to the next level requires that.  I now begin mother thoughts with the gratefulness of where I sit today.

I remember the feeling of confusion and not having much of a say in my life…not that I knew that I could.  There is the memory of me clinging to my favorite babysitter that we had  for a couple of years and the deep sadness I felt when she “went away”.  I may have lost that trust in my inner voice early on.   Being heard.  What does that mean? Each child responds uniquely.  It is a felt sense…just like the feeling of being loved and being able to give love.  Many years passed and I had the opportunity to visit Linda, the childhood babysitter.  She showed me the tiny dancers in a case that I had enjoyed looking at as a child.  The emotions were overwhelming.  I was surprised, put up my old defenses and I pushed them down.  A short time after I left, my emotions broke through these defenses and I wept for a long time.  This was the connection I had tucked away.  The growth part here is that I allowed it to be expressed many years past the original pain.

It is not easy to feel negativity towards a parent.  And it was especially difficult for me.  This tails back to my mother’s relationship with her mom…. same dynamic, different time.  Finding emotional freedom was in my fantasies and dreams.How can our relationships with our loved ones be all they can be now that we have so many more opportunities?   The rewards for feeling these deep connections with others are immeasurable as they enrich our health, our emotions and our outlook on life.  That has been a question I have been pondering most of my life.  Many of us in today’s culture are reluctant to wake up to this great potential called Loving and Being Loved.  Now, we find the internet and social media full of opportunities to find and express this love of self and others.  There are just as many sites to promote exploitation and immediate gratification.  Choices and more.

Navigating the internet is somewhat of a challenge to my mother.  She has learned how to use email and Facebook with the help of my brother who lives nearby.  These resources are not always realistic for the 90’s.  I commonly will “send a link” to others but the mindset here is more of the familiar, the telephone and the visit.  Seeing how our generational mindsets are formed reminds me of mine and how essential it is for me to refresh often and keep learning.  Retiring to the rocking chair is becoming more of a relic phrase.  How can my relationship with my mother be all it can be in the time we have?  How will I decide to think and behave within this relationship?  Questions are essential to create the relationship you desire.  Will I stay with my default mode of calm/irritable detachment or stay awake to the potential that still exists.  Make it simple.  Finding ways to set a simple love intention…because that is what it is – a step for evolving our love relationships.  Default to our past conditioning is a sure bet unless we choose a new and better path.  To do this you need to consult your heart.  How best to do this?  Again, keep it simple.   Set the intention for the best outcome for your relationship and keep this in your heart while you keep awake to what shows up for you while going about your daily life.

Prayer and meditation are on the upswing in the world. COVID has been a wake-up call for the soul.  Mental and spiritual health is being placed on the front burners where in my opinion needs to be with everyone.  Culture has other survival plans.  I have done extensive study with meditation and moving meditations in the last 9 months.  My life has taken a turn for the highest good!

My mother’s faith has always been an inspiration and value given her husband’s role as a minister.  Throughout the barriers and legalities of organized religion she saw the real power of Love and the core of spirituality.  Still, I do not think the chariots are planning their glorious trip to her house to whisk her away.  I want to be conscious and helpful in these times.  How will this play out?  I keep my eyes focused on those guiding posts and will experiment not really having healthy templates for this phase of life.

Meanwhile, I will focus on deepening my own self-care and meditation practices.  Swallowing emotions is evolving into awareness and expression to myself and to others when needed.  Creating joy in these times and putting my Midwest work ethic to work for a higher purpose.  We are all given new opportunities to see with new perspectives.  Put your potential on the front burner.


Church Face – The Reveal




It has come to my attention that I may act one way while feeling another.  “The church face” was how it was phrased to me.  I felt the internal cringe as the words were uttered.  I’ve learned that this is the way my body says, “Do something.” Now, on the surface being “fine” or “good” sounded normal and right in line with how I grew up.  No sharing of dirty laundry needed…ever…at least not your own.  Conversly, this suppression can dampen the positive emotions as well – those of love, gratitude and joy.  No wonder so many are uncertain how they feel.  This laundry often gets funneled into some neurosis or addiction – symptoms of dis-ease.  Cleaning up  one’s own  laundry is essential for our mental health. .

Recent news about the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell for the sexual abuse of young women reveals layers of deception and grooming.  I can’t help but feel the sting of victimhood from my own life and the pain of the abuse cycle seen repeated endlessly year after year to others.   We live in a culture that makes it easy to minimize, justify and look the other way and often we don’t even realize we’re doing it.  Grooming can happen in many walks of life.  Values are skewed, emotions reacted upon and instant gratification is promoted…while the inside voice of the heart is often silenced.  Often, the consequences show up as suffering or pain depending on the each individual’s path.  Mine involved physical and emotional pain, self esteem and relationship stress.

What is that inside voice of the heart?  When does a person get to that tipping point where they are able to discern for themselves what that voice is about? The ego can be quite elusive and good at avoiding deep emotions.   I wondered about the drama that must have played out in this woman’s life and how adept she must have been in living out these parts meanwhile ignoring others. It’s like we’re all living in our own parts party drama.   I could have easily fallen for the lines Ghislaine Maxwell used on those girls and what were the lines used on her growing up?  How did those experiences translate into bad choices and hardening of the heart?  The answer to these questions as it usually is for me – look within myself and ask myself the same questions.  What were the lines I was given?

Malcomb Gladwell in the book Talking to Strangers refers to that tipping point where there is a perceptual shift from one way of thinking to another.   In the case of the me-too movement, there was a moment of time, several key cases of abuse and the tide shifted.  I was moved at that time to write my own story of abuse as an adolescent and speak up to myself mostly.  My family was surprised at how things like this can happen in a family and community without really being noticed.

It was something about that young woman, Emily Doe as she was named,  lying by a dumpster in CA, her perpetrator, a student from Stanford  was basically caught at the scene by two passer bys.  He was convicted of assault with the intent to commit rape.  He served 3 months in prison.  This light sentence  reverberated throughout the country as the sentence was so minimal considering the crime.  Chanel Miller had someone read a 12 page statement as to the impact of this act.  This was in 2016.  Since then she revealed her name and wrote a book called Know My Name.  In it she refers to her anger at the system and the unseen impact on the victim“The slivers we show, the mountains we hide.”

While I’ve learned that my body gives signals to “do something” I was unaware that it really “did something” to react to the assault I experienced.  The body constricts to protect – commonly known as the fight, flight or freeze response.  If the the emotion isn’t fully processed and the signal for safety given, our bodies can hold on energetically.  This holding on isn’t something we may be conscious of; in fact, most of the time we’re not, but the chemicals of stress are kept active and often result in symptoms due the vulnerability that is created by the stress.  For me, trauma associated into muscle tension, lack of flexibility and anxiety symptoms.  Many symptoms and conditions are stress/trauma related.  The first step is always awareness and knowledge of how this struggle in the body works. Identifying the lines we believed about ourself  is also important in healing and living with vitality.  I  often suggest working with skilled body healers that are tuned in to such energy patterns to help heal and find that safe place once again.  Talk therapy is a great place to uncover  traumas and reclaim your power.

Ghislaine Maxwell has been described as “evil monster, a narcissist and cruel. She comes from a family of wealth, deception, complex legal problems and entitlement.  Wealth and power can corrupt people and it’s a fact that most people don’t grow up in similar circumstances.  Consequently, there is speculation after speculation.  Eventually, her story will emerge and point out the craziness of living with the belief that something external  will make us happy.  Whether it be money, power, sex, status or possessions, history has traveled this path over and over.  What makes these times unique?  Technology and information has transformed how the world is operating.

The pandemic, Black lives matter, the climate crisis are combining to “force” a shift from an external to a more internal source of power.  Most people have been traumatized just by living.  Now, we are seeing the chance to go within, be kind, and live from the heart and live with a new type of abundance….less things and more love.  Love continues to be the most powerful energy of the universe.  Let’s beam into our own healing and find a new path into our own abundance and power.all the arrows are pointing in that direction.  Looking within is not as optional as it used to be.  Finding new ways to think are beginning  to be the norm.  It’s a crucial time to face yourself in a different way.   In past blogs, I referred to the importance of mirror work where you have the opporunity to take a mask off and feel the feeling of who you are at that moment.  I believe each one of us carries a  precious soul blueprint that waits to be revealed…or not.  The choice is ours.  Effective strategies in healing are learning mind calming practices and online supports.  I joined several practice groups that I wouln’t have prior to the crisis.  Leaders and teachers are stepping up to offer many free opportunities.  A meditation group and Spring Forest Qigong are ones that I gratefully take advantage of each morning. 

The reveal for me is clear –  I don’t need to hang on to the old “church face.”  My intention is to act on those activities that create healing, freedom, beauty and love.  Life is a work in progress at any age.  What do you want to create?  




Systemic Racism -Waking up

James ended his life by suicide in 2010 at the age of 49.  He came to this country from Zimbabwe when he was a young man and attended colleges in ND/MN.  My family’s church was very active in sponsoring this family and helping them with education.  He arrived with only a suitcase and the dream of making a good life.  I met him when I was in college and for some reason felt an emotional connection with him.  He was kind, observant and reserved, rarely sharing information about his inner life and history.  James presented as upbeat, ambitious and eager to succeed in America.  With my young perspective, I felt curious about how he could just leave his country, culture, family and friends and what it would feel like.  I couldn’t imagine it myself, being the “follow the rules” type of personality.  This went against my perception of myself as a bit of a rebel and coincided with the protests of the Viet Nam war, wearing bell bottom blue jeans to school and partying which created its own furor in the small ND community where I lived.    I had these different sides of me that showed up depending on context.  This integration that is a stage in the late teen/young adult years took it’s time with me.  Understanding the world in the 70’s wasn’t easy.  Understanding the world now is even less so yet with my “wizened” perspectives I have an opportunity to face the realities of today and walk with more presence and empowerment.

I loved James.  He was a great friend. Defining our relationship was difficult and confusing in those early days.  He was Black and I was Caucasian. When we would walk down the street together in Fargo, we’d sometimes get insults hurled out a car window about his race and being with a “white woman.”  I was shocked and deeply affected which I’m sure was minimized as a fluke.  Whenever we would do something together, the energy of what might happen was felt yet never expressed.  I considered a more romantic relationship with him and felt the uncertainties, pressures and future issues that were never discussed with him or anyone.  Freedom of expression was viewed through a narrow field, yet I worked in the area of social work, communication and emotions. Incongruence…. I simply didn’t have my voice in this arena and didn’t know any better.  On the surface I said the right things, but underneath, my emotions and behaviors were driven by prejudice.  Being myself was an illusion.

The Black Lives Matter protests have awakened a new awareness within me that has fired up a new hope within me that carries a light for humanity.  Given my lack of experience in living in diverse communities, I had downplayed the impact of the racism in America and was under the illusion that it was getting better the way it was.  Little did I know, I’d been impacted deeply in ways I had little awareness of…. a type of cultural brainwashing that I was naive to all my life.  Outwardly,  I perceived myself as  “modern” and “progressive.” I believed in freedom and equality for all while huge incongruencies and blind spots were everywhere.  I see now how white privilege can color and influence our behaviors in very subtle ways from daily functioning to life choices to spiritual practices.

James focused on “living the good life,” making a good living and being perceived by others as successful.  He was generous and wanted to help others around him.  He was active in the Methodist Church.  Many relied on him for help both in his home country and the family he created here.  He had one marriage to a white woman and the other to a black American.  Neither turned out well.  My perception was the pressure that never ceased to be there for him.  I believed him when he said all would work out, that whatever pressures he felt would be dealt with.  He just needed to rest awhile.  I always wondered why he wanted to stay in this country after he graduated from college.  Instead of communicating to me his thoughts and feelings about things he would ask me how I was, and this was an easy distraction.  In my grief after his death I was hard on myself for not being a better friend, following my inner ding that something was wrong.  It took a long time to work that through.  Now, I see more clearly how so many factors were a part of his decision to take his own life that Sunday morning before church.  Being male, black, from another country and full of pride to do well.  Depression was not something to be open about and I had missed it.  I had no language for what was really happening both with myself and for him.

I see with new clarity the necessity of systemic change. As a therapist, I work closely with people as they peel back the layers of stress and pain and begin to heal from those things  that no longer serve them. Old hurts, traumas, and conflicts that aren’t resolved are stored in the body as energetic frequencies. Now, research knows this and yet our stressful lives continue status quo.  I believe each one of us has the right to be seen, heard and respected.  Each one of our names are important.  With the murder of George Floyd all of us are witnessing the impact of racism in a new way; one that impacts many levels.  It all matters.  Virginia Satir, author and notable social worker/peacemaker said many years ago that we all deserve to be seen and understood and conflicts negotiated with humanity.  When I work with couples, this is my guiding light.  What I didn’t completely understand is how this light can be so dimmed and its potential brilliance unseen.  I am committing to myself to work in my own way to support changes that will help bring this light of change.  For me, the awareness is the first step.  Finding ways to empower my own light in being seen, heard and respected is another important step.  The rest will show up.

James made his mark in this world and did the best he could under his circumstances. I was angry at him for a long time.  One day, while driving to work, just a few blocks from my home, I had one of those “experiences” when out of the blue I heard his voice speak to me. It was brief and I wanted to hold onto whatever it was and “just talk” but what happened was unexpected. It was a felt sense of inner peace that his life was as it should be, lessons were learned, and that I was valued and loved.  That was that.  It was a great relief and comfort to me.  Little did I know that he would inspire me to my own wake up call at this period of history.  These are historic times when you combine the pandemic, the me-too movement and political unrest.  We need to be strong and awake.

I encourage you to look in the mirror the next time you see one and stop for a moment.  Judgement and negative criticsm to self or others is its own type of violence.  You can do something with that inner critic.  Say the magic words inspired by Virginia Satir and Louise Hay – Use your name and say, I love you, I really love you and take a moment to see and respect the treasure that is called by your name. Then get to work and be part of the solution in whatever way you are called. Allow those blinds spots to show themselves and evolve to your heart’s potential and create your new pathways and define your own perceptions.



Sparky-The Wonder Dog-A Story of Fear and Transformation

These “unprecedented” times have shaken the leaves from the tree of my status quo and cracked open parts of myself that were needing attention.  During the drastic changes in activity and schedule as well as the collective uncertainty of the world and our country, I think that counts for a justifiable core shaking.  While still working from home, I’ve engaged myself in personal self-growth opportunities and practices to find new ways to show up to myself and others better.  Living from the power of your heart in practice.  Since we needed to postpone the workshop of the same name, I decided to engage its wisdoms.  I was in for a ride.

One of the jobs of a psychotherapist is to encourage others to face their present challenges and fears in healthy ways.  The other is to help them access their own true potentials with the idea that living authentically and with purpose can not only empower themselves but all that influence.  I recently heard that each person has an impact on 100,000 others.  No hard data here but when I thought about the idea, it inspired me more.  What you do matters!

Sparky showed up in my dream. He was one of those “little dogs” that are prone to lots of barking.  I’m a cat person so dogs don’t usually hang around my space – and even in the dream I was walking Sparky for his owner and was “doing my job.”  We walked together down the city street. The barking started  suddenly and  I reacted with alarm as he pulled on the leash to get me to go the other way.  I was resisting yet he found a way to break free from the leash and collar.  He started running the short distance away where, slightly hidden from the sidewalk, sat a man holding another “little dog” only what this man was doing to this dog was abusive.  There was blood around the dog as the man continued his abuse.  I was horrified and frozen.  Sparky wouldn’t relent.  He bravely continued to bark in alarm.  I wanted a way out….I had to see the perpetrator’s eyes to realize there was no way to turn away from this  evil glare.  I knew I had to act.  I found myself with a garden hose in my hand with one of those multiple setting attachments like the one I use at home.  I struggled to find just the right angle to hit him with the water spray in the face. He became even angrier and grabbed a mouse from the sidewalk and crushed it in front of me.  I kept spraying until he started to dissolve into oblivion.  Simutaneously, time fast forwarded and a small storefront with an arcade and kids playing emerged in the same spot.  A total shift.  I didn’t get to follow Sparky through the dream but when I awoke, I sensed a new awareness of fear and desire to break through my own fears, face them and transform them with love and compassion….my own Star Wars battle with the garden hose.  I appreciated the ordinary means used to stand my ground amidst the drama of what the dream unfolded.

The dog symbolizes loyalty and personal integrity.  When we respond to life out of fear of disapproval or to avoid conflict you deny your own authority and give away your power.  Accessing your inner power or wisdom rather than assume others have better capacities or authority is called for when a dog enters your space.  In my case, this dream brought forth this quality of integrity and inner strength that may not have been acknowledged as it should be.  Sparky was able to break free from the collar and the leash and do what he had to do to protect one of his own.  What am I willing to do to be loyal true to my own heart’s wisdom and truth?  How can you break free from the negativity and fears that may have been triggered during this pandemic in the world? What are the big questions coming up in your life?

Pay attention to any dreams, events or experiences that are coming in front of you during these new times.  Find honor in your process and  keep walking forward.  There is support pouring in….it’s finding what you need that will make things interesting.

May the force of love and honor be with you.





The Beetle and the Hummingbird – Tips to Regain Balance


The days have started to blur together.  “They” were right – this day, next day, the other day, someday, have started to take on a meaning.  I still have a semblance of a schedule given my tele-health work, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference.  The flow has found its way in this new way of living.  My work allows me to connect with people in different parts of the world and the understanding of how different cultures are experiencing these lock-down, stay at home rules that have been enacted in various ways.  Let’s just say, we are all reeling.   I’ve witnessed many reactions – “I finally have time perception, the  overwhelmed at needing to develop or upgrade technology skills, coming up with a whole new playbook so to speak in the working and connecting world,  and the isolated/depressed/negative  storm – one that I’ve had waves of myself.  Emotions can move in with stealth as our emotional skins are rather thin right now.  I experienced this wave Easter morning while watching a church service online.

The trigger was a change that required an adjustment.  Within a millisecond, I felt the wave surge and the emotions begin their “familiar” pattern.  The ANT” s (Automatic Negative Thoughts) came rolling in.  Before I knew it, I was upset, sad, frustrated and discouraged all at the same time.  On the surface, the event really didn’t measure up to what I experienced yet there it was.  Another emotional allergy had surfaced.   Based on my own work, I knew this could be another opportunity to learn and practice what I preach; yet at that moment I left my heart self and the joy of the day and slid right into misery.   The damage had already been done, meaning my brain was already impacted by the stress response…and with all the emphasis on strengthening your immune system, I knew any imbalance sucks energy.  Gratefully, I knew there was a way to regain the balance and get back on the even keel.  Here are my tips:

  1. Always the awareness – know your body’s response to stressors.  Notice mood, stomach, breath, muscle tightness, agitation, irritation, anger or fear.  For me it was the wave of change – uncertainty, what’s going to happen energy.
  2. Connect the thoughts and beliefs – As difficult as this may be its key to the process.
  3. Avoid dwelling on negative thoughts. Sometimes the ego mind wants to take a bath in the stress and keep the punishment going.  Any unhealed negative beliefs we carry can be activated – and sometimes in only that famous millisecond.  For me, one of them was “It’s not fair, I thought……”
  4. Learn and practice self-compassion – This term is being used a lot these days when all of us are being tested on many levels. The book I’m suggesting is Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, by Kristin Neff, Ph.D.  I needed to try a few different approaches in order for my brain to “settle down”  One of my favorites worked.  I went out into nature.  I spent time with my surroundings and looked for animals.  It was only a beetle and a hummingbird – but wait…they are powerful medicine!

Beetles symbolize the importance of moving forward while using compromise and integrity as your guideposts.  Change will most certainly come, and it is time to consider evaluating some of those old beliefs about yourself.  I posed these as questions to myself.  How am I going to accept these changes without compromising my own integrity while still compromising?  Sometimes, in personal growth, integrity needs to be examined.  When you can focus the stress on growth, the balance to that sense of balance can occur.

The hummingbird flew in towards the end of my hike and reminded me of its resiliency, joy, power, desire for sweetness and independence.  Hummingbird lives in the present – it needs to focus on keeping its body in the air and doing all those amazing feats in the air.  It is unique in the bird family.

  1. Start a meditation practice. This may depend on your personality/spiritual preferences, but most practices have similar features.  Focus, calming, opening to the bigger picture and allowing a deeper connection to life.  I started a couple of new ones – seeing which one worked better for me.  I decided to keep both especially during this time.  Allow sensations rather than control/manage or judge them.  You need to develop brain muscle and  mediation builds this.


During crisis times, brain is overworked, and brain health overlooked.  The key here is knowledge and support.  We all have capacity for a better functioning brain.  Finding the motivation during stressful times is the trick.  You can outsmart your ego-habitual mind to think and create the things your heart desires.


Begin with the end in mind. I saw a better mood and wisdom in my mind’s eye.  In my case, I decided to go outside, find support in nature and my partner, go through the steps and make a new decision about how to think about the situation that had knocked me off balance.  I even enjoyed the de-tox broth filled with healthy herbs and vegetables from the book Liver Rescue by Anthony Williams.  It’s a process with many rewards.


I wish you a balanced day! 

Blazing New Trails – Tips to Step Up


The animal that is guiding me today is the dolphin.  “Dolphin speaks to us of the breath of life.” This is from the book Medicine Cards.  Studying and learning from the animals has always helped me in the greatest times of need.  Breath connects us with our inner wisdom of being human and is one of the keys to help release unwanted emotions.  These are times of great change and adjustments.  One of my adjustment activities that I referred to in my previous blog has emerged.  Writing is one such way to tap into this creativity and the other was the intention to encourage others as well as myself to take this phenomenon that has occurred in the world and find ways to step up for themselves and for the greater good.

As a child of the 70’’s I remember a television show called Flipper, the “talking” dolphin.  Flipper just flipped around in the water and talked dolphin.   I imagined what it would be like to swim around and dive deep within the blue ocean waters.  As an adult I still can dream of that feeling of freedom and presence with nature in my imagination. Turns out Dolphin is that symbolic connection to language, Divine Spirit and Mother Earth.  This is that time to link with others and be part of the solution rather than succumb to the fear/gloom/doom that bombards the mind daily.

Tip 1 – Actively Accept  Start where you are at.  Accept whatever mood state you are in as a result of the changes in lifestyle, job, routines in your life.  I wonder what the dolphin would do when encountering crisis in its environment.  One thing is certain, he/she would continue to breathe and do whatever is possible to retain the rhythmic flow.  Overthinking and panic aren’t part of the natural world.  Fear can be met with action.

Tip 2 – Assess your needs  Obviously, we all have the basic needs of shelter, food, air and water.  The emotional needs are just as crucial.  Our need to feel love and express love is at the heart of each person.  We all have a different level of what can satisfy these needs.  That’s why I strongly encourage people that I work with to assess the way their emotional needs are getting met or not.  It’s subjective and goes by how you feel.  Do you really feel loved?  Are you free to express love and feel safe?  Basic questions but so important!  Be honest with yourself.  If they are being met its easier to move out of survival living.  If there are gaps here, there are many things one can do to help get them met.  First set the intention you desire to have them met and set the plan for these needs to be met.  When these emotional needs are met, we are free to grow through adversities with courage and love in our hearts.

Tip 3 – Evaluate your relationships – Smothering or isolating – Where do you find yourself on the spectrum?  We aren’t used to so much togetherness – For me with kids grown it’s one thing, for others with a busy household, it would be another.  Managing with resilience rather than overwhelm would be the goal here.  It’s easy to say Be Kind but that is so important.  When we give in to our negative emotions, have a plan in place with your partner and family.  Let them know ahead of time what the plan is, what your stress style is and that you have made the choice to not only survive during this time but to find a new resilience and depth of life.  Whatever words you choose, you communicate the energy of our survival from our ancestors and consciously enter a new age of evolution and growth from adversity.

Tip 4 – Don’t lose sight of the Basics – Eat as healthy as you can.  Drink more clean water with lime/lemon, consider celery/green juices each morning, try new things, keep warm or cool as your body needs.  Check in with yourself intentionally using the Dolphin way of breathing.  There is a popular technique called the 4-7-8 breath.  This is easily found on YouTube and is a great practice to inhale, hold and exhale with rhythm.  Whenever we use breath consciously, we can connect to our inner wisdom and access this powerful energy we all carry.   I was out in nature today and found a little stream to experience and took the time to breathe – there was no where I really had to be in 5 minutes.   This may look very different for the workers during this crisis but doesn’t change the importance of caring for themselves while caring for others.

Wisdom from Dolphin

We will all swim through this dark and stormy night.

Connection to the power within your spirit is always accessible with your breath.

We have new opportunities to know ourselves and others better.

Break some of the old habits and barriers to your true potential and know that each step you take now has great possibilities/life lessons.

Know that you are Loved and Whole in the eyes of Spirit.  Use your energy to step up and ride the dark waves of uncertainty.

We are entering into new times…..

Uncharted Land Ahead – Caring For Your Emotions


The mountain lion showed up in my dream this week.  Here he was in the middle of the street outside our home.  He snarled and curled around me as he prepared his next step.  I froze yet remained acutely aware of what was happening.  It was the moment of the ages.  Suddenly, a neighbor walked outside and distracted the lion which worked to allow me the time to run to safety.  I was so grateful to this neighbor and the courage displayed.

The virus lion has made its appearance in our land and pounced on the top of our surprised heads.  Even though epidemics are no stranger to the world arena, they are to the US.  I now realize the complacency of my train of thought when it came to this subject.  Images of the Ebola crisis and all its tragedies would flash in my mind and I reacted with a complacent empathy of people worlds away.

The awareness of the global community is taking shape in a new way.  I can no longer sit in the bubble I’d been in basically my whole life and career.  What was this virus doing in my space?  Within the last week, I have ridden the roller coaster of emotions that may be expected in a crisis like this – one we had so little preparation for – so little real knowledge.  As a psychotherapist I witness many types of emotional traumas yet feel ill prepared for the collective reaction I am seeing now.  The aftermath of 9/11 is as close to that as I have experienced, and I thought that was huge.   It feels to me like the snowball is unloosed from the mountain, grows bigger each second and is on the path of destruction with anything in its path.  Only this little virus can’t be seen.  To be honest, my anxiety felt like its own snowball and I saw the land of feeling out of control in my sight.  At this writing there is snowballs flying around but the landscape is changing.

My First Step

The antidote for stress is creativity.  I don’t know how many times I have told that to people. I say it because I believe it.  The test is now.  The test is NOW.   I started this creativity search with an intention.  And that was to find my way back to a sense of control and well-being and to do it in the most loving way possible.  Connecting love in this intention is important for as we know, love carries with it the highest energy frequency in the body.  Love Heals All is one of those spiritual wisdoms and my guiding light.  It’s been murky lately so as I’ve done before in my life, it’s back to step one.  In the 12-step program that step indicates a surrender to what you are feeling/experiencing and allowing openness for help from Divine/Spirit/Higher power.

Step 2 – Education

I’m learning, listening, and taking it all in.  What is fact/fiction and all the gray?  Given that there remains unknows, this gray awareness is important to understand.  I chose the sources I felt best reflected the govt, science and the spiritual community.  I began the filtering process from more the observer perspective and tried to keep my alarmist personality tendencies at bay.

Colorful enneagram of personality diagram in white background

There are distinct personality types that we all have as humans.  They exist in humanity so we can get the job of living done.  Understanding your own personality type can empower you when you experience your “automatic” reactions and wonder where they came from.  The enneagram is one such personality test I often suggest.  There are several tests out there but this one is free and takes relatively little time to take…and time is what we might have a little more of these days.

Once you have this knowledge, you can use this information to understand some ways to take more control of your thoughts and emotions and simply be kinder to yourself.  Kindness and survival emotions of fear and anger don’t mingle well.

Step 3 – Get busy…. with adjusting activities.  Worry/concern is one thing – engaging with the fear or other negative emotions is the immune buster.  I can make a list now of the new stressors that have developed as a result of what’s happening and felt on the edge of a big screaming roller coaster deep dive until I realized I was there.  It was so easy to get there as all of this took me by surprise.  This is the first day of the rest of your life.  Another common phrase that I will often refer to that until now was underappreciated.  Here is a list of adjusting activities that I am beginning to develop for these times.  Check back for more in the future.

Adjusting Activities for Mental Health

  1. Start the day with meditation. Find your style whether it be prayer, conscious breathing, singing chants, Tai Chi or Qi Gong, or a gratitude practice.  Do it every day.  60-120 minutes is the goal!
  2. Develop a new daily routine – and treat it as such. Any new habits take awhile to gel so set the intention and be reassured that you are made for this.  The human body needs routines and after an initial resistance will cooperate.  Respect your unique situation.  Play something motivational.  I’m listening to one of Tony Robbins audio books for that. Joe Dispenza’s Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself can be eye-opening as well.
  3. Take special attention to your diet. This is not the time for processed food.  Immune boosting foods need to be the focus for all of us.
  4. Connect with others! We’ve been hearing a lot about that in the media.  Go with that!  There are so many great formats/technologies.  Be open to visiting with neighbors.  In modern times, this has gone by the wayside.  Community may be making a comeback.
  5. Get outside – That’s another no-brainer. If you can’t get out that day look outside, focus on something you see and stay with it and listen to that inner intuitive voice.    What I’m beginning to realize is….
  6. Start a journal of some kind. We are living in historic times.
  7. Have faith that this too shall pass.

The mountain lion symbolizes courage, leadership, strength, integrity and grace.  What animal may be showing up in your path?  Be aware and let’s step forward together.

Non-Pharmaceutical Ways To Manage Depression, Anxiety and Stress


My work as clinical social worker and psychotherapist has evolved greatly since I started in the late 80’s.  Historically, the pharmaceutical industry has influenced the treatment of mental health. When I began to realize some of the negative impacts and limitations that it had, I started the slow process of learning a new way of thinking about mental health treatment and realized that I wasn’t the only one with limitations.  The Dr.’s and prescribers were limited and dependent in large part to what the medical community was given. My intentions had always been in giving others healthy options to overcome their challenges but found they had fallen short due to my lack of information and misinformation by the culture.  My practice has now developed a more holistic and integrative model.  There are times when medications are needed but far less than before.   The following is a list of strategies, practices and product options that I have found effective in recovery and healing.   This list is informational only as choosing what is best for you is individual and intuitive to each person.


TALK THERAPY – Building a trusting relationship with a provider is the foundation for growth.  Most therapeutic modalities – all those evidence-based ones – have at it’s core a positive rapport with the person.  That is why choosing the right therapist can be tricky.  We all have unique backgrounds with our own personality style and emotional triggers or allergies as I like to call them.  The heart of growth is this connection.   Remember any teacher that you put your trust in?  Trust on any level is powerful.  I base my practice from a background of cognitive behavioral and trauma theories, systemic family and relationship modalities and an eclectic blend of spirituality, natural healing, and psychosomatic healing approaches.  There are so many effective ones out there in this age of technology.  I’ve incorporated apps, YouTube, and other tools that can help learn/understand a current challenge.


RELATIONSHIP EMPOWERMENT – Most of us grew up in a time when roles were prescribed and planned in one way or another.  We survived because our ancestors found some of these traditions were crucial in this survival.  They did their job and now we are evolving!  This is exciting yet can be pretty threatening to the old ways of living.  Embracing who we are as individuals while creating loving relationships is at the heart of this evolution.  I facilitated workshops over the last year called Living from the Power of your Heart.  There is an empowerment wave going on in the world and we are part of it.  This takes education, knowledge, skills and support…and lots of it!  That is one of my roles as a therapist – I find ways to teach, coach, practice and create a positive environment for this evolution.  My teachers have come from the relationship education, attachment theory and a comprehensive relationship skill program called PAIRS.  Lori Gordon developed this program to find real strategies to solve the puzzles that pain and conflict can create in love relationships.   Sue Johnson is one of the researchers and teachers that have helped others understand how critical it is to get our emotional bonding needs met from infancy until the end of our lives.


NUTRITION/SUPPLEMENTS – Science and wisdom are the keys here.  Mood is entwined with how we feed and care for our brain.  We now know so much more about what to eat to function at our best.  When we are feeling anxious or depressed, our old survival centers of the brain tend to take over and we are drawn to comfort food, caffeine, alcohol, sugar etc.  It’s essential to find the supports to overcome these old habits and urges, make the changes and feel the rewards of a healthy, whole foods, plant-based diet.  Hydration is a key.  I’ve added in a large glass of celery juice each morning to help get a good start for the day.  I was skeptical but now I’m a believer and happy that I created a good habit in my morning routine.  There are others such as starting the AM with the juice of ½ to one whole lemon or lime.  Add it to water immediately upon awakening.  It sends a detox signal to your body.  I often suggest this to the clients I work with to help flush the effects of stress from their bodies.  It’s simple but over time very effective.  Dan Amen has done extensive research on nutrition and the brain and specific foods to focus on.   Minimizing or eliminating sugar, gluten, caffeine and dairy are good starting points for anyone to consider improving mood and heal the body.

Finding the right supplements for your body is another key.  There are many schools of thought about all the things you should take to feel better.  The best antidepressants aren’t always pharmaceuticals.  Nature and smart science can help.  In the Jan. 2020 issue of Psychology Today, there are four compounds that can significantly impact mood.  Omega 3’s, Curcumin, Vitamin C and Magnesium.  According to this research it would take about 3 tablespoons of turmeric to equal the dose or 250-500 mg of Curcumin.  I have worked with a Superfood blend of herbs and antioxidants called MIND to supplement as well.


SPIRITUATLITY – One of the indicators for a healthy relationship is a shared spirituality.  I explain this to couples this way:  Most of us didn’t grow up in families where this was safely and freely done.  We usually passed on what we grew up with or a version of its opposite based on what our parents experienced.  Shared spirituality is learning how to discuss what’s meaningful to each other and how they see their purpose for living on this planet at this moment in time.   It’s learning how to create a depth within ourselves given the ancient truth that each of us is born with an essence to love and be loved that goes beyond just mere survival.  We want to grow, thrive and feel safe.  Most of us got stuck in stress which created a shutdown of the heart, keeping us stuck in the old patterns of survival.  There is a wave of change coming.  We now have the tools available to evolve and reach our potentials like never.  The key is finding tools to learn and a place to practice these new skills.  The rewards are great.


GROUNDING PRACTICES – Everyone needs grounding practices to cope with this highly energized and computerized culture.  We are constantly exposed to EMF’s from environment, our devices and screen time.  Daily body breathing, meditation, energetic techniques to remove stress and spending time in nature are so important.  The simple act of shaking your body gently with the intention of releasing stress can help when triggered.  Animals do this naturally.  In my practice we pick out the types of grounding exercises best suited for the individual.  Doing something is the key. Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, are among some of the ancient arts that have stood the test of time.  Developing a basic EMF protocol is new and very important for the brain. Again, temperament, body type and your current situation all play a part in what is best for you.  Recently, I began incorporating Donna Eden’s energy routine to my list of things I do.  Learning to trace your meridians can make a difference.


AROMATHERAPY – I have practiced as an aromatherapist for several years.  I was drawn to the energy of these essences after I experienced a healing using them.  I “woke up” to the plants and to a new relationship with them.  There are several essential oils that specifically help mood and emotional health.  I usually will suggest the ones that may be effective depending on your situation.  My favorites today (and they can change) are Red Mandarin, Eucalyptus radiata, Ravintsara and Lavender Vera.  They help with mood and cold symptoms.  There are blends to motivate, calm, empower and awaken our sensual/sexual selves.


DEVELOPING INTUTION – I once heard the term “Blue sense” when referring to the intuitive abilities of police officers.  There was a training for the officers to help them develop these skills.  We all have intuitive knowledge that is available to us.  These skills have not been taught most likely do to old fears/myths from past connections to “psychics” and witches.  These beliefs are old and do not serve our evolving culture anymore.  Wisdom of the heart is connected to love, authenticity and living to our fullest potential. One tool to help tune in is called muscle testing.  It’s a way to use your own body to connect to your inner wisdom.  It takes some practice but it’s worth it.  Men and women find their own style to tap into themselves.  The Heart Brain Coherence practice is one such way to find these answers.  Check out my earlier blogs for the full exercise.


PHYSCIAL EXERCISE – This is essential for mood health.  You don’t have to run any races or meet some lofty goals.  But you do need something to “Just Do it” The important thing here is finding a way to connect to your body and move.  We are often told to rest if we get injured but the logistics of this is limited.  Rest is good for a brief time only.  Our bodies need to communicate through movement.  Low mood or negative thinking puts a cloud over motivation.  I like to find the tricks to side step this cloud and float through it.  Even marching in place saying the affirmation, I am up and ready, I am up and ready, can start the movement.  Creativity is the anecdote to stress.  If one strategy doesn’t work, find another.  I utilize YouTube often to access some of these strategies so you can try out some of these,



ALPHA STIM – For relief of anxiety, depression and insomnia, Alpha-Stim is a revolutionary tool which helps regulate the body’s own electrical impulses in a safe, easy and comfortable way. The primary distinctive feature in a medical device is the wavefrom, and the Alpha-Stim has a uniquely effective waveform. The application of direct electrical treatment to the brain, along with our treatment protocols for target problems also make the difference that no other device has been able to emulate.

Alpha-Stim is very safe and easy to use. The current is applied by easy-to-use clips that attach on the ear lobes. Used just 20-60 minutes every day, every other day, or on an as needed basis, Alpha-Stim can help induce a pleasant, relaxed feeling of wellbeing. Only one out of 506 people will experience a mild headache, and one out of 910 will have a skin reaction at the electrode site. There are no other significant side effects reported in over 40 research studies.



LIFEWAVE TECHNOLOGY – While on the path of my own healing journey I discovered these patches that facilitate healing through light frequency – “phototherapy”.  These patches use nanotechnology; tiny molecules of oxygen, amino acids, sugars and water that are put together in a homeopathic matrix sandwiched inside the impermeable waterproof patch materials.  Nothing enters the body.  The effect is purely energetic – a signaling mechanism so to speak.  As the patches are placed on the body, it starts to frequency modulate the body’s field of energy, much like a radio frequency modulates the radio waves to get a radio stations signal.   Each patch has a different organic crystalline structure and is designed to balance different body systems through the infrared light spectrum of energy.

Research has shown that you can change a cell’s function by giving it a chemical message or a non-chemical signal.  A chemical message would be a supplement for example.  Life Wave would be a non-chemical signal.  It’s like when you go out into the sun and your skin tans.  The cells of the body respond to the frequency of energy (light) to produce melanin as well as Vitamin D.  When Life Wave patches are placed on specific meridian points, the messaging system is enhanced greatly because the meridians already serve as a superhighway of information.

The patches designed specifically for mood, inflammation, energy, metabolism and immune health.  I have experimented with a variety of patches for health, mood and repair.  I have found them to be effective in my own healing and energy.


This summary is designed to highlight the more natural treatments I use in my practice and my own life to positively impact mood and mental health.  I find the more I practice and tune into my wise heart, the more abundant life becomes.  My belief is that we all deserve abundance in whatever form that will shine.  I welcome your comments and questions.   This is the year of the heart.  May we all find some new ways to let love flow.   Tina M Johnson, LCSW









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.

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.