Contentment: A Contrast

I missed my New Years post this year. The truth is I wasn’t quite sure how to write it. This year has brought more evolutions than one shift in calendar years can reflect. I suppose that it reflects the turning of a century more than ever.

Last I wrote I spoke to creating space for things to unfold. Space was created across the board and my awareness was heightened to all areas where I was off kilter. I often feel as though one speaking to their own maturity discredits that maturity- however I have felt new stability and maturity enter into all my reactions, decisions and consistencies since allowing space to simply be.

In the fall of 2019 we booked a trip to New Zealand for which we depart in a few weeks. About a decade ago, a ticket booked to New Zealand started this blog. The contrast I am finding between who I was on that first trip in 2011 to New Zealand, a totally unprepared 19year old, to who I am now is ripe with metaphors.

This upcoming holiday is already vastly different in almost every way to the working gap year I ventured on in 2011. At 19 I departed shortly after my birthday in September to New Zealand where I landed into a groom job at a “renowned” show jumping farm just outside of Auckland. The plan I had formed was to spend nine months working on this farm in what I assumed would be my dream job. Laugh out loud.

What really happened was a blurred six months of extreme and very tough self discovery. I lasted two months at what can only be referred to as the “job” (more like volunteer experience, that made me realize I was better suited to self employment, experienced Auckland during the rugby world up (and got lost/wandered the city until 4am), got sick too many times, experienced the rodeo circuit, got sick some more, shaved my head for moneyI desperately needed, became the bald girl, exercised steeplechase horses, hiked a glacier, somewhere between these two events developed a cyst in the area around my tail bone, ignored pain, developed infection, ended my trip with septic shock and a five day excursion in the Dunedin hospital fighting off surgery before flying home.

It was a tough trip and a huge growth point. On that trip, for all the scary/lonely/difficult moments I also experienced support from unexpected places, the magic that is NZ, and enough reflective material for a life time. I changed my career path on that trip and that led me into the AT program at UWinnipeg, which was the launch point for my career as it is now. I learned how to take care of myself on that trip. I learned the cause and effect of ignoring my body on that trip. I experienced life beyond superficiality in appearance and began to figure out how to set my standards for how others treated me.

Life is different now.

I wrote in my journal on Jan 1, 2020: “If 2019 was the year that burned things down to ask, 2020 is the year the phoenix rises”.

2019 felt to me like a slow burn of everything I had held onto to create who I thought I was.  I was aware I was going through a major shift – and how things manifested never felt incorrect though it often surprised me.

I began to consciously choose things that fertilized evolution, and let die the things that no longer served. I became aware of coping mechanisms that had served me once perhaps, but no longer had a progressive purpose. Things like my relationship to food, my relationship to money, my expression of truth in various situations, and my relationship to motivation all shifted.

As evident in my last post on creating space, I chose “doing less” much more consciously than I chose “doing more”. In the years that followed my last adventure to NZ I had always chosen “more”. I filled my life to the brim with education, relationships, jobs, businesses, ambition. Over those years my motivation changed. My ability to push through died. Burn out became normal. Toxic relationships prevailed and my ability to effectively lead, express and maintain balance fizzled. And then.. I just couldn’t any more. My body wouldn’t allow it and anxiety woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me things had to change.

My rebrand in the fall was my conscious expression of choosing myself again. Redirecting my efforts towards my true expression, professionally and personally, and creating space for that evolution to organically occur instead of attempting to force it.

In the last month or so I’ve experienced a rebirth of all those things I had to let go of. I reframed my relationship to food and to money. I left space where shadows told me to fill it. I expressed what my intuition called for me to express on my professional forums and let myself be guided in how I approach treating others. I stayed present in my awareness for my reactions in all sorts of situations and in that space created I began to heal myself on numerous levels of my being.

And now… I feel well enough to add more back in. I crave riding again. I crave going to the gym to push myself again. I truly can and want to do more once again, in a way I don’t think I’ve felt since the beginning of the decade.

All of this is a testament to the power of rest. To leaning in to fatigue and exhaustion instead of rallying against those signals. We so often treat calls from our body as inconveniences and yet when we allow our body to guide us, with patience, we find it’s the only true way to heal ourselves.

When we first booked this upcoming excursion to NZ I struggled with negative flashbacks for a few weeks. Visions of pain, mistreatment, near death experiences clouded my excitement. My tailbone hurt for a week after we booked the tickets, the same way it hurts every March around the same time of year it hurt originally. Those who say our body doesn’t remember are lost in a world of ignorance.

Yet, in space and time those visions of resentment became rallying excitement. How lucky am I to return to a place that holds such magic, memories, and luxury at a time in my life where I can create a whole new experience?

“You cannot erase memories but you can let go of the heavy energy that is attached to them” – Yung Pueblo

If I were to write a letter to that nineteen year old experiencing life at the beginning of this decade the words would encourage her to continue walking through the world with her eyes wide open.

If I were to write to the fiery, ambitious twenty something that scorched her way through competitive riding and university life the words would remind her to listen to her body and not use exercise as her only outlet for stress. That burnout takes more patience than she’ll have, and that the body will get the rest it needs one way or another.

If I were to write to a future version of me I would write in a way that would remind her to exercise expressions of gratitude no matter her circumstance, and remind her that she has a tendency to underestimate her power to create exactly the reality she wants. Her contentment comes from creating space to enjoy each moment, from balance, not from trying to create more moments.

Life is good. My relationships to material aspects in my life, to my SO, to my body, and to my work are ritualized by gratitude and presence. Contentment fills space created.

Stay tuned for NZ adventures round two 😉

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Space, Wide Open

I used to have this dream when I was on the cusp of falling asleep. I was floating through the world and as I drifted my size would change. I would shift from shrinking so much that everything around me seemed so massive to expanding in such a way that I was taking up huge chunks of space, compressing everything around me. There were no emotions attached to the dream, though I remember feeling slight anxiety about the transitory nature of my matter.
Life for me lately has been fully encompassed by creating space.
For the first time in a very long time (ever?) I am truly being called towards stillness in created space.
Filling space has never been a problem for me. Whether it’s with ambitious projects, eating, exercise, businesses, sports, volunteer work, travel or social endeavors- I am an expert at filling time and space. These are things I’ve been shedding. Replacing the narrative of “I should therefore I will” with “I choose to because I desire to” as guidance has unveiled how much my nature escapes the present moment with directive space filling.
And so, we sit in empty spaces and resist the urge to fill them.
There is an interesting paradox for me forming between my tendency to fill space energetically and otherwise with busy-ness, as well as my lean towards using food as another filler. It’s been a year of imbalances coming to the forefront. The year started with a stark wake up call when my body went on revolt. Symptoms including extreme hormonal imbalance symptoms, weight gain, and a loss of the freedoms I used to have with my movement and metabolism. What had likely began as adrenal fatigue years ago went full scale, roping in my thyroid and hormones too. All this on top of facing the shedding of the brand I spent my early career years building and growing, and working through transitions in my personal life.
What I’ve noticed now after dedicating time to rebalancing is that while my symptoms have largely cleared up, what I am left with is about 40 extra pounds on my body from where I started. It seems even my body is more comfortable with filling space than it is with allowing voids to be happy places too. This, in itself, has created it’s own wave to ride along the journey.
It’s brought to my attention that I’ve always had body issues, as many women do. As I clear out space internally and externally I am left with rampant anxiety and judgement on self, two things I haven’t really ever had to face. The validation offered to me via sports, competitive riding success, entrepreneurship and management early on in adult life kept my energy focused elsewhere. I am now being asked to redefine my relationships with aesthetics, femininity, my physical presence, and myself. I am lucky enough to be on this portion of the journey with a unbelievably sound partnership.. contrast to experiences in the past that were a part of my subconscious scheme to fill space with other’s chaos so I did not have to experience my own chaos.
In a recent breathwork session I had a vision of myself, my body, becoming the unsaid things between adults of my childhood. Things I’d absorbed unknowingly as an innocent. Things that I perceived made me guilty by default.
Space does not tell us to fill it. Rather, we find ways to fill and organize it for our own entitlement. Filling space brings many of us comfort, as wide open space remind how insignificant our human worries can be. Our bodies are a direct representation of our relation to space and to ourselves. The unconscious will shift our outwards flesh into whatever form it needs to feel safe. How many of us walk around entirely unaware of this fascinating process?
As I always do, I’ve settled into this awareness. There is a poetry to sitting with everything that swirls around a liberated space. Some days I find emptiness with a peacefulness alongside it. Other days I am insatiable with the need to fill space. The rest I am content to just observe. Adding a layer onto this I’ve begun (on ND’s orders) experimenting with intermittent fasting. It’s surprised me how easy it is to fall into this routine. It’s brought purpose and logic to feeling open, and an awareness to how much I’ve filled space just for the sake of feeling full in the past. It feels less like a challenge and more like an awakening. As if a connected piece of me is being shaken out of a slumber and rising up to the surface again; having been sheltered from the storm and the metamorphosis by a well crafted armor.
Our bodies do know best, after all, as much as we like to think otherwise.
The most fascinating part of all this to me is how much more drawn I am to creative work. Painting, writing, intuitive movement have all been calling me more and more. I find it difficult to stay within a “status quo” lifestyle and instead find myself exploring and enjoying the quietness of slow days. It’s as though I am slowly detoxing the hustle and grind energy from my body; allowing myself to expand and contract in a more synonymous flow with the ebb and flow of nature.
My new workspace and freedom to expand into my own evolution has provided a wonderful canvas for my professional life. Space in my schedule no longer brings anxiety. Instead it brings time to rest, play, create or simply be. I do not know exactly what comes next and the internal voice affirms that this is okay. I can continue writing this chapter without plotting the next, for now. I can simply exist –  no permission needed- with the love that surrounds me, the creativity that fills me and the wide open spaces I am creating for myself.
Is that not what we are here to do? Simply being; existing in the wide open spaces we find ourselves in with no more than a witnessing of how we fill those spaces.

Closure + Balance

The never ending quest.
The last time I wrote about my personal journey I spoke about the concept of living at ease. This theme has become the theme of my summer. What started as a shift into realizing that it was safe and okay to NOT choose the harder road (yes, this actually took convincing) has become my personal mantra.
To say I’ve been going through a complete reconstruction of my immediate reality would be a truth.
Last month I jumped off the cliff I’d been standing on for a few months too long and closed my main business, Integrative Movement. It was one of the most freeing days of my life. This larger scale practice had been eating me up.
I’d been feeling trapped inside of that frame and had already tried a few ways to remodel and reshape it to fit who I was becoming, but nothing seemed quite right and the bindings only were getting tighter. IM had become synonymous with ME and I’d been revamping myself for a while already.. IM wasn’t keeping up. A year ago this decision seemed like the worst possible outcome.. I truly believed that it would be giving up, letting myself and others down. The key turn around there was the realization that in worrying about letting others down, I was indeed letting myself down.
Slowly I began to see all the ways in which me holding onto something that no longer fit was actually stunting my growth in other directions that were calling to me. RideWell was beginning to explode in all the good ways with calls coming from all over western Canada, and my personal practice within IM was also flourishing- though I was struggling to keep up with these positive demands due to struggling to meet the demands of management, supporting others and keeping the business itself afloat- while still trying to have a personal life and enjoy life in general.
All this alongside personal health transitions. I’ve been out of balance in some way health wise it seems for years, specifically since having Mono in my last year of University. That followed by what seemed like a never ending burn out cycle I finally seemed to step out of this year- only to be met with what is likely the after effects of all those years of imbalances.. hormonal imbalances and evident adrenal fatigue. In a matter of a few months this spring my body began to show me all the ways it’d been neglected. Weight gain, thyroid imbalance, hormonal imbalance symptoms, volatile cycles combined with anxiety and depression. Seemingly out of nowhere (but really had been building for a few years, likely).
So, I jumped off the damn cliff.
I was ready to evolve into the newest version of myself- and that meant letting go of previous versions. That also meant confronting head on body image issues, imbalances within myself and accepting all of it as part of me, too.
My landing was quite soft. Creativity flowed and I rebranding my practice into Evoke which fits nicely around my current version of self, with room to grow and evolve, too. RideWell clients continued to expand and I had the mental space and energy to expand with them. While I had some temper tantrums (and still do) around my health and ever changing body- I also have welcomed a new form of acceptance, too. The last few weeks I’ve been feeling quite balanced and content- so much so I actually had to quell some shadowy uprising of fear around that content-ness.
The decision around closing out one part of my professional life to focus in and expand into others was affirmed in many, many ways. I found and signed a lease on a beautiful new workspace that embodies where I currently am at. Supportive relationships were highlighted and my health has begun to improve in noticeable ways.
All the signs have been pointing towards learning the lesson of supporting oneself and enjoying oneself in this life that we have to do so with. Hilariously, the moments where I notice anxiety or stress creeping in is when I try to plan out the next steps. I’ve reached the capstone of my last five year map- and I haven’t quite figured out the details of my next map. I’m being guided right now to accept that unknown and let the map form itself for a while- enjoy the present moment.
Perhaps that is the only map I need.
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The Threat of Healing

Healing is something we are all destined to do. Whether it’s recovering from an acute, unexpected injury, rehabbing a long term pain or unraveling trauma within ourselves or generation.  

Healing is talked about constantly- but what we don’t often hear about is the risks associated with healing, the challenges.

When it comes to healing, especially in the case of longer held pains or traumas, we first need to become aware of the root cause(s) behind the present issue. Back pain is rarely ever just back pain, just as emotional trauma is rarely just related to one event. Pain itself, emotional or physical, is always deeply rooted in a message from our nervous system. The nervous system effectively is like a giant antenna- sensing into our environments and always questioning and confirming our safety. The nervous system also is rooted in patterns. It likes to know what to expect and how to keep us safe- which means it develops unconscious patterning to operate emotionally and physically in the world based on what was imprinted or learned in our childhoods (usually from birth to the age of seven). This is why many physical issues in health are blamed on genetics, but new evidence is emerging to support arguments against genetics being to blame for health problems.. rather suggesting that we learn patterning from those who raise us and therefore that patterning itself is what leads us into the same health as our elders. There is also much support now for the field of epigenetics- which is showing us how unresolved traumas from generations passed are embedded in us and surfacing to be resolved in our lifetimes.

Our emotions and subconscious beliefs deeply effect how we present ourselves in our physical bodies. When we think of our conscious being and unconscious/subconscious parts – most of us immediately picture stuff going on in our heads. The fascinating thing is that it’s often the opposite. Many of us are unconscious to the patterns, emotions, memories, and traumas we hold in tissues and patterns below our jawline. Your tendency towards anxiety may be as a result of an unspoken event that happened to your great grandmother, causing a deep rooted emotional pattern to emerge through bloodlines. Have the same knee osteoarthritis your dad has? Likely stems from growing up and learning to walk by watching him first- mirroring his movement patterns and setting the baseline for biomechanical issues related to joint degeneration down the road.

My work with clients is to help them work through the layers of what’s actually causing their issue, which inherently opens the door for other previously unconscious patterns to emerge. Herein lies the first risk (I prefer the word challenge) of healing. Asking the question why is this happening, instead of putting a quick fix modality to take the pain away, implies that we are willing to hear the answers.

The bigger risk (challenge)? Rewriting the story.

Healing presents a threat to our existing patterning- and this will initially signal chaos in our nervous system. You see, even though we’ve likely become very uncomfortable and sick (literally sometimes) of our existing patterning.. leading us to seek guidance in the first place.. that patterning is where our nervous system has learned to survive. It’s been deemed “normal” at some point, and the compensations that have come with that normal have been keeping up alive and well from our hardware’s perspective.

Our system will fight to maintain this “safe zone” as status quo. If you’ve ever tried to break an addiction, you know this fight is real. If you’ve experienced chronic pain, you will have also experienced this. This often get worse before they get better, because we for all intensive purposes have to reparent and coach our nervous system, our subconscious, into a new reality.. a new story-line.

The tough part surrounding true healing and evolution lies in building a conscious awareness towards recognizing a old pattern, experiencing the discomfort associated with stepping away from it, and then stepping onwards anyway- into a zone of uncertainty at first. A willingness to write our new story, our new version of survival is paramount.

One of my driving passions in my career has been around convincing people that their diagnosis, their pain, their injuries are not something they are chained to. We all have the capacity to recover and write new patterns- but it means stepping away from comfort zones. In many ways the optimistic view on injury, pain, and trauma is that it is a chance to evolve, to renew and to rewrite. Our nervous systems will give us that chance, over and over, until resolution is reached. This is largely the reason that long term medication, temporary pain relief, does not work.

Unfortunately the system we work within is often not in our (or the patient’s) favor. It’s rushed, based on economy over the people it’s supposed to serve, and overworked purely due to the need in today’s society for healing. Most of us have been raised in environments that neglected to teach us how to hear ourselves amidst the noise of the world we exist in. The wounds of our past generations were never given the chance to heal and those scars have been passed down to us, with new context for the modern age. Only now we are beginning to understand from a Western science perspective how interconnected our inner workings are, and how interconnected we all are.

Healing and reworking ourselves and our environments is tough work. It is available to everyone who is willing, and the path is unchartered- waiting for your discovery.

 

Originally posted on my new practice’s website and blog.. check it out at http://www.evokebodymind.ca

The Top 6 Things I’ve Taken from being Self-Employed

We either get success or lessons. If we learn our lessons successfully, we get both.
– Judith Anodea

  1.  People will always be excited about what you’re doing, but this doesn’t mean they will buy what you’re selling. 

    Be grateful for their enthusiasm, and encourage them to help you by simply sharing, spreading the word or attending your free events if they don’t have the means to spend money on your service. Related to points below, those on the outside of your offerings and hard work are not privy to the same way of thinking you are. Friends and family are great support systems, but not always great customers. Avoid being insulted or taking it personally; they can be difficult clients anyway. Moral support is likely more valuable to you than their sales anyway.

  2. The amount you fear money is exactly the amount of power it has over you.

    It, like every other energy resource, is necessary circulation for the system we all live in. Spend and receive with respect for others, save for your plans- but don’t let it define your success or hold you hostage.

  3. Nobody else will get what work means to you and your sixteen hour work day won’t been seen by majority of outsiders looking in

    ..do it for you, not for acknowledgement. When those around you complain that you’re working all the time and don’t have time for them anymore, remind yourself of point #1 and #4.. you are doing this for you, and what you have to offer others- not for external gratification. Others will not understand your whys in the same way, and unless you can stand strong for yourself- you’ll be washed away and burnt out by others fatigue at your definition of success each and every time.

  4. Work life balance means something very different for you than it does to others.

    Develop a working relationship with yourself and know when to reset the scales. Your health and wellbeing are what enable you to provide and grow. End of story. When you are motivated to work and push for growth in your business life- follow that. When you are drawn to you time, personal/family time.. follow that just as hard. You don’t have paid holidays, sick time or overtime- in exchange for this you get to design your own schedule and life.

  5. Boundaries do not equal lack of accessibility..

    They only enhance your availability to offer quality. Refer to #4!

  6. You write the rules, so get used to making the tough calls and evolving.

    What others see as failure, you must see as growth. Evolution will become your middle name and who you are personally will always feed into who you are professionally- this is highlighted when you work for yourself. It’s all on you, so your relationship to yourself feeds how you present yourself and your brand. Professional development = personal development. Get vulnerable, because you’re the one that’s going to have to make those tough calls, have the conversation (with yourself and others) and move forwards.

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Did you believe them when they said you were broken?

One of my driving passions in my career has been around convincing people that their diagnosis, their pain, their injuries are not something they are chained to.
I had to stop counting how many young athletes (usually female) or just people in general come into my clinic and tell me that they were told that they have an issue (usually postural, and not permanent) that was the reason behind their pain- and simultaneously told that their only options were A) pain medication for the symptoms B) ongoing physio treatments (ultrasound, IMS, TENS) that are another form of pain medication.. they literally work the same way in the body.. temporary symptoms relief. And C) that their issue was just a part of who they are, and there wouldn’t be much long term that could be done about it (either this or some form of invasive surgery to change the structure). Aside to this, the majority of my client base is middle aged or older and has been told at some point that their pain is just a part of their life now (usually told this in their earlier years like the first demographic I noted) and that all they could do was find ways to cope. I refuse to accept either of these scenarios as the only truth.
Almost always, if this patient sticks through some of the tough work of mindset and lifestyle change (often small things), I’m able to offer a different path that results in greater performance, self awareness and pain relief.
Now- this isn’t a pitch on why I am a magician at what I do. It’s a statement of concern for the system we have put our faith in. Just because someone tells you you’re broken and cannot be fixed, does not mean you are broken and cannot be fixed.
We need to stop telling people that just because they are a certain way in one moment, they are destined to have that filter on the rest of their lives moving forwards. As humans we are designed and primed for change. When we lose our adaptability and presence in life, that’s generally where pain, anxiety, and other low functioning states arise. Presence in my mind essentially just means showing up with each new day open to whatever arises, stepping away from a rigidly expected reality.
Upwards of 80% of the clients that come in my door tell me they have tried everything and been to everyone, with little to no change in their wellbeing. I’ve come to realize that the difference in what I’m doing has nothing to do with level of technical skill or knowledge.. rather, it’s a joint effort between their willingness (or sometimes desperation) to make a change alongside my intent as a practitioner to work with them on that project. Maybe it’s just the simple fact that everything they’ve previously done before is clicking into place coincidentally as I add my two cents to the picture. It’s more common than not that people walk out of my doors feeling significant change and saying that that’s a first.
I hesitate to speak negatively about other practitioners because I rarely doubt their skill, intelligence or intent. Unfortunately the system we work within is often not in our (or the patient’s) favor. It’s rushed, based on economy over the people it’s supposed to serve, and overworked purely due to the need in today’s society for healing. Most of us have been raised in environments that neglected to teach us how to hear ourselves amidst the noise of the world we exist in. The wounds of our past generations were never given the chance to heal and those scars have been passed down to us, with new context for the modern age. Only now we are beginning to understand from a Western science perspective how interconnected our inner workings are, and how interconnected we all are. Societal traumas are breaking free to get loud, yet the resources needed to help the healing process are either being drowned with the need to serve or lost amongst the growing wellness industry fixated on $$ over individuals.
The point I’m trying to get across here? Take a healthy dose of salt if/when you are told by someone in a perceived position of authority over your health that you have reached the end of a road regarding a diagnosis. Our bodies are amazing at healing, if we set the stage for them. There is next to no reason that any one condition or set of symptoms is a life sentence.

Living at Ease


We live in a culture rife with dis-ease. I think it’s safe to say many of us exist day to day without even considering “ease” as a part of life.

I found myself surrounded this evening by people seemingly living in ease-ful states. After a hike down to the river brought a lovely sunset while sitting on a rock by the river bank, I was surrounded by others enjoying a peaceful Sunday evening. As I drove back to my Airbnb, I was struck (not literally) by couples strolling down the sidewalks, dog walkers ambling along, and kids playing.

A few of the kids playing brought up a memory of what it was like to be a kid- with no notion of schedules or places to be, other than the exact moment one is in.

When do we lose that presence? The ability to simply be, without the pressing urgency of feeling like we should be somewhere, doing something, and we are so very late.

I should preface that these realizations and epiphanies came after a week of profound learning and personal work during a Facilitator training for Integrated Breathwork. This deep training that I am over a year into involves psychosomatic techniques and body centered psycho-therapies that allow one to tap into roots and core experiences that have formed the habits we abide by. I’ve also been blessed with doing this training in one of my favourite places in the world, with the opportunity to escape into the mountains to process each evening- taking some much needed and deserved time to reconnect with myself, away from the distractions of everyday life.

Many of my personal sessions brought themes around boundaries (or lack there of- with a questionable reasoning as to why they were not to be trusted, but nonetheless valid roots related to deep and historic experiencing), my relationships to support (or aversion of- again, logically questionable mechanisms that originated largely to how I felt about boundaries at a core level, and in the end a deep reconnection to a part of myself I haven’t felt in a long time (my connection to my left feminine energy/receptive nature and how worthy she is of a voice and an opinion in collaboration with my right dominant, expressive masculine energy half) – with the realization that I am ready for things to be easy, and that I deserve to live in ease.

I preface with that not to discredit the relativity to all our lives in what I am writing about; rather to highlight the point that realizing the accessibility of ease in our daily lives.

As we experience life we pick up many defense mechanisms that served to protect us from the perceptions around experiences that create what we know as trauma. The layers of these defenses run deep and form the patterning of our lives. They also, more often than not, have a timeframe in which they go from being useful protection mechanisms to long held patterns that bring “dis-ease” into our lives.

Dis-ease can be many things. Often in manifests as pain (emotional or physical), chronic health conditions, sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, ptsd, etc. The stress that pursues trauma in our systems eats away at us even through hardening layers of defense. Depending on the circumstance, imagining an easeful life may seem next to impossible.

It’s a vicious cycle all of us are likely to experience on some level throughout life, if not over and over again in various ways.

In the world we live in, trauma, anxiety, mindfulness, collective support, disease and epidemic are catchwords. It’s not new knowledge that our society is dealing with a lot at the moment, with things not likely to change anytime soon. Yet- from my experience working with individuals and groups on tapping into the wisdom each of us holds inside these bodies we so often forget we exist within, the more we can do to listen and support ourselves- the better the collective experience will become.

Perhaps it starts with a recognition that ease is not so far off as we assume it to be.

If there is one thing I’ve had imprinted on me it’s that no condition or experience is permanent, and alongside that.. no pain point or stress response is unworthy of being given a voice. There is hope for us all as soon as we become curious about what our bodies have to tell us, and what life might look like if we gave ourselves even the smallest chance to heal what once caused pain and scarring.

Where does this start? How do we even begin looking objectively at pains that have created identifying ways of being?

I believe it starts with the inkling that the answers we’ve been given aren’t the end all be all. That there is more, and that maybe if we are aware of just one small crack in the reality we’ve been told is the only option- we can squeeze into a rabbit hole that offers us something more (sometimes requiring we source the bravery to step into said rabbit hole, and persist even when the darkness seems all encompassing..). I can speak to the fact that there is always another obvious step to take, after that first step. I can’t tell you it’s comfortable, or even logical, all the time- yet I can say that the body knows and guides with grace once we open the door and loosen our expectations.

Wherever you are on your journey towards re-discovering ease, thank you.

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Why You Can’t Escape Your Pain

We all know the value of communication. We’re taught it on some level from the day we’re old enough to consciously communicate verbally all the way through school and in early job positions. Some of us excel at different forms of communication (verbal, written, creative expression, whatever)- and some of us struggle to effectively communicate for various reasons.. but in the end, still appreciate when communication is effective and open.
Quality communication creates a pathway forwards in any situation, and I think all of us can say that we’ve been in situations where either the communication tactics saved the day, or the lack there of made what should have been a simply solved problem into a Everest sized issue.
In our exterior world.. all this is common sense. So why do we continuously shut down and condemn the communications we all receive, moment to moment, within our own physical bodies?
Pain has gotten a bad rap somewhere along the lines. At one point we stopped respecting the message it had for us, and began muting it in desperation. Was this because the collective pain (emotional, physical, etc) became so overwhelming that we developed all these quick methods to “take it away”?
Pain, at it’s core, is a reaction to a perceived threat. It will have personal biases related to emotional/mental stress, as well as physical stress unique to each individual. Pain perception is almost impossible to measure from person to person, and tolerance will be equally as unique.
We’ve been taught to fear and dread pain as a society. Which, when you put pain under the frame of communication seems counterintuitive to the good practices a mature individual aims to adhere to in modern day operations.
As an experiment.. imagine a common pain for you as another human being, sitting across a table from you. This other person, who is an integral part of your operational team in life, called a meeting with you. Fairly calmly they begin to relay to you an important message (lets say from your lower spine). They calmly state that the amount that you’ve been sitting, combined with the increasing amount of caffeine you’ve been intaking are causing increased immobility combined with heightened nervous system stimulus in a vulnerable area. They are speaking in an inside voice, with a even tempered demeanor.
You respond by pretending they aren’t there.
They begin increasing the urgency in their voice, just as anyone would having recognized that you obviously aren’t hearing their message.
You, again, respond by shushing them and then resume playing ignorant to their presence.
This causes them to have to begin yelling, maybe using exaggerated gestures, in an attempt to get your attention.
This increase in intensity on their part elicits a more dramatic response from you.. you now put ear plugs in and attempt to change tables. Eventually maybe you attempt to remove them from the equation, putting duct tape over their mouth in an attempt to hush them and having some goons remove them from your vicinity.
Now.. this might seem like a dramatic way to handle a interaction.. however, I think we can all relate to at least once or twice where we put the ear plugs in regarding our pain (via the use of medications, pushing through, the endless search of quick fix/relief vs understanding).
As a therapist I routinely meet people who are so completely disconnected from their bodies that pain (or any discomfort for the matter) is something to be avoided at all costs. Yet, at the same time – they have an attachment to their suffering so strong it has become a part of their identity.
This stems from our nervous system. Our nervous system is primed for our survival. Which means whatever pattern it takes on to survive, it will protect at all costs. It’s not too far fetched to say that at a certain point, especially in cases of chronic pain, the nervous system will actually make it more uncomfortable for us to move into a new way of living life (even if this new way is pain free) out of a perceived need to protect our set patterning.
Yes, you read that right. Your nervous system and brain will push to keep you in pain because pain has become your normal.
Which means- in order to begin shifting how pain/messages from the body are received, we need to develop a strong awareness for what our nervous system is saying to us before moving forwards. If we have good communication with ourselves, that phase of perceived increase discomfort becomes an integral part of the process instead of a fear ridden, panic inducing, run away type moment for our bodies and minds. We are much more likely to continue moving forwards if we are able to communicate effectively with our bodies and minds in this case with that budding self awareness.
I have come to think of healing as another term for getting to know ourselves. True healing requires us to look within to listen, feel, and acknowledge what is truly causing our bodies and minds to call to us. The uprising of research in Epigenetics is now confirming that much of our pain (emotional, physical, and spiritual) has been passed down from generations before- and with this in mind, it can be valuable to first look within but also to look at what your predecessors were dealing with. Our genetic histories (how our ancestors struggled, what they were dealing with physically, emotionally, and spiritually, etc) can often provide us a map as to why certain pains or ways of experiencing life have been so steadfast in our lives. This means what has been passed down to us not only has biological inputs and can make us more prone to certain diseases, it also effects us in terms of mental/emotional processing, psychosomatic body memories and sensations, and patterns that control (or guide, depending on how you look at it) our perception of existence.
Most of us, unfortunately, have been raised in a society that is extremely disconnected from the body and mind. Which means we are having to relearn something that should be second nature (or our entire nature) later in life. We know the power of those gut feelings that often guide us in moments of questioning, and we’ve all second guessed or ignored those gut instincts at one time or another- usually to regret it later. That’s where developing that internal listening/observing ability begins. To build awareness we need to have the patience to be with ourselves, through good and bad, to listen, observe, and FEEL it all. The spidey senses will become more attuned from there. Then that pain becomes less of a nag, and more of a nudge along the path. Our perception of discomfort changes, slowly but surely, until we are able to make a change in collaboration with our bodies instead of warring with ourselves in a state of fear and repression. The image of us developing a relationship to a child version of ourselves comes to mind.. where it can be amazingly insightful to communicate with yourself as you would communicate with a small child. This may in itself elicit some areas where your self-communication could be improved.
It takes practice. It takes dedication. However, the benefits far outweigh the cost, in my opinion. We will not gain the ability to truly feel content in our bodies until we have the ability to feel (and stick with) discomfort in our bodies. You cannot look in the mirror and feel love for yourself until you’ve also loved the painful, uncomfortable, unexpected, and often dark parts. You will struggle to adhere to the necessary exercises, lifestyle changes, and inner shifts that await until you turn inwards to listen and respond. Its all our nothing when it comes to our health; especially since our human existence is one that is ever changing. Moment to moment we will experience different things on the spectrum of wellness, and it is our job to be able to fully experience it all. Escaping ourselves is not serving anyone. We can see examples of this in how desperate our global situations are getting in terms of healthcare, and what this is indicating for our economy and society’s wellbeing as a whole.
The cure starts with you. Healing means stepping away from our search for a cure all, and stepping towards truly experiencing ourselves. The journey through healing, through pain, through all emotions is what will heal us, not something that takes the pain away.

Shedding

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do –
determined to save
the only life you could save.

– Mary Oliver, The Journey.

I’ve sat down numerous times over the winter to attempt to put into words what existence feels like lately. Every time I do sit down, I find it almost impossible to depict sensations with words. More than that, I do not feel inspired to attempt that description- as somethings just get lost when we begin to translate.

It feels lately as if I am shedding off layers of myself that no longer fit. Day by day, sometimes hour by hour, I find that things I used to define myself by are no longer suitable for me to even hear about. Things I used to be driven towards no longer fit where I am drawn towards on my journey. Yet, I can see clearly (as clearly as one ever can) where the previous motivations came from and a reconciliation process with myself seems to be taking place.

Reconciliation is an interesting term to use when writing about one’s own journey. It implies previous conflict. Much of the last year and a bit for me was knowingly or unknowingly spent in inner conflict. Looking back in hindsight much of this conflict came from a source of martyrdom of myself towards mostly inner causes I created to soothe the same conflict. A vicious cycle that was more of a bandaid than a foundational correction.

The conflict started with a brooding over my professional career. I felt trapped in an industry that was only scraping the surface of people’s healing needs, and a deep desire to do more but not quite knowing where to turn. I became frustrated by those seeking my services to be used as a bandaid for the deeper rooted issues they were dealing with (mentally, emotionally, and physically) but out of a need for survival I felt I had no other option but to continue treating them- all while hoping that the 1% of clients I had come to me wanting to dive deeper would keep growing in numbers and frequency.

This conflict lead to burn out, and in an attempt to bandaid burn out I decided to stop taking more clients and focus more on management and business development. Believing, I think, that if I built it better, I could help more people. My hands deteriorated and I physically felt incapable of helping others heal with my hands, and my heart and mind was exhausted by continuing to outpour energy into healing others. Turning my path towards management felt like a way to rehab my ability to heal, while still serving others.

In management I saw more cracks in the system my profession existed in and began to crave an out from all of it- yet the pull to serve those working in my business and be boss lady extraordinaire kept me in survival mode, bringing me to another burn out point.

Somewhere along this path I realized that I had built a living, breathing replica of a business to fill a void left by hurts in my past. I saw that I had created a toxic relationship with my business and in my attempts to give all I had to that creation I had lost myself almost entirely. I had no answer to who I was without the business, and that fear hit me to the core.

The fear stemmed from a realization that I wanted to be more than a worker bee in a system that wasn’t serving myself or others in the slightest. The quotes “if you want to change the system, you can’t abide by the system” and “be the change” rang in my ears.

I began making conscious shifts towards the purpose driven work I idealized, and the lifestyle that felt more aligned. As I became conscious of how possible the way I truly wanted to be living was- these shifts became less and less optional. Things shifted, often more suddenly than I expected. I entered many states of transformation- metamorphosis became the metaphor for my existence. In many instances it felt as odd and isolating as the self-digestion a caterpillar must go through in order to become it’s next state.

Interesting things happen when you become self-aware during this phase.

Relationships change. You notice your resistance to things, for better or worse. Guilt, fear, unworthiness, conditions placed on love that you’ve lived with for years are brought to the surface, and releasing it brings up questions as to why you’ve been so comfortable framing it as servitude or “what I deserve”, companionship, “what it takes”, ambition, and endless need for achievement for this long. Discomfort and pain, whether physical or otherwise, becomes similar to the part of a nature hike you have to trek through in order to get to the good views. It becomes relative, and necessary, to your transformation.

The biggest thing I have noticed during this process is that I have become my own non-negotiable.

My business model changed as a result of this. The way in which I was choosing to carry all the burdens of the entity that I’d built, and carry other’s slack as well, shifted as my desire to support myself shifted. In turn I got to see who among the team I had built was there to support the overall vision wholly, not just along for the ride.

The scary thing here was/is the change in my personal investment into what once received 110% of my attention and energy. As my relationship towards my creation changed dramatically over the year I saw the same patterns that had once kept me in a toxic romantic relationship play out in my leadership style and in how I built my career.

Even typing this today, as some of the changes I’ve made to my business operations take effect and I see the rubble beginning to form into a much healthier foundation I sit in a place of vast unknown. I have shed more than a few skins over the past months, and have yet to completely fill my new one with understanding. While my connection to self has been revitalized in ways I’d never imagined, I feel as though I am shedding yet another version.

Change for us humans is inherently difficult. Creating or moving towards something different than what we’ve known breeds a new kind of fear and insecurity in our system. I see this daily with clients dealing with pain, lifestyle habits, and dysfunction in their lives.

Fear and insecurity keep us believing that our survival needs and comfort will disappear if we make the change that we are being called to make (or need to make). The idea of things being different (even if for the better) equals the risk of losing what you have (even if what you have no longer serves) and this, to us at a biological level, becomes a very unsafe perception of reality. It if feels unsafe, even our bodies will revolt. We are primed for survival, always, and this will tell us that any change is dangerous at a primal level. This creates the turmoil of our human consciousness.

When a snake sheds it’s skin, it’s eyes appear to cloud over as the skin sheds to make it look as though it is in a trance. This is how I’ve felt over the last few months. Entranced by transition, a reconciliation of the past into fertilizer for the future while rooting into the present moment. Somehow I don’t believe that a snake experiences anxiety and fear as it sheds to become anew. I also don’t believe that a caterpillar sees any other option than to move through it’s metamorphosis and into it’s next version.

My style of practice with my clients has become alike to the attitude I take with myself lately. The only way out is through. Our choice, if we are going to move forwards, has to be to breathe and step onwards- even if it feels like we are falling into the unknown. It is easy to be doubtful in times of growth. What could be our strength can easily become our insecurity if we aren’t aware. Trust in the process and know that your eyes will be cleared of transition soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ch 2018: Metamorphosis

This year could be a full book, to be honest.

When I think back to the decade that was 2018, the image of a specific tarot card comes to mind.

The four of swords; with the lamb sitting calmly underneath the threatening points- it implies an attitude of mental stillness and mindfulness amongst oncoming potential threats. It demonstrates a process of integration, allowing the process to occur from a place of internal stillness. Four is a number that symbolizes structure and stability, and the illumination at the lamb’s forehead implies concentration and inward focus. This image shows the power to be found in monitoring your internal landscape, vs letting thoughts and attitudes run amuck.

My last few posts have been rife with words of transformation, faith, and process. I’ve spent countless time this year roaming into different versions of self, different places, and bringing all sorts of new into my life while examining (and more often then not, shedding) the old.

I began the year feeling pulled west. I found many excuses to roam there, and spent a portion of almost every month in Alberta. Alongside this I stumbled into my first few experiences with conscious connected breathwork which in many ways cracked open a door (perhaps the analogy of a rabbit hole is more suited here) to a path I could not have seen coming. That is often how life works though, no? You wander along and then eventually glance back at where you came from and think.. “how did any of that lead me to here?”.

My alice in wonderland-esque year flipped my focus inwards very quickly. If you’ve been reading along the way, you’ll have read many a story about burn out. Through a combination of the breathwork I was introduced with, and subsequently began my facilitator training in, journeys west and renewing connections close to my soul (in the form of people (new and existing), relationships (new and existing), career moves, and time spent digging deep), I built a tool box around the obstacles and challenges that came up throughout the year.

There were three key themes and lessons for me this year (there were so many more, but today is not the day I write my novel..):

1. TRUST (even when you are more full of doubt then ever before)

Let’s be real clear. I took so many leaps of faith off so many cliffs this year. I chose to launch RideWell Performance (a rebrand of an existing equestrian focused branch of IM) early in the year and in a spontaneous Alberta inspired decision chose to take it to Spruce Meadows and set a goal of building a client base outside of my home province. Then I chose to expand Integrative Movement in about four different directions pretty much simultaneously. I did all this with no guarantee of financing or income, an existing pile of debt, at the same time I was taking a big step back from taking on more clients myself (read: burning the f out).

While this was going on, in my personal side of life, I began to notice drastic transitions in core relationships with myself and others in my life. At one (many) point(s) I felt completely alienated from many in my life, and found myself developing very new support systems for myself throughout the year. In a big, BIG way.. 2018 was all about developing ways to support myself. Internally, most definitely. There were many periods during this year that external support in the form of finances, stereotypical realms of security, health, and perceived peer support (*I ALWAYS have phenomenal people holding me up, but there were times where my perception was telling me otherwise) were not there. I was left to my own devices support wise (perception-ally, anyway).. and in a big way had to rely on the faith and trust I had that I was moving in the right direction.

As I moved through the summer I hit many month ends where every single thing was questioned. Why was I so insistent on making these business moves? Why was I being so stubborn? What was I running from..to? Where was I going? Was I making the right moves? Are there right moves? What if this all gets worse? Can it get worse? Will I make rent this month? Am I racking up too much debt for no reason? Do I even want to be a business owner? Why why why..

As I came into the last quarter of the year, many of those questions were answered. I realized that the way I had been existing for many years in survival mode was a consequence of how many of us had been raised to think. Success = financial security. Financial security = steady income, paying bills, etc etc. Not having a regular pay cheque, taking relative risks by investing in self and in business = super effing scary and unorthodox. Do you know what else I realized? It was ALL OKAY. The months of barely (or not quite) having enough to pay my rent, scrounging to make things work financially within the business due to stalled invoice payments (cue rant about insurance companies payment systems and the health care system in general) TAUGHT ME how to manage my money (whether flowing or not). As I rolled into fall and cash flow got a bit more flowey business wise I all of a sudden had all these new ways of organizing and planning. The things I once feared (like, legit gave me MAJOR anxiety) like budgeting, saving, looking at my balances routinely, making payments, etc etc got SO scary and stressful during a few months that I had literally no choice but to face my fears head on and figure out a system that was going to work when the going was thin. As the going got more going, all of a sudden the systems were creating a much less anxiety inducing experience. Survival mode taught me how to thrive. The key in this was trusting that another day was coming, and believing in what I was doing.

The thing about starting and running a business is that it WILL shine a light on all of your inner workings. It will ask you WHY you’re investing. You will be tested on your faith and your values multiple times a day in so many ways. It won’t be until small moments when you least expect it that you’re reminded and humbled by the beauty and purpose behind what you’re doing. You won’t be able to predict these moments, and they will knock you down in the best way possible. I’ve seen more of these moments this year, as rough as the waves hit, then ever before. It just takes a second for faith to win over doubt, and CHOOSING to live in a state of abundance vs a state of lack (or in a scarcity mindset) not only brings more of these moments into your awareness, it drives you onwards in hope (not in fear). 

Trusting, experiencing gratitude, and not getting lost in a moment of doubt (aka not turning a moment of doubt into days or months of doubt). Then, having the patience for a planted seed to sprout and grow. Rome really was not built in a day, you guys, I can attest to this! 

Trust also came up for me personally as I moved in and out of my own identity journey. I learned to trust in my gut and intuition when it told me to find nature, when it asked me to breathe, when it guided me to move. These things above anything else saved me from the crushing fears and anxieties that I was was facing in my professional life. I remember at one point physically, mentally and emotionally being so worn down by my professional life. My hands were in agony 24/7, I would feel the urge to vomit whenever a client, staff, or peer mentioned anything to do with my business (good or bad), and I had anxiety I’d never noticed before. By listening and trusting my bodies messages and stepping into myself (and out of parts of myself).. I gained invaluable insight and revived my direction professionally (and personally). I figured out a new way to support myself. Unconditionally. 

Not only do you need to TRUST in yourself (even when you don’t have answers.. trusting that you WILL move forwards or at the very least turn inwards to listen and recover), you also need to trust in the process and have patience for the process. We always get what we need.. leading to my next theme..

2. LISTEN (and FLOW)

I spent many hours in my car this year. Driving to and from Alberta, and all around each province visiting clients and exploring. Majority of this time was with myself.

The conversations, epiphanies, and places I found within myself on these #soloroadtripadventures built up my ability to listen, and flow in a whole new way.

I noticed it usually took me about 4-6hrs of a long drive to drop into a quiet state of being. This provided excellent contrast to the chaos I was existing in on a daily basis. Here’s thing thing I noticed… though I never considered myself a person who had anxiety, was stressed on a regular basis, or carried undue tension in my body.. in these moments on contrast and time spent with myself, I realized (in a very loud HOLY SHIT) moment, how MUCH anxiety and stress were under the surface. They stayed unnoticeable to me because they were a baseline state. They had become my NORMAL.

Upon this realization I was catapulted down an even deeper rabbit hole. Once I became aware of one little bit of stress and anxiety in my system, I was smacked over the head with HOW MUCH was actually stuck in there. It made me question everything. If there was this much stuck and I was only just beginning my professional life.. what was I going to be like in 3, 5, 10 years? I already felt sick, and imagining the future outlooks? Not good. This contrast also brought me to the realization that I didn’t want my professional life to be my entire life.

Shocking. I know.

From there I had to go down the rabbit hole of.. if you don’t want this to take up all your time, what ELSE do you want to do with your adult life? Oh boy. We had some major re-organizing to do.

And here is about where I began to realize that I was indeed a person who experienced stress and anxiety, and in listening to them more closely- I had all the answers I needed.

Hindsight is of course 20/20 and now I am seeing that all the seeds I planted along the year(s) are beginning to poke out of the dark earth.

As I listened I heard a new version of me whispering. Then speaking directly. Things needed upgrading to serve new me. Things like my communication style, how I express my feelings, and how I relate to those around me. This also included my relationship with the reception of unconditional love, which was a lovely little theme through the year. I had wrapped positives around conditions in so many aspects of how I received it was making it more stressful to receive anything supportive in all areas of life. In order to support myself and receive support from others – a total rewiring of my attitude in this department was necessary. We all need a little revamp once in a while! Here lies the value of listening and allowing your inner flow to guide you!

3. STRUCTURE = FREEDOM (discipline does not have to mean boring, anxiety inducing existence…what?!)

In re-dedicating myself to a regular yoga/meditation/breathwork practice I not only began to trust everything (especially myself) again, I also built a structure into my life that has resulted in freedom.

The level of extreme burn out I hit at the end of September, the experiences and guidance I received in my first facilitator training intensive at the end of September (could not have been better timing) led me to a complete restructure (or maybe just the first conscious structure) of my schedule.

Because of the realizations around the amount of anxiety and stress I inherently experience, some healthy routines needed to be established. And you know what? The more I TRUSTED these new habits, the more they worked. All of a sudden I found myself with spare time (HOURS), getting more accomplished, and a much stronger attitude of gratitude.

Routines/Structure/Discipline.. these things usually made me feel anxious and claustrophobic. Now they simply allow me to be me, to listen, to sit and watch and experience immense gratitude for all the things happening in my days.

It so easy to skip over the little good things in life and see only the hardships, “bad” things, and the tough things. How many of us walk around expecting something to go wrong, complaining about other people, and feeling in a state of lack (of energy, money, time, ability, whatever)? I’ve experienced moments this year where all the things that could be lacking were lacking, and yet- in these moments I’ve also seen and experienced some of the most heart warming and humbling things. What we HAVE does not need to determine our experience, and our experience is entirely created on how we CHOOSE to view things.

Simple thing. Removing the word BUT from all communication (written and verbal). Replacing it with AND.

Another simple thing. Spending 2-10min each day sitting in thought around things you are grateful for. Big or small. All of a sudden you’ll start noticing MORE in your life, instead of LESS.

I trust and listen to my inner voice now, and know that sometimes time is better spent hibernating, resting, or taking some time to myself over trying to push through and be productive. When we utilize time that is meant to be spent in recovery mode, we are way more capable of utilizing and structuring times when we are productive. Work smarter, not harder applies.

I also learned that by having structures (like prioritizing pre-scheduled yoga 4-6 times/week, personal training sessions, riding time, self care (acupuncture, massage/bodywork), meditation/breathwork and therapy check ins in my schedule over work requirements and client requirements) in place I was much more equipped to handle bad days/weeks. By sticking to these structure and treating myself with integrity and respect- I didn’t lose any productivity by having “bad” days. Those bad days were reframed into days where I needed to check out in order to be more productive at a different time.

Listening to ME and all my inner workings taught me about who I am. It allowed me to structure around who I would like to progress TOWARDS, while still remaining open to whoever she is. Structure allows for freedom to evolve, it isn’t a dictatorship scenario. It supports process, instead of clouding process.

For all the times I wasn’t sure I was going to make it this year, I did. I also gained insight into the power found in accepting each moment without restriction.

I am ending the year absolutely full of gratitude and amazement at the journey that’s unfolded. I’ve seen things I could never have even wondered about, and have been opened to whole new worlds and opportunities- just by being intentionally open to the process.

Fav authors this year? Paulo Coehlo (everything by him, for real), Clarissa Pinkola Estes (Women Who Run With Wolves), and Bill Plotkin (SoulCraft).

I will leave you, and 2018, with a poem I read in the wilderness. It happened upon me in a moment of pure gratitude for the cocoon I had found myself in, and the person I was becoming- in the world we currently live in. I hope gratitude finds you all in this new year!

The Wolf’s Eyelash

If you don’t go out in the woods, nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.

“Don’t go out in the woods, don’t go out,” they said.

“Why not?  Why should I not go out in the woods tonight?” she asked.

“A big wolf lives there who eats humans such as you.  Don’t go out in the woods, don’t go out.  We mean it.”

Naturally, she went out.  She went out in the woods anyway, and of course she met the wolf, just as they had warned her.

“See, we told you,” they crowed.

“This is my life, not a fairy tale, you dolts,” she said.  “I have to go to the woods, and I have to meet the wolf, or else my life will never begin.”

But, the wolf she encountered was in a trap, in a trap this wolf’s leg was in.

“Help me, oh help me! Aieeeee, aieeee, aieeee!” cried the wolf.  “Help me, oh help me!” he cried, “and I shall reward you justly.” For this is the way of wolves in tales of this kind.

“How do I know you won’t harm me?” she asked – it was her job to ask questions.  “How do I know you will not kill me and leave me lying in my bones?”

“Wrong question,” said this wolf.  “You’ll just have to take my word for it.”  And the wolf began to cry and wail once again and more.  “Oh, aieee!  Aieeee!  Aieeee!  There’s only one question worth asking fair maiden, wooooooooor aieeeee th’ sooooooool?”

“Oh you wolf, I will take a chance.  Alright, here!”  And she sprang the trap and the wolf drew out its paw and this she bound with herbs and grasses.

“Ah, thank you kind maiden, thank you,” sighed the wolf.  And because she had read too many of the wrong kind of tales, she cried, “Go ahead and kill me now, and let us get this over with.”

But no, this did not come to pass.  Instead this wolf put his paw upon her arm.  “I’m a wolf from another time and place,”  said he.  And plucking a lash from his eye, gave it to her and said, “Use this, and be wise.  From now on you will know who is good and not so good; just look through my eyes and you will see clearly.  For letting me live, I bid you live in a manner as never before.  Remember, there’s only one question worth asking fair maiden, wooooooooor aieeeee th’ soooooooool?”

And so she went back to her village, happy to still have her life.  And this time as they said, “Just stay here and be my bride,” or “Do as I tell you,”  or “Say as I want you to say, and remain as unwritten upon as the day you came,” she held up the wolf’s eyelash and peered through and saw their motives as she had not seen them before.  And the next time the butcher weighed the meat she looked through her wolf’s eyelash and saw that he weighed his thumb too.  And she looked at her suitor who said “I am so good for you,” and saw that her suitor was so good for exactly nothing.  And in this way and more, she was saved, from not all, but from many, misfortunes.

But more so, in this new seeing, not only did she see the sly and cruel, she began to grow immense in heart, for she looked at each person and weighed them anew through this gift from the wolf she had rescued.  And she saw those who were truly kind and went near to them, she found her mate and stayed all the days of her life, she discerned the brave and came close to them, she apprehended the faithful and joined with them, she saw bewilderment under anger and hastened to soothe it, she saw love in the eyes of the shy and reached out to them, she saw suffering in the stiff-lipped and courted their laughter, she saw need in the man with no words and spoke for him, she saw faith deep in the woman who said she had none, and rekindled hers from her own.  She saw all things with her lash of wolf, all things true, and all things false, all things turning against life and all things turning toward life, all things seen only through the eyes of that which weighs the heart with heart, and not with mind alone.

This is how she learned that it is true what they say, that the wolf is the wisest of all.  If you listen closely, the wolf in its howling is always asking the most important question – not where is the next food, not where is the next fight, not where is the next dance? – but the most important question in order to see into and behind, to weigh the value of all that lives, woooooooor aieeeee th’ sooooooool?  wooooooooor aieeeee th’ soooooooool?  Where is the soul?  Where is the soul?

Go out in the woods, go out.  If you don’t go out in the woods, nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.  Go out in the woods, go out.  Go out in the woods, go out.  Go out in the woods, go out.

(Estes, Ph.D.,  Clarissa Pinkola.  Women Who Run With the Wolves:  Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype. New York:  Ballantine, 1992.  Print.)