August 20, 2017
I am sharing here a post I put on my personal Facebook page. It is a very short version of an experience I had last night. It touched me in a way that is difficult to put into words, but I felt I needed to try! Life is amazing. Life is difficult. Life is...
Here is the post...
Months ago I decided to subscribe to the three plays at the Terris Theater in Chester (Godspeed Theater.) The play Darling Grenadine caught my interest as a NEW musical with a bit of romance in it...and a dog.
Walked into the Theater last night and immediately saw a young woman I knew I knew as a former student of mine. I walked up to her and saw her name tag (she worked there) and it said "Molly." I confirmed she went to Mercy and I told her I was her religion teacher at one point. Mind you, I look very different now as I wear glasses and have short hair. When I said my name her face got this OMG look and she hugged me and said "I can't believe it's you!" She went on to tell me the impact my class had on her and how my use of Feminine pronouns and Names for God is something she never forgot! Her boyfriend of 6 years was with her and he confirmed that it was something she talks about quite often! Then...a young woman standing by overheard us and said to me "You taught at Mercy?? Then you must know my mom's friend Sr. Patty!" Um YEAH!!!! I sure do! Turns out she was the daughter of a friend of mine from college! All of this was quite emotional and THEN I went in to watch the show.
The show was amazing and although I don't want to spoil it for anyone...the dog in the show is a Lab, the main character struggles with alcoholism, the dog has to be "put down" (I am not fond of that phrase)and needless to say I was a blubbering mess through the entire thing!!!! It was NO accident that I was there last night. God (Universe) knew months ago that I needed to be there on that night, with those people, for that show. God knew what would be happening in the months between my purchasing the tickets and attending the show. Amazing.
It was an incredible evening. Emotional, reassuring, emotional, affirming, emotional...you get the picture. I am blessed. I know that. And God has my back and is in total control. My favorite mantra for meditation these days has been..
Relax. I am here. You are safe. All is well.
NOTE: Alcoholism (Substance addiction) is not something I personally struggle with but have been affected by in many ways throughout my life. Watching the person in the play struggle hit home in so many ways as many people I love have strugled and continue to struggle...including some of my clients.
August 9, 2017
As summer begins to come to a close, I am reflecting on a life changing event that took place for me in July. My beloved Moose left his physical body behind and is free from any pain, suffering, or limitation. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever experienced and I continue to grieve every day.
My clients know that I will often use the phrase "comparison is the number one killer of compassion" and I mean it. So, I will not compare my grief to another's grief after losing a person because in most people's eyes, I will "lose" in that comparison. The loss of a pet is different. The presence of a pet is different. What they represent and the gaps that they fill...it's different. In some ways, the every day awareness is harder than when I have lost friends or family members I didn't see often. My standard phrase lately as people ask me about my grief is "He is everywhere...and no where at the same time." It's true. There are reminders of him everwhere. His hairs (I don't think the house will ever truly be rid of dog hair and I am good with that!), the toys, his dishes, his collar, his bed, his leash...the list goes on and on. His favorite places to lay, the sounds he made, the way he smelled (good and bad!)...those are still everywhere in the house and certainly in my mind. They are fading though...and at times that scares me. I expect to see him greet me when I get up in the morning and when I come home from work. I expect him to barge into the bathroom as he always did just to make sure I was still there! I expect him to beg for my food and I have to tell you that I struggle every day with eating the last bite of anything. My last bite was always for him. This is incredibly difficult.
My husband has heard me say hundreds of times already "I just miss him" and he gets it. He misses him too. Not in the same way I do...but in his own way. Moose was a presence. He was definitely unconditional love. He was funny and silly and although he was never a cuddly dog...he had the sweetest face ever. His eyes were truly a window into his soul and I would often stare into them at length.
Before Moose died I wanted to memorize everything about him. I would stare at him and notice the little tufts of fur that stuck up on top of his head. I would rub the pads on his feet and notice where the rough patches were. He had a lot of cysts and I would often hold them by cupping my hands over them and pray that they were not hurting him and that if they were that they would shrink. I rubbed his ears all the time. I loved his ears. My husband used to joke that he was going to save his ears so we could forever pet them...but I quickly declined that offer! I didn't want a "part" of Moose...I wanted all of Moose.
As we headed on vacation a week after Moose died, I took my grief with me. Our vacation spot was chosen with Moose in mind and for the past six years he enjoyed out trips tremendously. All the "firsts" on vacation without him were tough. There were lots of tears by all of us. And then...there were the signs!
Over and over we had signs of his presence with us. We would see him in the clouds (sometimes so clear it was uncanny!) We would have butterflies hang out with us and one day a hummingbird just hovered right next to us as if to remind us "he is here!" We laughed about him, cried over his absence, and shared so much gratitude for all he added to our lives.
Why do I share all of this? Because I think it's important for people to know that everything I say to my clients, especially in this case my grief clients, I say to myself! Grief is a process and it is different for each of us. It doesn't matter what or whom we have lost...it's a process. The waves of emotion vary from feeling a bit misty eyed to crying from our gutt with ugly sounds, inability to breathe, pain in the abdomen, and a feeling like you might die yourself. Yes, I truly felt each of those things.
I talked to Moose a lot that first week. I asked him to help me through this. I told him I didn't know how to do this life thing without him. I'm not ashamed to admit at one point I actually curled up in a ball in his bed and just cried. My heart was, and is, broken.
I continue to grieve for Moose and I have to say it is getting a bit easier. The tears still come just about every time I pull into the driveway. I look at pictures and I cry. I continue to say "I just miss him" many, many times during the day. AND...at the same time...I do my work. What kind of work...my grief work. I remind myself that love comes at a cost and it is so worth that cost. We love hard...we grieve hard. I remind myself that this pain is horrible...and it is only horrible because the love was so great! I also remind myself that the emotions come in waves and the waves will pass. No one has ever cried forever. The tears will stop...temporarily...but they will stop. So, I feel the pain, I acknowledge it, I label it (missing Moose), and I know it will pass. I focus on whatever helps me in the moment, and then as the tears slow, I release them. I even thank them for reminding me of the special love I shared with him.
This process is something I truly believe in. It is what I share with my clients daily. Just becuase I am a therapist who helps others through their grief...that does not in any way mean that I don't grieve! I certainly do...just like I struggle with many other issues that my clients struggle with as well. Therapists are people who sometimes need help and we reach out to our own therapists or colleagues who might fill that role from time to time and do our own work.
My loss has inspired me in many ways. I hope to include all of this in my book and I also hope to use my experience to help others going forward. I am happy to help anyone facing the loss of a pet and can share what helped me as I approached the loss myself. We had scheduled a date to release Moose from his body, but he had a different plan. He decided the day before that was going to be the day. I truly think he wanted to spare us from all those "lasts" we would have experienced that Monday. We enjoyed our walk on that Sunday not knowing it would be our last. I think he wanted it that way. I also had a photographer coming to the house Monday to shoot a few pictures of us with Moose in the backyard before he died. He hated having his picture taken. I should have known that but my fear of not having enough pictures and really wanting to freeze that picture of our "complete" family took me over. The picture didn't happen the way I expected it to. It happened in my mind and in my heart. I think he wanted it that way.
I feel my heart broke that day and it won't quite be the same ever again. Scar tissue will form over our broken hearts, but they may never feel quite the same. I remember hearing or reading something about grief and a wise person was talking with a grieving person. The grieving person said "I just don't know what to do with all this grief!" The wise person suggested they reframe that and see it another way. The grief is a result of Love that has no where to go. Love that was once directed at this person or animal and now the abundance of love has no where to go and that hurts. (Think of a mother whose breasts are ready to feed her new born...but her new born died. The milk is there...her body is ready to provide...but there is no one to receive the abundance. That hurts.) So, this wise person suggested the grieving person change the statement to "I don't know what to do with all this Love!" And then...find somewhere to direct that love. It doesn't replace what or whom we have lost...that's not the intent. It just gives us another way to experience love...in the giving and in the receiving. I will love again. I will likely have another dog and will love that dog up just like I loved Moose up. No dog will ever replace Moose. Of course, my heart may be a bit hesitant to love again as it now knows when you love hard you hurt hard. But...the cost is so worth it. I will carry on. I will love again.
Thanks Moose. You were the best dog ever. I love you and can only hope and believe that you are with me every minute of every day now. I run like you and I used to run together because the past few years you couldn't do it. I imagine you with me enjoying the run (and the bonus is I don't have to stop for you to sniff or pee!) You will help me be open to the next dog that will "find" me. I know you will. Thanks fella. You are the best.
p.s. I just proof read this and can barely read through my tears. Grief is real. Emotions happen. And that's okay.
June 15, 2017
Summertime! It seems that Summer has arrived! Facebook is filled with pictures of parents, students, and teachers all celebrating the fact that the school year has ended and summer has begun! My grand niece declared after her last day of Kindergarten that she wishes Summertime break would last only two days! She loves school and was happy to have a weekend...but would like to go back to school on Monday! Gotta love Kindergarten! I'm not sure students of every age would agree with her...but I understand where she is coming from!
When I was teaching, even though I loved my job, I was very excited when Summer break came! I realize now that I love teaching, I just don't love the detailed work that comes with it! I very much dislike grading papers and tests and making out report cards, etc. I love TEACHING! Perhaps that is one of the reasons why I love my job now. I still find as a Therapist that I "teach" either by experience, or by teaching a new skill, a new model, a new concept, a new practice...and I don't have to "grade" the client on how well they did or are doing! I support them, encourage them, assist them...but no grading! It's refreshing!
Sometimes clients come in to their session and will report that they "failed" during the week. That always breaks my heart and I try to meet them where they are with that feeling of failure and help them to reframe it and see it as a stepping stone filled with possibilities. I believe it was Edison who when someone commented that he "failed" thousands of times while attempting to invent the electric lightbulb...he commented that he did not fail...he succeeded in discovering how NOT to make a lightbulb! Now that is an awesome reframing! So much of what we do and how we process it has to do with our own mindset. We have to power to change and shift the way we see things and that can make all the difference in the world! Sometimes we get hung up on succes and failure and it's so important for us to be aware of what we are using for a "measuring stick" when we do that!
Many of you know that I have wanted to launch groups for quite some time. I have allowed myself to get hung up on the details and that has stopped me in my tracks! I could see that as a failure, but that wouldn't do me any good. I am working to recognize what gets in my way and what I can do to work through that. I have so many great ideas and now it's just a matter of marketing and getting the world our. Summertime can be a great time for a group, and it can be a difficult time (due to vacation schedules, etc.) After being inspired by the "Running into Stillness" mindful running retreat I recently attended at Copper Beech Institute, I was reminded of how much I enjoy group meditation. So, I have decided to offer an introductory group this summer to introduce folks to the gift of meditation and affirmations. I am currently determining which evening(s) will work best and will offer a variety of different types of meditation from guided meditations, mantra work, image and color work, as well as silence. We may use a bit of journaling as part of the process as well. Too many people say "I have tried meditation and it didn't work for me" or "I can't do it" or "I am terrible at meditation" and those statements make me so sad! You can't fail at meditation! If you believe that meditaiton is the act of "emptying" your mind...we need to shift that understanding! Once you truly understand what meditation and mindfulness are all about...you will see that everyone can take part and benefit from the proces and there is no such thing as "failing" at it! Watch for the details and please consider joining us. There will be only a free will offering for this particular group as it will be more of a testing of the waters for me to see what the interest is and what my space will accomodate. No insurance will be accepted for this type of group!
I am also working on some research on the mindbody experience of pain, inspired by the works and writings of Dr. John Sarno. I was introduced to Dr. Sarno's book regarding healing back pain after I first experienced that take your breath away back pain we usually refer to as "throwing my back out" about 15 years ago! His books changed my life and I am interested in helping others recognize the emotional componant of chronic pain. The mindbody connection is so incredibly strong! We cannot separate mind/body/spirit and the more work we do to understand that, the more empowered we are! More on that as I further my research!
Okay my friends...Summertime! Get out there and experience the gift of this season. Feel the sunshine, absorb all it has to ffer us, feel the breeze, listen to the birds, swim in the water, listen to the ocean waves, notice the vibrant green, taste the fresh fruits and vegetables, listen to the laughter of the children, jump in a pool, immerse yourself in water, and celebrate the fact that you are ALIVE!
April 24, 2017
I truly feel like shouting that from the rooftops as so many people were really struggling through the winter months. This last week I have noticed more than ever the beautiful colors and new life that comes with Springtime! If you are practicing mindfulness, you can't help but notice! My wish for you is that it is making you smile as much as it is making me smile!
Now...that doesn't mean that the winter didn't bring with it its beauty, magic, necessary darnkess and cold, and some other not so welcome things! Some folks were quite bothered by the snow (although we had another pretty easy winter I think!) Some people just hate the cold; some feel nothing happens during the winter (at least nothing GOOD); and some feel it's just a comepltely "dead" time. Well, yesterday on my walk I was noticing all the new growth on the trees and coming up from the ground. That doesn't happen overnight! Under the ground those plants, seeds, etc. were growing and changing with every second that passed during the winter. We don't see it, we don't hear it, and thus, we don't even think about the fact that it is happening. My husband was telling me the story of the bamboo plant the other day. Now, I may not have all the facts exactly correct...but I am close enough for you to get the gist of the story! Apparently, when you plant a bamboo plant nothing happens for five years! FIVE years! (If I am off on that number the story is still amazing...even if it is only one or two years...but I really think he said FIVE!) So many people would give up after the first year or even less. They would have chopped down or dug up whatever they had planted thinking it was a "failed" attempt. The bamboo plant has to do what it has to do underground and within it's body in order to grow. We are a society so used to immediate gratification we have a hard time with that!.
Okay...I'll add a bit of a confession to this post. I put on a few (more than a few!) pounds this winter. My business grew quite a bit which meant my days were longer and my free time shorter. That is usually the goal of a new business and I feel very blessed that happened, and at the same time, it posed a huge challenge for me. Add to that mix menopause (which meant some inconsistent sleep patterns, and I was far from motivated to get up at 5:00 like I used to in order to get a run or a trip to the gym in before getting ready for work. The results...yup...a few extra pounds! Needless to say I am not happy with that and I could tell that I was in a bit of a funk when it came to exercise. I did muster up the courage and energy to return to the running program at Fleet Feet (and my husband decided to join me!) so we attended weekly running sessions on Saturday mornings and "ran" (more like jogged and walked a bit!) a road race in March. We were supposed to supplement the Saturday morning runs with weekly runs and cross training days, but most weeks that didn't happen. You know what...that's okay! I was doing more than I had been doing and I am good with that. When the winter session ended, we decided to sign up for the Spring session as well! So, we continue to meet with a fantastic group of people on Saturday mornings, go for a run/walk together, and then head out to grab a nice breakfast after. It has been enough to get me moving, and that is the key!
I knew I needed to add more to my routine if I was truly going to get in shape and shed those pounds, but it was a start! I have been down this road so many times and I am quite certain this won't be the last time (although I would like it to be!) I did remind myself of that during the winter...that I had done this before and slacked off on my exercise...always to return one day. But, I would be lying if I didn't say I had a fear that this time it WOULDN'T happen...I might NOT bounce back. I think that is how it is for so many of my clients. They have ups and downs, many suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder, they put weight on, they isolate from their friends and family, they may not be working due to job loss or lay offs, they may have a physical illness that keeps them homebound, etc. Many have experienced bouts of depression before and have "bounced" back; many just accept that winter is their hibernation time; many have unfortunately gone through a few job transitions...and they have always bounced back. But when that fear of "maybe this time I won't!" creeps in...it's darned scary! I wish we would all make a video of ourselves when we are on the upswing reminding ourselves that we WILL do it! We won't stay in the darnkess forever! Spring comes, the temperature changes, the flowers bloom, the trees bud, the birds chirp...and life goes on!
I noticed that this year, as I turned 54, I allowed a part to creep in that questioned if I could get my physical fitness back to where it was. It was certainly a part...of that I am sure! (My big yellow ball would never doubt!) I started to buy into the age thing as I have so many friends and colleagues who will comment that they can't do what they used to do because they are "getting old." HOGWASH! Thats what I say to that! 50s are the new 30s!
I listened recently to a series of talks by Tony Robins. I like the way he thinks and I really like his story. The talks were from his series on what it means to be healthy. He spoke about health really being at the cellular level! He spoke about what our cells need to thrive...oxygen, nutrients, and they need to eliminate waste products. The cells carry the oxygen throughout the body and that is essential to our health. How do we make sure they are able to do that job? We MOVE! We have to move to cause the blood to flow and therefore the oxygen to get where it needs to go. The nutrients are essential as well, and don't be thinking that just means "food" as most of what we eat today is not high in nutrients and quite frankly not really food.
We need to provide our cells with everything they need, including what they need emotionally. We know that trauma (big T and little t) is stored at the cellular level. We also know that trauma can be passed from generation to generation at the cellular level. So, it's really important we do all we can to be sure those 74 trillion cells are well taken care of. Some of you have heard me speak of Karen Drucker's music. She writes simple music that is based on affirmations. One of her songs says "Love fills every cell in my body, every cell is alive with love!" The verses continue to change the word "love" to "hope," "joy," etc. It seemed like such a silly little song when I first heard it, but now I see the wisdom behind it. We need to imagine our cells being filled with everything positive. Picture the positive energy being absorbed by the cells. Picture the oxygen being absorbed. Picture hope being infused into the cells...and joy as well! That is a great place to start improving the life and condition of your cells!
Next, we need to be mindful of the environment we create for our cells. I will save the details about diet for another day, but do know that a great place to start is to rid our bodies of the toxic things society call "food." Sodas (especially diet sodas), sugar, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, fillers, ingredients we cannot pronouce, food dyes, salt, MSG, chemicals, pesticides, caffeine, etc. are all toxic to us. It doesn't mean we have to cut them all completely out...it just means we need to mindful of what we are putting into our bodies...and definitely be aware of the amounts! The more raw foods we can eat in their natural forms...the better off we are! Okay...enough of the nutrition talk for now!
So...I have come out of the darkness and I hope that you have too! If not, I truly encourage you to take one little step each day. Do one thing differently. Add more water to your day, park farther away from the store, march in place during commercials, get outside for a walk or a bike ride, cut out the toxic foods, add in some new food that is full of nutrients...just do something! I have dusted off my bike and increased my running speed as well as beginning a new series of strength training tapes that are exercises specifically designed for runners. Yesterday I did a 30 minute DVD and today I decided I was only goin to do the 20 minute one. I unwrapped the new package and put the DVD in and about 20 minutes into the exercises I noticed that the little bar that showed how far we were was only half way to the end. Then the coach said "That was 20 minutes...we are half way there!" UGH! I had put in the wrong disc! So, I had a choice to make. I could stop then and be quite happy that I did exactly what I had planned to do (and that would have been awesome!) or I could keep going. I decided to keep going and just see how far I could make it. Remember...it was a long winter! I made it the full 40 minutes but cut out a few sets and modified a few of the exercises so that I could do them without sacrificing good form and safety. I was tired when I finished, felt like my legs were made of rubber, but I didn't regret pushing forward. Don't get me wrong...if I had stopped at 20 minutes, that would have been perfectly wonderful! The fact that I did what I set out to do was all that mattered.
So my friends, I hope this spring time finds you inspired to make some changes. I hope that if you are feeling like you have been hibernating, you get outside. I hope if you have felt asleep, you wake up! I hope if you have felt hopeless...that you find hope! One step. Just one step. Sometimes it helps if we have a buddy to work out with...I know it helps me. However, we can't rely on that. If we do, we will find that we skip our workouts and fall into that dark place of not only being less motivated, but being lonely on top of it! Remember that you have everything you need inside yourself to succeed! You are 100% complete and whole! Sure, things are often more fun with a partner...but you don't need another person to complete you!
That's all for now! If there are some of you interested in forming a group to walk or run in the evenings (some evenings) or on a Sunday morning...let's talk! I would be happy to meet at the West Hartford Reservoir with a group, or even walk around Newington center if my schedule allows! If there is enough interest, I will block out some time! Let's talk! Happy Spring!
February 18, 2017
Here we are in February already and today has been a gorgeous day! The sun was shining...the snow is melting...birds are singing...Spring is on its way!
February seems to always be about Love. So many clients this past week came in grumbling about the "stupid" Hallmark holiday on February 14th! It's funny...when we have a partner and things are going well...we often love holidays. When we have lost someone, or we are not in a relationship, those holidays just remind us that we are lonely. Wow! We sure do give those 24 hours a lot of power over us!
I tried something in the office this week to see who would partake. I created a bulltein board and displayed a few hearts. I reminded folks that we all have the capacity to BE compassion for ourselves and others. Then, I asked people to fill in the hearts that were there by completing the statements: "Today I will..." and there was one pile to indicate how we would show love to others and one pile to indicate how we would show love to ourselves! I have to admit...not too many people took me up on the offer to fill out a heart and display it...but I am going to leave it up until the end of the month and see if I can get a few more to give it a try! I will post a picture at the end of the month!
Love. It's what we are! We have so much to offer to others and ourselves. Many are willing to extend that love to others, but they are so critical and even "mean" to themselves. My goal is to help people change that! So...there you go...take the challenge! What will you do today, tomorrow, the next day...to show love to others and to show love to yourself! Let's hear from you!
January 10, 2017
Check out the new page added here to my website...it's called "Bring it on!" This is the kickstart of a challenge for this "new year!" Details are there...and more will follow via this blog, my facebook page, and in office announcements. So excited to make this happen! Jump on board...don't be afraid! Let's "Bring it on!!!" together!
January 9, 2017
So I am really going to try to keep this blog a little more updated than I usually do! So many of you are telling me that you are trying to make changes in the new year and I want to help and support you in that! So...what we are trying to do??? Share some ideas and thoughts with me via email as there is no way for you to share them here! You can also post them on my facebook page and I will be sure to check.
Many have told me they are trying Weight Watchers this time around in their journey of trying to lose some weight. I will tell you that I am a lifetime member of WW and originally began healthy eating with them after my daughter was born (she is now 25!!) The plan works if you stick with it! I will say this...it's NOT just about the number of points you eat...it's what kind of points. Eating the recommended number of points by eating highly processed foods (we call it "stuff" that is sold as food!) is NOT the way to go! If you achieve your recommended number of points by eating WHOLE foods...vegetables, fruits, healthy proteins and fats...you will find you lose the weight and I truly believe you will feel better! Also...veggies are generally low in points value so you get a lot more of them! I am more than willing to chat with you about my experience with WW and maybe I can even have someone come into the office to discuss the program if it would help!
Now...exercise! We need to MOVE! I don't care if it's walking or dancing or running or bowling...just MOVE!!!! Also...don't set yourself up to give up before you start by making it too difficult. Just move! Studies are showing that more constant moving throughout the day is actually better for us than being sedentary and then hitting the gym for an hour! So...keep it simple and move! I am more than willing to start a walk/run group that meets at the office if there is interest! I currently am doing the run/walk No Boundaries program through Fleet Feet and I love it! I have been a participant and a coach in the past and they were both super experiences! If you want more information check out their website or ask me!
Okay...let's do this! Next time I will talk about the spirit part of our WHOLE being (mind, body, spirit.) They all work together so it doesn't matter where you start! So excited for this journey!
Happy Day before New Year's Eve!
For some reason, many of us focus a lot on our lives and ourselves at this time of year. We think about what we have done, what we didn't accomplish, what we did accomplish, and what our new goals are. I was reading something by Ann Lamott today and it made me chuckle. She said that when she told her Therapist she was going on a diet for the new year her Therapist said "Okay, great! how much weight do you want to gain?" I have come to dislike that phrase "I am going on a diet." With it comes so much pressure, so many expectations, and often, a set up for failure. I hope to share more about this in the coming days. Health and nutrition are very important to me and I struggle just like everyone else! I want to make 2017 a year where I focus on myself a bit more. Building this business takes a lot out of me and I sometimes neglect my own self-care.
I am starting by joining Fleet Feet's No Boundaries Program! I joined the running groups there years ago and met so many wonderful people and fostered my love of running even more. As a result of that experience, the owner of the store asked me to join the coaching team! I LOVED that! Inspiring others to run was such a wonderful experience. From there, I was inspired to train for a triathalon! That was an incredible experience and I hope to do a third triathalon in the near future! Anyone want to join me??? Well, my running is not as prevalent as it used to be and I know I need to increase my running slowly. Thus...I am returning to the No Boundaries program as a member...not a coach! In the spring, I hope to offer a wellness program through The Sacred Self, LLC again and inspire others once again! For more information on al the running programs offered at Fleet Feet, visit their website or their store in West Hartford Center! Such a great place with great people!
I will be posting more about changes I hope to make as I go forward. There is nothing "magical" about a new year...the same cycle of 24 hours will happen and will continue each day. We can use it as inspiration to make a change...or we can see each day as an opportunity for change! it's up to us!
I am currently getting a women's empowerment group off the ground. I had planned to start in January and now I am realizing that I need to push that to either February or even March. There is so much to pull together to make that happen and I want to do it right! So...let me know if you are interested in such a group and watch for more details.
Blessings in this new year. Make it a great year! It's your choice!
December 13, 2016 (again!)
I just had to share this one! Raising Vibrations speaks to the Gemini Supermoon! No matter what your beliefs are, it is always a good time to consider making a shift! Be open to the possibilities that 2017 can bring!
December Full Moon 2016
The December 13-14 Full Moon falls in the airy sign of Gemini and will be culminating events, feelings and emotions that took place around the Sagittarius New Moon back in November.
December’s Full Moon is actually another Super Moon that has been part of a series focused on bringing illumination to the world.
Whatever has been buried beneath the surface of your life has most likely come to a head in the last few months and this last Super Moon is going to bring the final point of illumination for 2016.
This is extremely powerful energy which is going to be helping you to purge all that you need to let go of so you can welcome in the new energy of 2017 with open arms and a fresh perspective.
The December Full Moon is also activating what astrologers call a mystic rectangle. Just as the name suggests, mystic rectangles are magical and mystical and will be helping to supercharge a lot of energy.
From an intuitive standpoint, this mystic rectangle is going to be opening up a portal into a new realm. This realm will be accessible to those who welcome in the energy and in many ways, accessing this realm is going to be like your fast pass into the energy of 2017.
2016 has been a heavy year of endings and letting go, whereas 2017 is a year that is set to be full of new beginnings and fresh starts.
This December Full Moon is now going to be one of your final assessment points where you will be able to review what you have learned and what you are going to be bringing with you into the new cycle.
If there is energy you are still processing, if there are issues that are still coming up for you, they will join you in the new cycle of 2017 unless you make a conscious effort to transcend them now.
There is still time to release and let go of the things you no longer desire to bring with you into the new year. In fact, you have till March 2017 to really release and let go, however after this Full Moon, the energy to release will grow dimmer and dimmer.
If you really feel ready to shed, if you really feel a desire to release and let go, if you really feel a desire to transform into your absolute and fullest potential, if you are ready for this, the Universe will offer you an invitation.
On this December Full Moon, under the power of the mystic rectangle, a portal will open up granting you a fast track. This fast track will allow you to shed things quickly and to release things quickly, so you can accelerate into whatever 2017 has in store for you.
This portal is something that you have to tune into, and is almost like a shortcut that you can access in order to speed through the releasing process.
This portal is only going to be accessible to those who are ready for it and for those who are ready to shift their vibration and fully open their awareness.
Entering into this portal is going to feel like a sudden and fast-paced purging. This purging may be very intense, but when you come out the other side, you are going to feel reborn.
Many of you probably have already felt this purging energy to some extent, but this portal that is opening on the Full Moon will accelerate and help to really purify what energy you are going to take into 2017.
In order to access this portal, pay attention to what comes up for you around this Full Moon. Whatever lessons or themes you have been working with for the last year will most likely rise up into full consciousness and by being aware and ready to release, you will be able to access this energy.
December’s Full Moon is busy and full of energy. Those sensitive to the cycles of the Moon are definitely going to be feeling this one.
Be gentle with yourself around this time and give yourself space to fully reflect and let go. Work on nourishing yourself under this Full Moon and enjoy the amazing illuminating energy it brings.
This Full Moon would also be the perfect time to do a releasing and letting go ritual.
December 13, 2016
Let's hope this works!
I have been really moved by some of the entries posted on the Facebook page "Raising Vibrations" lately. They are speaking my language! I wanted to share this one for today...hopefully more to come! This can be a difficult time of year for many...the darkness, the cold, the Holidays, the lack of sunshine. May you never forget that you are Complete...you are Whole...you are Well! Enjoy! I'll be in touch soon with details of up and coming programs! Warrior Goddess Course coming in late January/early February! So excited! Peace everyone!
Sometimes we are on the verge of Blossoming into a thousand flowers.
But we don't.
We are waiting. We are thinking, ”Maybe tomorrow. I'm quite busy right now doing the same unsatisfying things I have been doing for years. Yep, pretty busy."
Or maybe we are afraid of what will happen if we open up. We are afraid to leave a bad situation because we've forgotten what a good one even looks like for us.
We've gotten so used to a life surrounded by unhappiness that we've convinced ourselves it's normal. After all, everyone else's life looks like this, too.
Somewhere along the way we stopped believing in our own strength and beauty. We think we've lost it, or maybe it was never really there.
And worst of all, we've let someone else define who we are for us. We've lost who we are so we'll believe whatever anyone else tells us, even if it makes us smaller...angrier.
There are not enough voices telling us the Truth. There are not enough voices to get through the mist that has gathered around our belief in ourselves.
Right now, let me be that Voice.
Right now, let me tell you:
You are Strong.
You are Beautiful.
You are Capable.
You are Worthy.
You have made mistakes. You have lashed out. You have hidden your dreams, your light, and your power. These things are true. These are things you have done. They are not you.
You are your Dreams.
You are your Light.
You are your Power.
You are a Miracle waiting to happen.
You are a Blessing waiting to be bestowed.
You are an example of Truth waiting to be spoken.
You are a thousand Blossoms waiting to explode into colour, fragrance, delight and joy.
Don't let anyone hold you back.
Yes, you have been buried.
Like all good seeds. It's time to live.
It's time to open to the world, to the Sun and to yourSelf.
You are on the verge
November 18, 2016
Looking at some up and coming changes here at The Sacred Self, LLC! Watch for more news! Exciting!
July 23, 2016
Well...let's see if this works! This is the third time I have tried to update this and it hasn't worked! They website format is changing and it's not saving my additions. So sorry...of course, you won't even see my apology if it doesn't work!
This past week has been one of enjoying the company of family and reconnecting with friends in a place that is near and dear to my heart. I am visiting my favorite place on earth...Spofford Lake, New Hampshire. The sunsets have been beautiful and the company is the best. It's amazing the power our memories have on us. Everything about this place makes me happy and it's all connected to a time in my life when I was happiest being with friends and family and experiencing nature at it's best.
On the way up I had an experience that made it very clear to me that my Dad and Uncle Joe were with me in my travels. They are both passed and yet they were with me so clearly. They loved this place and they made my time here possible and wonderful back then. Then, the cottage we stayed in had a distinct aroma of soap...the kind of soap my grandmother used...and she is who I stayed with all summer long as a child.
Also, there are butterflies everywhere! We have visitors galore! We lost something today that was rather important. After looking and looking, I shot up a request to my Dad and Uncle and said "I know you are both with us...and we could really use to find this lost item. If you can hel[ us out that would be great!" In a matter of less than a minute...after looking for quite some time...we found it! Amazing!
Never dismiss the power of help from beyond. They are not that far from us. They are right with us...closer than we think. Times like this are a great reminder for me.
So...my message today is to be grateful for every minute of happiness. I am not a doomsday person...I am a realist and the reality is that life is a balance of what we perceive as positive and what we perceive as negative. They go hand in hand. We need to expect both of them at some point! Acknowledge them both and be grateful for both for they are all opportunities for growth!
Peace eveyone...I'll post a few sunsets from the past week when I can!
February 9, 2016
Well, I could start this entry my usual way...with how long it's been since I have written...but I will spare you. Instead, let's just acknowledge that when that is a constant theme it is reason to pause and ask "why?" It is due to the busy-ness of life? Is it that I don't make this a priority? Is it that I fill my time with other things? I suppose all of those could be correct...and I need to hold that in balance with compassion.
I would guess that all of us have had things we think we should do more often...pray, work out, call our moms, touch base with a friend, etc. and when we remind ourselves that it has been "too long" that can often give us a pang of guilt. We think that guilt may act as motivation...and I suppose sometimes it does...but not always. My clients know that "should" is a red flag word for me! I often describe it as a "big ole ball of guilt" that just sits on us! When we use the word "should" it usually comes with a little bit of punishment for NOT having done whatever we are "shoulding" about. We often try to balance that with a little bit of "okay self, I am reminding you that this is important to you...or at least you THINK it is important...or you think it SHOULD BE important!" WOW! Lots to process there.
So...should. Maybe that is a word I will focus on going forward.
For many of us...the season of Lent begins this week. Those of the Christian faith are at least aware of this season whether or not they are tuned into it. The Church gives us these 6 weeks as a time to set aside and be more aware of the journey into the Paschal Mystery of Christ. I love the Paschal Mystery! I don't love it because it is a painful journey...but I do love it as it is a REAL journey!
One of my most favorite presentations I have done is the Parish Mission back in 2012 on "The Paschal Mystery as a Model for Life." It was an awesome experience and I refer to it quite a bit in my life. I don't think it is any accident that this "force" we call "God" took on the human experience not in a quiet, calm, cushy way...but in a very real and painful way. The life of Jesus reflects to us the heroes journey...the journey of each one of us. Jesus' journey was a journey of pain balanaced with much joy and happiness. It is clear that Jesus did not play the "God card" to protect himself from pain. He lived it...each and every step of it...just like we do. I know that this journey, the heroe's journey is also a part of other faith journeys as well but I won't attempt to speak to something I am not fully knowledgable on. Even if the Christian belief is not one you share...do a bit of research on other faiths and I think you will find truth in that statement. If Religion is not your thing...read some of the classics about the Heroe's journey. You will see this same up and down path with challenges, self sabotaging, and down in the pit experiences. However...it never ends there! After all...it is called the HEROE'S journey!
You see...the hero always rises. She may fall...she actually NEEDS to fall...but she rises. Brene Brown talks about entering the Arena...taking a chance...daring greatly. Yes, life is about a journey of daring greatly...living outside our comfort zone...stepping into the Arena...taking a chance. yes!
I am so inspired by my clients when they face the challenges life has presented and they step into the Arena! For my grief clients, they are creating a new normal without their loved one. For my Addiciton clients they are facing the challenge of life without the one thing they feel has been their comfort, their "friend." For my Depression and Anxiety clients they are facing a life filled with uncomfortable and down right scary choices being made that put them out there to try new things and break the patterns that have held them hostage. For so many dealing with past issues, they are facing the decision to release the hold the past has on them and stepping into a new life with many uncertainties. WOW! I love that! I love each and every one of them and the journey they have undertaken. And, I am honored to walk beside them into that scary future of the unknown.
You have often heard me say "We are all ONE." I believe that with all my heart. I continue to be amazed at how everything we need to know we can learn from nature. I practice mindfulness and try to be aware of the magnificent world that surrounds me. I understand that if one person suffers, we all suffer. I know that we cannot create walls to protect us from the things we find scary. We are all ONE. We are in this together.
So...we go forward and whether you observe Lent or not...we enter into this transition time of winter to spring...from darkness to light...from what seems "dead" to what seems to burst with new life. However...it is not totally dark, and what seems dead is not dead at all. If we could only have a camera and sound to see and hear what is happening underneath the soil right now we would witness great life in gestation. Great things are happening...now and always! God, Energy, Universe, Force...is at work constantly...always in control...always leading and guiding...but never forcing. We respond as we can or as we choose. Amazing!
Journey forward my friends. We will travel this road together.
December 4, 2015
I am sitting here at my kitchen table enjoying a cup of coffee and yes...watching the news. I can't help but be moved with so many different emotions and it has made me think and pull a few thoughts together that I felt the need to share...so here goes...
One of my favorite books of all times is Richard Rohr's "Everything Belongs." It was the first book written by him that I read and it had a profound impact on me and on my life. My husband has read it as well and it had the same impact on him. We often bring it into our conversations and in light of what has been happening lately...it has come up a lot. The idea of "everything belonging" is just that...good, bad, happy, sad, war, peace, poverty, wealth...they all belong. Happy times, sad times...yup...they all belong. Life and death...yes...both belong. They are all part of our journey and an essential part at that.
Last night I was presenting the final night of a three evening mission on Advent at a Parish in Southington. It was a beautiful group of people and they were so willing to listen and to think and hopefully to apply the things they were hearing. It was beautiful, peaceful, inspiring, welcoming, warm, friendly...perfect. Meanwhile...the annual tree lighting was taking place in New York...but some of the Today staff had to leave to get to CA to cover the story of the most recent shooting. I find it sad that we now have to qualify what we are talking about with the word "recent" or "most recent." Sad. But real. Everything belongs. The families involved in the shooting were gathering, crying, grieving, celebrating...everything belongs.
I watched an episode of Super Soul Sunday and Oprah was interviewing Zainab Salbi...a peace activist who works by empowering women all over the world. She was explaining that during war times...for many...life goes on...under direction of the women. The men are off fighting and the women continue to take care of the children, send them to school, cook, clean, etc. They keep life going while war rages around them. That is what we are doing right now. There is "war" happening around us and yet in so many ways we are continuing "life as usual" as much as we can. We need to. Everything belongs. Some of us are doing it because we aren't greatly affected by the "war" and some are doing it as a distraction. Some don't know what else to do and so they continue living. It's all good. Everything belongs.
It's important that we continue to live. It's important that we continue to decorate our houses, our trees, and to live our lives. At the same time...it is important that we are aware of what is happening in our world. Everything belongs. Fr. Vincent Youngberg presented a mission at many area churches and his talk was entitled "From Fragmentation to Wholeness." The first time I heard him speak he began with "If one person in your parish is hurting...everyone should be hurting." WOW! I was active in the parish and the school at the time, and yet I looked around and realized there were many people in that church I didn't know at all. How would I know if they were hurting when I don't even know who they are. We don't know each other. We hear about being the "Body of Christ" and yet...we don't know the other members of our "body." We are all connected...everything belongs.
The tree lighting program changed up the opening "act" and had a children's choir sing "Let there be peace on earth" instead of whatever the opening song was scheduled to be. Many love that song...many sing it...but I think we often forget the most important line..."let it begin with me." yes...it begins with us. Everything belongs. We are a microcosm of the macrocosm. In so many ways we as individuals don't know our own bodies and yet we think we can be aware of the "bigger body" of which we are a part? Hard to do unless we are mindful, pay attention, notice, stay awake! Hmmmmmm...sounds familiar. Isn't that the very message of the season of Advent that so many are observing right now. Everything belongs.
So...today I head to work. I attend an off site meeting, I see clients, and then I present another Advent reflection evening tonight. I give my message of HOPE. In it, I include the fact that everything belongs. Jesus' story is not a neat, clean, comfortable story. It is messy, harsh, difficult. Everything belongs.
I wish you peace, I wish all of us peace...after all...we are all ONE. With that peace there will likely be hurt, pain, war. Yes. Everything belongs.
October 28, 2015
Two entries in the same month! Wow! I am pretty excited about that!
Well...I posted something on Facebook today that truly described where I am right now on my journey. Some people think that as a therapist I must have it all together (whatever that means!) and to be honest...if I ever feel I have to all together I will be worried! Life is a journey...every changing...every challenging. I don't expect to ever have it fully figured out! We are people who change based on the experiences that shape us and we need to be flexible...malleable. So...here I am...flexible...changing...and enbracing my journey!
So...I continue to practice mindfulness in my every day life. It is essential to me. Paying attention...noticing...that matters greatly! I have felt "unsettled" lately. I lost a dear friend recently and it shook me at my core. It was sudden and she was my mentor, my cheerleader, my teacher, my friend. I miss her so much. I do know she is with me...probably even closer to me now than she could be before. However, for me, it takes more than just picking up the phone to hear from her. I have to listen...to pay attention. She "speaks" a different "language" now. No words...at least not her words. I find her in the songs I hear, the confidence I feel, the 'aha' moments with my clients. She is there. So often, events like this change us. They make us think, they stir us up. And...that is happening to me.
So...I made a decision recently to give up my positions as Music Director/Organist at the two places I hold those positions. I love my work..all of my work. I love my counseling practice and I love leading music at Eucharistic Liturgy. When I left my last church I missed the music so much that I took two new positions shortly after. And...both of those places have fed me and nourished me in significant ways. However...the Spirit is stirring again and I feel the need for more time...more space. So, I will be leaving those positions. I made the decision, I gave my notice, and of course, I am scared wondering if I did the right thing. Many of you will understand when I say that I know that I made the right decision because it's the decision I made! (you have heard that a time or two before!) So...what does this have to do with the story I shared...here you go!
I have had a song in my head lately and I have no idea why or where it came from. I knew I had heard the song before, but it was not a song I had in my itunes and not a song I had purchased sheet music for. This morning I had about ten minutes before I had to leave for work. So...what I do with ten spare minutes??? I play the piano! I sat at the piano and was bored with the music I had out. So...I grabbed a random binder and opened it...and there was the music to the song that had been in my head!!! I saw the words and couldn't believe what I was seeing. I knew I hadn't purchased that music so I looked through the binder to see where they other music in it had come from. The music was from my students at Mercy back when I ran the Praise and Worship Group. That was probably five years ago! One particular girl had given me music hoping we could use some of it for liturgy. I know for a fact we never used this particular song...but there it was...waiting for me to play and sing. So, play and sing I did! For ten minutes...pure glory.
The words..."Greater things are yet to come, greater things are still to be done in the city." Do I believe? You bet I do!
Trust the journey. Listen. Pay attention. Feel the stirrings. Know your body. Know what your body is telling you. And respond.
October 9, 2015
Well, once again I am going to begin this posting with my usual sentiment of "I cannot believe how much time has passed since my last entry."
I see that the last posting was from May and I was exclaiming "It is SPRING!" Hard to believe that not only Spring, but Summer have passed us by...but have they???
When something passes us by...I get the feeling that we didn't experience it. It wasn't integrated as part of our journey. It almost feels like it is untouchable...unreachable...it passes by but we can't grab it. Well, that is only true if we choose it to be true! (At least with the seasons it is!)
Days happen, weeks happen, months happen, etc. Time doesn't stop...and that's a good thing. Let me explain...(and hopefully I am not repeating myself!)
I remember when I lost my Dad and I wanted the world to stop. I was very offended by the sound of the nurses laughing at the desk as I stood next to the bed where my now deceased Father lay in front of me. I wanted to scream "Don't you know that my Daddy just died????" Of course, the answer would have been "no. we didn't know." Along with me wanting them to know...I wanted EVERYONE to know! I wanted the world to stop in its tracks and acknowledge that my Dad was no longer alive. But...the world didn't. The world kept going...and thank God it did!
If we got our wish and the world stopped when we were devastated...we would stay there.
Now...think about what that would mean. If things stopped...we would be in that moment of pain forever. We would be stuck in that image...that experience...forever.
When it comes to the seasons...we would be stuck where we are if things didn't change. Some of you might think that is aa great idea but even if we were "stuck" in our favorite season...we would likely get tired of it...it wouldn't be special anymore.
Sometimes, the changes that happen grab our attention. They pull us into the moment...the present moment, which is all we really have. If we get too used to things...they can "pass us by" and we don't even realize it's happening. So...if the summer passed you by...why?
Were you mindful?
Did you pay attention?
Were you aware of the changes?
Did you note them and express gratitude for them?
Did the few rainy days come as a relief from the heat?
Did you come to take the nice weather for granted?
Did you embrace each moment and treasure it?
Of course, most of us cannot say "yes!" to all of those questions...but hopefully you can say yes to a few! If not...start now!
Notice the temperature changes...
Notice the colors...
notice the smells...
Notice the flavors...
Notice the behaviour of the animals...
Listen to the birds...
Ahhhh...so many changes and yet...if we don't pay attention it may all "pass us by!"
May you notice, and experience the wonderful world we live in!
May 20, 2015
I feel like I begin each and every post here with "I cannot believe how much time has passed since my last entry." So...although I just began like that...I won't officially begin like that!
It is May. It is SPRING! Today is a gorgeous sunny day with a gentle breeze...maybe a little stronger than gentle...but beautiful just the same. On days like this I wish I could just go sit outside and feel the sun and the breeze and just be. Of course, I could. That is a choice I have. But, with that choice comes sacrifices. My hair would be a mess (and I have to go back to work shortly), I could get sweaty and need another shower, I would have to dig out some of the lawn chairs, etc. etc. etc. yes...my choice...but it requires work.
Life is about choices. Whether we think it is or not...it is. We always have a choice. That doesn't mean we control everything that happens to us. No, things happen that are definitely now in our control. What we have a choice about it our reaction to what happens. We create our own perceptions by the things we believe, the things we tell ourselves, the meaning we attach. Our choice. Initially the feelings may come up without us consciously choosing them...but from that point on...we choose.
Those of you who have worked with me know that I love Internal Family Systems (IFS) and dealing with our "parts." Not our body parts, but the parts that make us who we are. Our angry parts, our sad parts, our happy parts, our hopeful parts...and even some parts that are more specific...the part that is scared of elevators, the part that feels it can't resist (fill in the blank.) etc. Dealing with our parts is a process of getting to kow the part, discovering what that part is doing for us, and NOT judging the part but rather embracing the part into healing. It's a beautiful thing! My clients are used to me telling them to talk to their parts...talk to themselves! They laugh...but it's really effective. When it comes to our choices, we need to talk then too! We can talk ourselves through a situation and discover that our thoughts truly are controlling our feelings. It's an exciting process and I love helping others master that process (and I use it with myself too!)
So...today I have choices. I made a mistake regarding the time of an appointment this morning (I was an hour early!) I can attach all kinds of meanings to that. I can judge myself big time. I can get angry about the wasted time. Or...I can choose to accept it and move forward. I can choose to focus on the fact that I had some down time and I was able to just BE. I listened to some music, I read, I did a quiet meditation, I breathed and just sat with that breath. What a beautiful thing. What a gift. What I didn't do was continue to remind myself of what I COULD have done with that extra hour. What I could have accomplished during that time. Life is not always about what we accomplish...what we get done. LIfe is about experiencing the moment. Taking in the surroundings, being grateful for the things and the people that surround us. Listening to the sounds, smelling the smells.
So, today it is SPRING. The flowers are beautiful, the birds are singing, the sun is shining. No, I won't dig out the lawn chairs and sit outside. Not right now anyway. But I will make a choice to appreciate the Springtime from inside while I type this, and then I will notice, pay attention, and appreciate the Sprintime as I head back to my office. I will take it in, I will breathe, and I will be grateful.
Choices. We all have them. Make them. And own them.
March 6, 2015
Once again, I cannot believe how much time has passed since I have made a blog entry. The long, dark days of Winter have been filled with so much. One thing we know for sure...they have been filled with snow! The snow was beautiful to start, and if we are able to get past the burden of the snow, it is still quite beautiful...but it has been a challenge for many. First, snow removal, ice, snow on the rooftops...those are a burden. The cold temperatures have not made it easy for many. Also, the days without sunshine have made those who suffer Seasonal Effective Disorder struggle even more. And...even those without such a diagnosis are longing for the sunshine...and a little more Vitamin D!
I would, however, invite each of you to take a minute and find the beauty in the snow. On a day like today, when the sun is shining, we can be blinded by the glare and complain about it, or we can throw on some sunglasses and enjoy it! Step outside, at least for a bit, and feel the sunshine on your face. If you are homebound, sit near a window and allow the sun to warm you through the glass.
I will share a picture here that a friend of mine took on one of her daytime hikes. This was shortly after we had the most unique and magnificent snow fall the night before. The snow was truly in the form of "flakes" and those flakes rested on the bitter cold surfaces like fleks of diamonds. I remember walking out of my office late that evening while the snow was falling. The couple exiting the building in front of me commented rather quickly "it's %($*#) snowing again!" I get it...they were unable to see beyond the frustration. But, I stopped and said "Yes! But LOOK at that snow!" It was spectacular! Little fleks of diamonds all over every surface, none of them melting at all. It was absolutely gorgeous. At first, they looked at me like I had six heads! Then, they made the comment "hey, good reframing there!" (they were obviously therapists themselves! I hope they were able to enjoy the gift from above, even though it caused some tension and frustration.
You see, that is what life is about...the BOTH/AND! Yes, the snow is a challenge...especially after a winter like this one. But, even with the challenge, it is beautiful. Noticing the beauty and taking a moment to just embrace it doesn't make it less challenging...but it doesn't make it MORE challenging either. We have the choice. We can grumble and complain...and there will still be snow on the ground that makes each day more challenging...or we can see the beauty and know that there will still be snow on the ground that may make our day more challenging. Our choice.
What will you choose today? It's totally in your control!
Enjoy the picture...embrace the beauty...and face the challenge.
January 28, 2015
Can it really be that the last time I posted a blog entry it was November of 2014? Where does the time go? I guess that is a question many of ask. Well, this month I celebrated my birthday. I received a pretty cool gift from my sister. It was a NOW clock! Instead of numbers, this clock has the word "now" where there should be a number. The lesson in that??? All we ever have is NOW! "What time is it?" NOW! Not an easy lesson for any of us to accept but a lesson that has much power for our lives.
The holidays bring many emotions for folks. Children are excited that Christmas is coming, adults are excited when it's over! (well...not always...but many are excited that the hustle and bustle are over!) If you observe Christmas, then you are somehow associated with Christianity and the story of Christ. If that is the case, then the season of Advent is likely part of your tradition. Advent is my favorite time of the year. The word Advent means "arrival" and when related to Christmas it is about awating the arrival of the Christ. If we take the word out of the religious context then it would focus on whatever we are waiting for. We are always waiting for something. And yet, once we are where we were waiting to be...we tend to either wish we were back where we were...or somewhere else in the future. I remember Erma Bombeck wrote a great poem about this very idea. As children, we can't want to be a teen, we can't wait to be 16, we can't wait to be 18, 21, then married, then children, then a home...then we get older and we wish we could be young again! It seems we are always wishing for something other than "now." When really...all we ever have...is NOW!
So, I continue to practice the art of living in the now. Am I great at it...not a chance...but I am trying! Most of my clients know my favorite words are mindful, aware, pay attention, and notice, be open. I live by those words. In each and every moment I try to be aware and be open to what the Universe (for me...God) is presenting me. There are signs all around us of opportunities that help us along our journey. Think of Dorothy on the yellow brick road. She met a series of obstacles and a series of people to assist her. She could have just passed them by...but she didn't. She noticed. She paid attention. She listened. She was aware. She was mindful. Was she distracted at times? Sure! Aren't we all!? But, we need to trust the journey and allow ourselves to be led. Stay in the now. Notice what is in front of you. And...be grateful for it...good or bad. Ahhhhh...thats for next time!
November 20, 2014
Just wanted to share this quote from Pema Chodron...Maria Sirois share it first!
Enjoy and sit with this in your meditation today!
Wanted to share the gorgeous thought from Pema Chodron:
HOW TO BUILD INNER STRENGTH
You build inner strength through embracing the totality of your experience, both the delightful parts and the difficult parts. Embracing the totality of your experience is one definition of having loving-kindness for yourself. Loving-kindness for yourself does not mean making sure you’re feeling good all the time—trying to set up your life so that you’re comfortable every moment. Rather, it means setting up your life so that you have time for meditation and self-reflection, for kindhearted, compassionate self-honesty. In this way you become more attuned to seeing when you’re biting the hook, when you’re getting caught in the undertow of emotions, when you’re grasping and when you’re letting go. This is the way you become a true friend to yourself just as you are, with both your laziness and your bravery. There is no step more important than this.
Monday, November 10, 2014
Well, today was a glorious day! The weather was so mild for November and the sun was incredibly warm. These days are few and far between which makes us appreciate them all the more. Why is that? Why does it take the threat of something being gone to make us appreciate it when it's here? Something to ponder.
But, that's not what I want to write about today. Today is about "smiley faces on the shower door." Yup...that's what I said. "Smiley faces on the shower door." For at least a year now I have been drawing two smiley faces on the shower doors each and every day I take a shower. I know...way too much information right? Well, let me explain. It started one day when I was actually having one of those really HAPPY days. I was likely singing in the shower and then I spontaneously drew the faces. The next day, I did the same. And...each day after that. Until there came a day when I wasn't happy. I was sad. Or I was angry. I can't really remember the exact emotion...I just know it wasn't happy. I stood there and thought "no smiley face today!" And in that moment I heard myself say "you choose!" I actually thought to myself "I will be a fake if I draw those faces because it's NOT who I am today." But that wasn't true! As I finished rinsing my hair I realized that I CHOOSE. The smiling me, the happy me, is ALWAYS in me. I can decide to let her dominate...or let her be hidden by the parts that are not happy. I choose.
To understand this...think about the sun and the clouds. Just because the sun isn't always seen...it doesn't mean it isn't there. The sun never goes away! It's always there! Sure...the clouds may hide it for a bit...but it never goes away. So...my smiley self...the joy filled part of me is also always there. It never goes away. I just have to decide to let her out! You see...unlike the clouds...I DO have the power to move the sad parts aside and allow the happy, joy filled part to shine. Drawing the smiley faces is a daily reminder to me to always choose joy!
You may not want to start drawing in the steam on your shower doors...but make a few sticky notes and post them in places you will see them daily. Remind yourself that YOU CHOOSE! Make the choice every day. Don't judge the sad or angry parts...they are there to help you...but just gently give them permission to step aside. Tell them "I got this!" Make the choice. Choose joy.
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Well, it has been quite a long time since I have made a blog entry and so much has happened. New clients, new challenges, loving my office and location even more...and changes all around for my other job situation. Some know, I resigned my position as Music Director and last weekend was my last weekend. This weekend, I wanted to be somewhere very different for my first weekend not working at the church and I found the perfect place...or should I say the Universe (or for me God) found the perfect place! A friend of mine is a partner in a Guesthouse in Vermont and we went up and spent the weekend with her. It was a beautiful Inn that was built in the 1800s and recently renovated! Just beautiful! And...the surrounding landscape and buildings made it more charming than ever! The owner of the building also purchased an old church across the street and renovated it into the absolutely beautiful, sacred, space that can be used for gatherings. It overlooks a magestic river surrounded with trees and rocks galore! Just beautiful. The views from the building were breathtaking and the inside of the building was warm, charming, and so inviting. Trust me...my wheels are turning and I WILL be offering offsite retreats at this location in the future! Mark my words!
Our trip also involved reconnecting with an old friend of mine who is a partner in running the Inn. Our friendship began back before I was in high school and although we haven't seen each other in years...we reconnected on Facebook and have been keeping in touch. I knew this would be a difficult transitional weekend for me and visiting her at the Inn was a perfect way to be reminded of the many wonderful things in my life...people, places, and relationships.
This morning, we came downstairs to find her in the kitchen hustling around making coffee and setting out bagels and other treats. We sat together, broke bread, and shared Eucharist in a way that was sacred beyond sacred. We greeted each other, shared stories, blessed each other, broke bread, expressed our thanksgiving, laughed, shared our troubles, planned for the future, and vowed to do it again soon! Sounds like a weekend worship service to me! The only thing missing was music...but alas...that was there too! Much to our surprise, as we sat at the beautiful dining room table by the fire, we suddenly heard people's voices and music. There was a small parade coming down this country road! Apparently it is a small group of men who do re-enactments of an old English custom of entertaning folks on the street in front of gathering places! It was funny, interesting, festive, and odd all at the same time! The other music...the sound of the river! The Inn sits in front of the Rock River and the sound of the water running was so calming and mesmerizing! Just beautiful! God provided all I needed this weekend to fill the hole left as I said goodbye to a Parish and a job that meant the world to me. God never disappoints!
So my friends...never give up! Have dreams, and know that truly the Universe is on your side! Good things are always in store for us! Watch for signs (I have been paying attention to numbers and doing a lot of reading on their meanings...fascinating!) The signs will be there...but they may not be in the form of what you expect. Be careful of expectations. Expect good things...but don't define what those good things are to look like! Celebrate what is in front of you. Embrace the wonderful things offered to you. Be open. Enjoy. Love.
I wish you all the peace I was able to find this weekend. Enjoy the pictures of this phase of my journey...
Sunday, October 5, 2014
The Hero's journey...the dark night of the soul...the battle...the call...resisting the call...accepting the call...
I'm not sure how many of you may have caught Oprah's Super Soul Sunday today, but she had on Elizabeth Gilbert...author of Eat, Pray, Love. It was another great episode, and as always. if I pay attention...if I notice...if I listen...there are always messages I believe I am intended to hear.
As I grieve my job of Music Minister and my Parish...I am experiencing many of the same emotions that I hear so many of you describe. I find myself riding the rapids of this river and just holding on for dear life. I would never compare this loss to the impact of losing a spouse...I am only comparing the feelings of loss, confusion, question, etc. I acknowledge that losing a person we love is more intense...so I ask that you please don't disregard my feelings just because they are not as intense as yours may have been. That is important as we acknowedge anyone's feelings of loss. A wise professor of mine said that "comparison is the best way to kill compassion." I try very hard to not compare one client's experience to another's in the sense of each person's journey is their own...it is relative...and their pain is real. That's important.
So...I have my pain, my sadness, my tears. And that's okay. Sure, it hurts, but it is teaching me something about myself. Each conversation I have with people about this situation helps to learn more about me, about my growth and development, about my journey, past and present...and possibly future. The funny thing is that I truly believe that the past and the future are only illusion and all we have is the present. So, I try to stay there. i am not always good at that, but I try.
Today was tough. I played the songs, I said a few more good-byes, I gave lots of hugs and received them too! I had breakfast with three of my music ministry family, and I was grateful for every minute of all that. With that came more pain of what I am leaving behind. I am not doubting my decision. I truly believe I am doing the right thing. At the same time, it's scary. There's no turning back now. I have heard the call and I have accepted the call. I have gone through the dark night of my soul and know that there will be more to come. But, what I have not forgotten is that my God is with me...always. I believe that I will get through this and that there are great things waiting for me on the other side of this experience.
If I keep noticing, keep paying attention, and am mindful of myself in this, I will grow. At the same time, I may be able to help others grow too. Some are angry. They tell me I CAN'T leave. They tell me I am not being fair. They tell me the Parish needs me. They tell me that they need me. It's hard to balance their "needs" with my own "needs." I respect that in each of my clients and I hope that others can respect that in me. I too am real. I too struggle. Elizabeth Gilbert said today that people who talk about rock bottom say that even when you think you have hit the bottom, there is always a trap door somewhere that can make you fall farther down. And, on the fiip side of that...no matter how high we think we have come spiritually, grace is always there pulling us even higher (not her exact words!) Now THAT is something to hold onto!
It was a great day all around. Some pain, some pleasure, some tears, some laughter, some lessons taught and some lessons learned. Both/and. Yes, that is life and I am blessed beyond blessed.
Have a great week everyone.
October 1, 2014
Rainy days...ahhhhh. Nice!
I love a rainy day! It gives us a reason to slow down. It gives us a reason to be grateful and to recognize just how much water sustains us. It gives us a reason to watch the birds frolick and play in the puddles. For so many, it gives them a reason to complain, a reason to stress, a reason to be grumpy. It's our choice...we decide. I know what I am going to choose...How about you????
September 29, 2014
Well, this past Saturday I had the honor of running the Believe208 road race in East Hartford with a few members of my family. It was a race to support mental health awareness for our law enforcement officers and other first responders. The name of the race came from the idea that we believe we can make a difference and the 208 was Officer Paul Buchanan's badge numer. Paul committed suicide in 2012 with his duty gun. He had experienced and saw things that we shouldn't have to see during our life times. He had reached out for help but it didn't come in a form that worked for him. There wasn't much awareness, and just not enough was done. We don't want to see that continue...in law enforcement or anywhere!
I have been blessed to work with survivors of suicide and it is one of the most heart breaking experiences. Why then would I say I have been 'blessed" to do that work? Well, I consider it a blessing any time I am asked, invited, welcomed into the most painful parts of a person's journey. We are not meant to travel this journey alone...and when someone calls on me for help, I know that I am being led to a place that is sacred. A sacred and vulnerable place that many times they don't want or can't imagine allowing anyone into. So, I enter with them...and I know I am walking on sacred ground. I treat them, and their life situation gently and with respect. My heart breaks for them and I try to meet them where they are and just be in that pain as a safe, person of support. It is sacred. It is holy.
Between working with those who have experienced enough trauma to feel the need to end their life, and working with those who are left behind, I know that we need to do more. We need to learn more, we need to reach out more, we need to be more connected with each other...and we need to keep learining more about the brain, the mind, the effects of our environment on our mental health, and the physical aspects of wellness. I look forward to doing more work with those in law enforcement and those who have experienced trauma from the front line. Participating in that race on Saturday...being surrounded by law enforcement officers, their familes and friends...it was amazing. It was also amazing to meet Trish Buchanan, Paul's wife, and see her carrying out the mission he left her. Such an inspiration!
We are only on this earth a short time...we need to do all we can to help make this journey meaningful and joyful for everyone. Remember...we can make a difference in someone's life every day. Take a moment to pay attention, to notice, to smile, to talk, to be kind to another person. ( I know I will!) We just never know the effect it may have on their day, their week...their life!
September 26, 2014
Well, this has been an amazing week for me! Some great sessions with clients and some real awakenings for me too! You see, therapists are not immune to struggles. We go through many of the same things our clients go through and sometimes we can access the tools we so often share, and other times we just need to ride the waves of whatever it is we are going through...just like you! So, this week, I had a few of those rides myself. After many years of service I resigned from my position at my church. My "job" as Music Director has been one of the greatest joys in my life. Music speaks to me like nothing else, and when you put a group of people together (such as my choir!) and all learn and sing a song together...it touches my soul (and the souls of others) unlike anything I can describe. I have been so blessed with wonderful music ministry family members and we, together, have led our parishioners in some beautiful prayer over the years. Well, things change. Administration changed, and things began to be different, to feel different, and it didn't feel right. I will spare you the details, but know that it became a situation that wasn't "good" for me. I found myself getting angry, frustrated, sad, anxious...and I found myself ruminating over conversations or decisions that had taken place and were now in the past. Last week, my husband and I were walking our dog (see picture below!) in one of our favorite locations, and we were both talking about the situation at church. We found ourselves getting all worked up in a matter of minutes. I stopped and said "Look at us. This is not good. I don't want to live like this." At that moment I decided that I needed to resign. Giving my notice was one thing...accepting the reality was another. I told a few close friends, told my cantors, told my choir members...and with each person I told it became more "real." I was still feeling angry and sad...until today. I played a funeral this morning with one of my very close friends who is also a cantor at our church. It was beautiful. They are always beautiful. We love doing funerals together. I know...people often think that is strange because most people hate funerals. We love them. At a time when there is nothing you can do for a grieving family...we give them the gift of music. Today was special as we knew it might be the last funeral we do together at that church. Then I left and I was listening to the radio and a song came on by Steven Curtis Chapman. The song is called "Long Way Home." It grabbed me. It spoke to me. I was hooked! I downloaded the song onto my phone the minute I got home, and I was able to find the sheet music on line as well. As I walked the dog this evening, I listened to the song over and over. I have visions of doing a slide show of memories of my ministry over the years with this song playing in the background. The premise of the song...that we are on an adventure...a journey...and there will always be mountains and valleys on this journey. The mountains may be steeper than we expect and the valleys may be deeper. But, the bottom line...we are never alone...and we will make it! Nice! The theme of many sessions this week seemed to be "mindfulness, awareness, paying attention, being open, noticing, and believing!" We all need to be open...every minute of every day. But...that's pretty hard to do. So, we do the best we can. In the midst of this storm of mine, I was trying to be open...but it was hard to see through the sand and debris that was "flying" all around me. The funeral, the music we created, made me a little more open...a little more able to see and hear and notice. The song on the radio had a message and today I was able to hear it. My heart is feeling better. My soul is saying "yes, we are doing the right thing." I am both sad and excited...burdened and relieved. Life is always both/and...never either/or. I know that. My head knows that and my heart knows that too. So many things that happened this week led me to where I am today...led me to the place I needed to be to hear the messages, to feel the love, to receive the affirmations and to know that I am doing the right thing. I am taking care of myself...I am honoring the person I am...I am choosing positive...i am choosing joy. For that...I am so very grateful. Namaste everyone. Peace. Charleen
September 22, 2014
It's hard to believe how much time has passed since my last entry and since my trip to New Mexico! So much has happened in such a short amount of time. I am feeling more and more settled into the new office every day and I REALLY love it! The meditation room is coming along and I hope to begin offering classes in November! Watch for more details. Also...you can find me on Facebook at my business page and there is always information there regarding wellness programs, etc.
So...fall is upon us. Autumn to be exact. It's my favorite season for sure! I am not a summer girl...I don't like the heat. I love the chilly mornings of fall, sweatshirts, holding a nice cup of hot coffee, feeling the breeze on my face, and of course, watching the colors change in nature. I remember when I was younger learning that the beautiful process of leaves changing colors is actually the dying process. Leaves change colors as they die. The very thing most of us fear in life is the very thing we find beautiful in nature during this season! Isn't that interesting!!?? I think God...the Universe...Energy...whatever term you are comfortable with is pretty amazing. All we need to learn about life and death...the perfect "textbook" on the subject...can be found in nature. Look at a forest. At first glance, you see life. You see the tall trees, the green leaves, you hear the birds and the other small critters running around, and maybe you might even hear the buzzing of bees or other insects. That's first glance. Then...look closer. You see dead trees that have fallen. You see trees that are diseased. You see leaves that are dried and crumpled on the ground. You may even see a dead critter or sorts. Not all trees live to be old. Not all critters live to be old. There are no guarantees in nature. There are not guarantees in life. It's a process...the natural process.
I remember reading that suffering is the result of resisting what is. I like that! We choose to suffer. We don't choose pain...that is inevitable. But, suffering is optional. The closer we can come to accepting what is...whether we like it or not...the less suffering we will experience. Now...in life situations...there are times we accept what IS, but we also know we have to get away from it! Abusive relationships, toxic environments...those are things we can avoid. We can't always change the situation, but we can change whether we stay in the situation or not. The big events though...we can't always get away from them. Death happens. It's part of life. How we face it...our own or someone else's...is up to us. The pain is inevitable...the suffering...optional. Trust me...I'm still working on that one myself! We aren't expected to master this thing called life overnight! One day at a time...one breath at a time.
So, for now...be mindful of what you are experiencing. Be mindful of what you are seeing. Find beauty in the process. For a quiet meditation this week, find a leaf that has already started to change colors. Just sit with it. Try to observe it without judgment. Just be and see. If nothing else, that little exercise will help you to remain in the moment. Don't look ahead...don't look behind. Just be...in the moment.
i wish you peace this week and throughout this season of Autumn. Embrace the process. It is the process of life.
September 5, 2014
I was blessed and honored to attend a Conference in New Mexico this week. The Conference was called "Conspire, 2014" and it consisted of several presentations by three different speakers. The word Conspire comes from the Latin word Conspirare which means "breathing together." At the start of each session, over 1,100 of us inhaled together and exhaled together in silence. Ahhhh...it was wonderful! The talks were incredibly inspiring and extremely thought provoking. It will take me much time to sit and discern what I heard and most importantly what it means as I go forward. Life is a journey, it is a dynamic journey filled with Joy, Compassion, and based 100% on LOVE. We are ONE with each other...and ONE with the universe. That means we have a huge priviledge and a huge responsibility. WOW! Love it! I am sure I will be sharing more about the Conference as I meditate on what I "learned"...but for now I just know that Life is Good, and we are a part of a loving universe created and cared for by a loving energy many call God. It doesn't matter what we call it...as long as we recognize that the energy is in each and every one of us! You are sacred. I am blessed to help people discover and re-discover their sacred selves every day. Namaste everyone.
p.s. this is a picture of the sunset from the top of the Sandia Mountains...over 10,000 feet up! Just gorgeous!
Well, the move is complete! It was tough leaving such a beautiful place but I am excited to begin the next step of the journey. So many possibilities, so many risks, so many questions...isn't that life!!?? I am so blessed to be following this dream! Who would have ever thought that my students at Mercy High School would be the start of me embarking on this new dream??!! Those girls inspired me to help others beyond what can be done in the classroom. I will forever be grateful for my teaching years and especially those girls at Mercy! Love to all of them near and far who have gone on to do amazing things in this world! Keep up the great work girls!
Peace to all!
p.s. flying out today to head to New Mexico for a Spirituality conference! So excited to see Richard Rohr (again!) and Rob Bell (a first for me!) Used so many Rob Bell dvds in my years of teaching and have read many of his books too! So excited to meet him and listen to what he has to say! There is a third presenter...a Franciscan Sister (Delia D'Elia I think!) and I am excited to hear her too. If she is a friend or Richard's and Rob's ...she is good in my book! So excited! i will share when I return!!!
Welcome to my blog!
This is a picture of my best buddy...Moose! He is by my side most of the time and he is my therapist! Dogs are pretty amazing. They listen, they give us unconditional love, they are ALWAYS in the moment, they never ruminate about the past, and unless they are anticipating a ride in the car of a soon to come meal or treat...they don't think about the future! We can learn a lot from our dogs.
This has been one very exciting and emotional journey for me. My Practice began almost two years ago and I was blessed to start out in a beautiful office in the same building the housed The Safe Place to Grieve Foundation. The Program Director there became a close friend of mine and she supervised me for all my post-grad hours. In June of this year we found out that the building we were in was being sold and thus we would both be moving to a new location. Since that time many things have happened, and the final outcome is that my Practice has moved from Wethersfield to Newington and the Safe Place to Grieve Foundation is being dissolved. She is moving into a full time teaching position and I am expanding my Practice in the new location. Both great things...but both involve leaving something we love behind.
So many of us experience transitions and losses in life. It's part of the landscape of our journey. We have dips, we have pits, and we have climbs and peaks! Sometimes the road is rough, and sometimes it's smooth. We have to learn to navigate our way and most importantly...to TRUST THE JOURNEY! A few tips to carry with us as we journey forward.
1) We are NEVER alone!
2) We need to learn to ask for help and accept it when it's offered.
3) Always return to the breath...it helps us remain in the moment.
4) Leave the past behind us and don't anticipate the future...just be where we are now.
Those are good places to start! This next part of my journey will be exciting, challenging, fun, and tiring! All great things! They make me feel alive. One thing I know for sure is that I am blessed, and every day I be sure to remind myself of just how blessed I am. For that...I am grateful.
So, as I write this, I look down at the floor and see my furry little buddy right here by my side. He lifts his head as he smells the pizza that a family member is reheating. He looks at us with his beautiful eyes and just is. I am learning more and more from him every day and plan to share some of those lessons right here on this blog. I'll be in touch.
Until then...Trust the journey!