The Secret to Moving Forward

 

In the previous post, I told you about my friend, Sharon*, with the chronically sore wrist and upset stomach; how she’d asked me what I meant exactly by “listen to your body” and “talk to your wrist”. A few weeks later, I followed up with her and hit upon an important key for any kind of healing to work.

Sharon told me how she’d decided to try energetic healing; Reiki being one and another she’d heard about at a conference. She was comfortable with the concept of Reiki, allowing whatever emotional release or images or realizations to come up. The other technique, done over the phone and quick-acting was also touted as clearing blocks from generations of stuck emotions; this she had a harder time believing.

Was it the distance? The speed? The idea of having her great-grandmother’s frustrations lodged in her wrist that caused her to doubt?

It ultimately came down to the fact that she experienced shifts with Reiki and had no “proof” of the other thing working, other than the practitioner saying that she was “done”. Yet, in neither circumstance was there a moment when she consciously “heard” the exact nature of what’s irritating her body, nor a clear solution.

So, she brushed off any effectiveness. During our conversation, though, she kept saying that her stomach and wrist were feeling better, relating it more easily to new meds than anything else she’d tried.

Reminds me of a story that Louise Hay tells in one of her books, about a visually impaired woman who’d recovered her sight after working with Ms. Hay. She walked around for a week saying, “I can’t believe I can see,” and not surprisingly, by the end of the week, she was back to square one.

Like this woman, Sharon doubted the power of the energetic work.

That’s right. It comes down to faith. It comes down to trusting the process, whether you can see the end results or not.

 

Whether health-related or not, this is the same kind of resistance that holds us back when anything new presents itself in our lives. (Read here about the pain of transition.)

You fear the part you can’t see yet – what it’ll be like to live on your own or in a new city; what it’ll be like once your business takes off or your pain is healed. We get so used to how things are now. No matter how much we want them to change, or, no matter how much we feel our world’s coming to an end when the change is unexpected, we have a hard time projecting ourselves into the unknown territory on the other side.

We fear the unknown.

I get it. I was so scared of what splitting up would do to my kids, I was temporarily willing to fold myself back up into the unfulfilled ball I needed to be to stay in that marriage. I was so afraid of walking away from the support and old-slipper comfort of my life in one city, I fleetingly considered ending a second marriage to avoid having to move away.

My friend, in healing her wrist and stomach, will be letting go of the traumatic end to her own marriage. Staying locked in a place of “I have been a victim” has been the driving definition of her life for 8 years. By walking away from it all – by trusting the potential offered to her by her recent energetic sessions, she is saying yes to herself. She is saying yes to a part of herself that she has yet to discover. How exciting!

How scary.

No wonder she’d rather doubt and hold back.

As I learned by following the suggestions of healthcare practitioners over the years, as I learned by embracing life as a divorced mother, as I learned by opening myself to the possibilities of a new city, at a certain point, you have to trust where the road is taking you.

Consider that these changes in your life might be the answers to requests you made of the universe months or even years ago. You never know.

It’s quite possible that in signing up for the energetic work, Sharon was in some way listening to deepest needs.

How and What to Trust.

* When you ask for help, trust that what shows up is what you need in that moment.

When you choose to hire an expert, or read their book, or follow their blog, trust that she has the expertise and experience to get you where you need to go on this leg of the journey. She’s been where you are, she knows how to get you through.

Trust that she holds a vision of what’s possible for you, even if you can’t see it yet.

When you come upon a new experience, trust that is has gifts for you even if you don’t see them in the moment.

* Trust that you are safe.

Trust that your support system (the professionals, your friends, your family, your gods/angels/spirit guides) and your inner knowing all have your back, and will get you through this, no matter how long, no matter how hard.

* Most importantly, trust yourself.

“I can’t…, I don’t believe…, this never works for me,…” these are words of doubt and resistance; they will only become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Trust yourself to stay open to what happens. Even in listening to your own body’s wisdom, trust that wisdom…and trust your body’s capacity to heal.

Trust yourself to use the tools you’ve been offered. In any kind of healing – health, marriage, business, parenting,… – there’s always homework, action to reinforce the lessons and insights. Don’t question the validity of the exercise, simply trust that there’s a reason you’re being told to do something, even if it’s not immediately clear to you.

Trust yourself to do the work.

When you want and need to move forward into the unknown of your life, resistance will rear its fear-drenched head. Take a deep breath and trust.

* not her real name

What has held you back from moving forward with your health and your life? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

Any of your friends lost in the mud of transition? Send her this post using any (or all!) of these buttons.

Help! Things are Changing and I Don’t Know How to Let Go!

 

There comes a time when you’re moving from one phase of your life to another, when it becomes inevitable that something has to shift, and you become painfully restless.

You’ve hit that time when how you’ve been living your life becomes so uncomfortable, the thing you’ve been avoiding seems the better choice.

That’s transition.

It’s raw with emotion, it’s unbearable to be in your body, it makes you nauseous and it’s fucking scary!

Just like labour.

pain of transition

The first stage of labour is when your body works to open and clear the passage for the baby. When things are ready, you move from dilation mode to the 2nd stage: pushing that baby out into the world. Between the two you hit transition.

I remember so clearly from the birth of my 2nd son: I was so distraught with the pain, nothing I could do, no position I tried, helped. I hurtled myself aimlessly around the living room of our apartment, throwing myself onto the couch like the over-dramatic heroine of a bad Victorian novel. I crawled around on the floor begging for relief. With my 3rd, I secretly wished someone would whack me over the head with a baseball bat.

Why does it have to be so terrifying?

The fear is two-fold: partly it’s the inevitability of the situation. You’re at that point of no return – there’s been no going back from the moment that little embryo latched itself so snuggly into your womb.

What’s really scary, though, is that you’re barrelling full tilt into unknown territory and a life you never knew. Your life will never be the same again, for better or for worse. Even if you’ve had babies before, each one is completely different. Not to mention, women have died doing what you’re about to do.

In life, the point of no return happens with a commitment. Consciously or not, a seed starts to grow in your psyche – in your soul. A dream you want to fulfill, a relationship you know needs to grow or end, or the unavoidable metamorphosis of your body as it ages.

The decision to embrace and move forward with this transformation is no longer a choice. Scary and uncertain as it is, the one thing you do know is that the life you’re now living doesn’t feel right. Maybe it’s become a little too snug like that old pair of jeans you wear out of habit, or maybe the decision gets made for you when the rug got ripped out from under you.

Something’s got to give – you either buy a new pair of pants (consciously alter your life with a new career, listen to the little symptoms that have been nagging you to take better care of yourself, improve or leave your marriage) or the zipper blows out while you’re walking happily along a downtown street (you get fired, you have a health crisis, your husband leaves you for his young assistant).

Once that decision is made. Once you make that commitment, there’s no choice but to move forward into the unknown.

The pain of transition – in life as in labour – lies in the resistance to the process.

When delivering a baby, the wisest thing you can do at this point is get very quiet.

Turn inward, connect to the baby who’s likely just as freaked out as you are right now, and trust your resources to get you through this birth safely. You’ve spent months eating right and tending to your needs. You’ve read and listened and shared with friends and professionals. It’s time to trust your body and trust your midwife.

Resisting the pain of the movement you’re in and flailing around looking for some miracle solution only intensifies the pain.

All that resisting and flailing only dissipates your energy and puts you at greater risk of hurting yourself.

When giving birth to your new life, the wisest choice you can make is to focus inward, connect to the woman who will emerge from this chaos and trust that you have what it takes – in your body and heart, and trust in your support system. (Oh and breathe!)

When a woman comes to me for help, it’s because the status quo with her body has become too uncomfortable and she’s ready to take the necessary steps to renew both her physiology and her life.

My role in that regard becomes that of a doula. A woman in service of other women, offering practical advice and the emotional support she needs to move through the chaos of the transition safely. Using the language of her body as a guiding light, we access the needs and desires of her soul, to find the solutions for her body and her life. I hold her hand and stand witness to the process. You might call me a soul doula.

In the 3rd stage of labour – the afterbirth – a good midwife feeds the new mother a nourishing snack, full of the electrolytes and protein she needs for recovery. She will bathe her and let her sleep – the coming days and weeks will be a challenge, at least she will start out feeling held and ready to take it on.

Once you’ve landed in your new life, do the same.

Rest, recharge, eat nourishing food and find help where you can. The new road is long and may have a few bumps; allow yourself to start with a hand to hold.

If you want me to be that hand, click here and we’ll get started.

How Your Emotions Change How You Eat

 

In the last post, I wrote about a simple approach to making your meals healthier. Simple. That word is so deceiving. It means “easily understood”; it does not always mean easy to carry out. A simple decision might be easy, such as “I’ll drink a glass of water as soon as I get up.” Deciding to give up sugar or choose whole foods over processed is simple, however, if it were easy, people would just buy different groceries and I’d be out of work.

I’ll go a step further and say that “simple” holds a certain amount of wisdom and potential for growth behind it. Giving your kid a new limit, like no TV on Tuesdays, is simple, though requires you to stretch some of your parenting muscles, and him to exercise his creativity. Letting him watch because you’re tired today is easy, but may not be the best thing for him…or you…in the long run.

When you first introduce the idea, there will be resistance (aka a temper tantrum or two) until the new routine becomes habit. He’ll bend over backwards to negotiate a trade (“I’ll stay off on Wednesday”) or to convince you that letting him watch TV “just this one Tuesday” will be ok. While it’s important to hold space for those possibilities to come up, it’s best to stand your ground. You know from experience that if you hold firm for 10 minutes, he’ll back off and end up having a blast rediscovering the Playmobil he hasn’t touched in months.

Similar scenarios will play out in your head after you give up, say, sugar or dairy. You’ll have inner (or outer!) tantrums about how it’s unfair that you can’t have ice cream when all your friends are eating it. You’ll negotiate extra kale or a longer workout tomorrow, or promise yourself this will be the last bowl of ice cream you’ll ever eat in your entire life.

Like a good parent, you need to give those outbursts room to release. Maybe not by kicking and screaming in the middle of a restaurant, but in your journal, talking to a friend, or by dancing it off in your living room.

Once the storm has passed, this is the opportunity to explore neglected nuggets that might have gone unnoticed for months or even years. I’m talking about emotions and memories that get stuffed under that need for ice cream.

“I’m afraid I’ll never enjoy my food again.”

“I don’t want to burden my friends with my health issues.”

“I’m sad that I can’t eat what I want.”

“I feel like I’m being punished…like my body’s betrayed me…like it’s all downhill from here…”

Ah, now here are the forgotten toys – the parts of you that you shove to the back of your emotional drawer.

In my yoga class last week, we focused on hip openers. The teacher prefaced the class by reminding us how, as part of the second chakra, home of how we connect and relate to the world around us, the hips are the drawers where we dump all the emotional stuff we don’t want to deal with. Like the trinkets and old clothes that clog up your dresser, stuffed emotions block the internal feng shui of your body – unexpressed emotions clog up the flow of energy and movement in your life. No wonder we women end up with tight or arthritic hips!

Your intestines, as well as your uterus and ovaries, also sit in that same area of the body. What does that say about the women who show up in my office? Women with IBS, constipation, bloating & gas, menstrual pain, fibroids, infertility. Seems the hips aren’t the only place that collect our emotional junk for storage.

Beyond the brain-gut connection, this bit of energetic anatomy clarifies how emotions and food are so tightly linked. Incidentally, the stomach, liver and pancreas lie in the 3rd chakra – the seat of your will and anger – another potential hotbed of emotional turmoil mixed in with your eating habits.

Just as cleaning out the dresser breathes new life into your wardrobe and your home, giving those old emotions space to move up and out opens up your body and life to similar movement.

Perhaps April is a synchronous time for me to be preparing to put my house up for sale. The urge to spring clean has helped motivate my efforts. As I declutter and clean and sort and donate, I have the time to get curious about the emotions that surface: about leaving this place, leaving this city and everyone I know. There are days when I have to stop the work and just be with the sadness, the fear and anxiety. There are days when I plow through another closet. And some when I avoid it all by eating every sweet and starchy thing I can find in the pantry.

There’s another good word: avoid. A-void, void-less. In stuffing my face with cheese bagels and apple pie, am I trying to re-clog the space I’ve so diligently created?

I’ve done a lot of writing, a lot of crying, talking, singing, dancing, and I’ve supported myself through the pain with flower essences and body work. Perhaps it’s time instead for me to sit in that open space and allow possibility to unfold. Here goes… feels like I’m bored in my room with no TV…until I start to notice the “toys” around me.

The void morphs into a sacred space, where waits my love of adventure, my excitement about setting up a new house (I already catch myself playing mental doll’s house with some of the places I’ve seen online.), a clean slate for my work and a whole city full of friends and clients I have yet to know.

Without really trying, my urge for sweets has subsided and I’m ready to nourish the new life I’m about to create.

This type of work isn’t easy…you may have to face some harsh realities about yourself, or wade through some pretty nasty sludge. It starts with the simple act of giving the shadows in the corner room to breathe. It starts with the simple gesture of being gentle with yourself no matter what surfaces.

It starts with listening to your body.

What have you discovered about yourself as you make a food shift, or other life transition? Or where do you get stuck every time you try? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

Better Eating Habits Made Easy

“What the hell do I eat?!?”

Freeze frame on the woman in my office.

Deer in the headlights. Panic stricken.

A little over an hour ago, she walked in with a smile on her face. We exchanged pleasantries then she proceeded to tell me how the inflammation/hormones/lack of sleep is affecting her body and her life.

She walked me through a typical day, we talked about when things started to go awry, then we dove beneath the surface. We explored the ways her life situations contribute to her symptoms. We focused inward, listening to her body’s clues about what it needs.

Through it all, she followed my lead and answered my questions with curiosity and that raw honesty you bring forth when you’re committed to doing what it takes to fix this thing once and for all.

Then we got back to the practical side of things. The lifestyle shifts and food suggestions that will reduce her symptoms and help her body rebalance. This is when I explained how ___________ (gluten, dairy, sugar, refined food,…) are part of the problem and she’d do better to do without.

That’s the moment when the deer stepped onto the road. “There’s nothing left to eat!”

You’d think I’d just told her we needed to cut off her arm.

It’s the first reaction, isn’t it?

Regardless of what the doctor or the naturopath has explained, or despite test results that show a clear sensitivity to certain foods, a wall goes up.

Before you open your mind to the possibilities the changes present – among them feeling better! – the first thought is that there’s nothing left to eat.

It’s like when you take the same route home from work every day, then one day there’s a construction detour. Do you happily trust the detour signs to get you where you need to go, or do you go into panic mode because your routine has been sideswiped?

Resistance is the ego’s way of making sure you stay safe. Its definition of “safe” being “familiar”. If there’s one thing we all resist more than anything else it’s change – stepping out of the ol’ comfort zone and into the unknown.

Resistance also smacks of your inner teenager rebelling when she’s told No.

When it comes to food and eating habits, treading into the zone of resistance and rebellion is par for the course. Your brain, your gut and your emotions are hard-wired together more tightly than that tangle of string in your kitchen junk drawer. Pleasure, punishment, associations, comfort, control all balled up with fears and skewed needs for love and attention.

So, even if you’ve made a conscious decision to change the way you eat for the sake of your health, it takes a bit of time – and potential backsliding – to sort out the knots and get some new habits in place.

Sure I could jump in and give you a list of ways to replace the poor choices for better. You could browse the cookbooks at your local Indigo or Google x-free recipes and find more ideas than you’d ever have time to use.

Before you can go there, though, you need to make friends with that rebellious teen. Settle the panic from the inside so you have more success on the outside.

Rather than run with a list to the health food store, grab your journal and ask yourself the following 3 questions:

1. WHY are you making these changes?

The first response here might be “because the doctor/naturopath/osteopath told me to”. Maybe you’ve seen a friend have success with a particular eating style. Maybe you’re just trying the next thing on the list of trends that may fix your “thing” once and for all.

Which gets to the next layer of response: fixing your thing. Do you want to lose 15lbs, sleep better, have more energy, stop being in pain after every meal…?

Sure, those are all part of why you’re cutting out some of your favourite foods. Now look at why those things are important to you.

How will your life improve or be different after those pounds are gone? How will your parenting, marriage, career shift once you’re feeling better? What parts of your life are you putting off because of these issues?

2. WHAT’S preventing you from making the changes?

Perhaps it’s the practical steps that have kept you stuck. “I don’t know what to eat.” Fortunately, this one’s easily rectified thanks to books, the internet and professional advice.

What else is holding you back from getting closer to your health goals? I usually phrase this with clients as: What are the benefits to staying in this state?

Benefits to being fat, tired and in pain – is this woman insane?!?

Breathe into that question. Sit with how it makes you uncomfortable. You may even want to put it on the backburner for a day or two. Then come back to it. Gently.

Does the added weight keep you connected to your late father? Help you establish your place in the family or at work? Does your pain get you special attention? Does the lack of energy allow you to keep playing small?

There’s no judgment in what comes up here. No shame in understanding your motivations and beliefs.

Only once you see them can you determine if you still need them or if you can pack them up and send them on their way.

3. How do you want to FEEL?

What’s your dream solution?

How would you feel, how would you look, if the health issues were cleared?

How will you feel when those shifts in your life actually come to fruition? What are the actual sensations in your body when you’re living the life you want to be living?

I’ll bet there are variations of expansiveness, lightness, groundedness. I’ll also bet there’s a sense of safety, of feeling well in your own skin.

Whatever those sensations are, hang out with them and describe them to yourself or a partner until you know them in detail – the colour, the temperature, the texture, the image they remind you of. Notice how you sit and stand when you feel that way. Notice how you speak when you feel that way – both the words you use and the timber of your voice.

Let these sensations in your body become familiar. Let them permeate you with how safe & comfortable you are in that state.

Give the way you feel a name: Grounded Expansion. Blue Angel. River of Calm.

Now, set that as your intention. The Why of the changes you’ll make – dietary or otherwise.

Use it as your touchstone when the voice of panic creeps in to sabotage your efforts, or when your friends try to twist your arm to accept one small piece of fudge cake.

Ground back into your intention. Your safe zone. From there you can build new habits to help create and sustain that way of being on the outside. From there you can decide if, in this moment, a piece of cake to bond with friends is more important than the integrity of your digestive tract.

Holding the intention of who you want to be and why you want to be that person opens the door of possibility wide enough that the necessary changes no longer induce fear. They become almost effortless.

If you still need help with the details, by all means, get in touch. I’d be only too happy to guide you.

In the comments, tell us what your biggest block is when it comes to changing an eating habit. How did you overcome it, or do you still struggle with it? When you share your thoughts, you open the possibilities for others.

Know someone else who’s stuck making necessary changes to her eating habits? Send her this post using any (or all!) of these buttons.

The Beautiful Pain of Transition

Summer has just come ‘round the corner.

Some years it’s easy, with spring progressing mildly from underneath the dregs of winter to blossom into full leaf. This year, it’s been harder. Cold holding on much too long and now the endless rain that some days feel as if it’ll never stop.

As if Nature Herself is having a hard time moving from one state to the next.

Reminds me of my youngest son: even for an activity he loves, it can be like pulling teeth to get him to change his clothes or just put on his shoes.

What is it about transitions that make resistance dig in its heels so strongly?

It’s easy to understand when we’re being forced into a situation we never bargained on. The diagnosis, the cheating spouse, the car accident, the cutbacks at work.

We resist moving forward because it means letting go of what we love and need.

But what about when we transition into something positive? The promotion, saying yes to the proposal, buying that house by the lake, or the move to Hawaii.

Why, even as we run forward with open arms, does a part of us hold back?

Why is it, that just when you embark on that great thing you’ve always wanted, your body decides it’s time to get sick. Sometimes it’s a cold. Sometimes a chronic condition that’s been lingering in the background comes on full force. Why do you feel depressed when you should be elated?

It’s all about the lizard brain.

Your subconscious mind spends its time working for your survival. It picks up the cues and clues in your daily life to maintain the status quo. It’s been learning, since the moment you were born, to adjust and react to keep you out of danger.

That’s a good thing!

However, as soon as you decide it’s time to step away from the norm, even for the better, it’s like you’re suddenly on a tightrope over a bottomless chasm. At least, that’s how your lizard brain reacts. Whether by conscious choice or the rug ripped from underneath you, it can feel the same way.

You’re in unknown territory. You’ve taken a risk. From here on in, anything can happen.

How exhilarating!

And yet, how scary.

Resistance is the result of your subconscious’ attempt to keep you in the comfort zone.

It shows up in my office all the time. Most of the clients who come my way are in some sort of transition, whether they realize it or not.

Resistance shows up as anxiety in the young women getting ready for pregnancy. It shows up as the fear of aging in the women lost in a lonely empty nest. It shows up as insomnia, acne and constipation in the those navigating the weird and wonderful world of perimenopause.

Sometimes we brush these symptoms aside or put up with them because it’s “normal” to feel this way.

Some transitions are more subtle and yet the physical symptoms they engender can be quite present.

Women no longer able to keep silent around overbearing husbands. Women dissatisfied in their jobs. Women who’ve given up their own identities, wants and needs for the good of the family or for fear of rocking the boat.

Their bodies amplify the messages of their inner turmoil with pain they can’t ignore – often in the joints, uterus and intestines .

Resistance shows up as the stunned look I see when health conditions require a woman give up sugar or bread or wine.

The alchemy in my work really starts to happen when a woman connects to her body and understands how the symptoms are part of her communication system.

Where her story intersects with her pain is where the juicy stuff collects. The core of her case from which we can build solutions.

This is the opportunity for growth.

Watching a woman discover that point of decay, then metamorphose into a stronger, healthier, more beautiful version of herself is a joy to behold.

How can you embrace the necessary changes to get you from one phase into the next with a little more grace?

1. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

If there’s one way to get your subconscious out of the rut of what it believes to be your safe zone, it’s walking the edge and stepping across the line on a regular basis.

This doesn’t need to be sky-diving. It can mean driving home by a different route or ordering the fish instead of the chicken. It can mean making the first move with your man, being the one to phone a friend.

As your comfort zone expands, you’ll be better equipped to regain your equilibrium when the big stuff happens. You’ll approach any changes with the conscious experience of how the benefits outweigh the risks.

2. Acknowledge the risk it took to take the steps you did.

Of all the things I learned from one of my most brilliant teachers, the one that comes to mind most is the mantra, “I’ve been here before and I’ve survived.” Whenever I’m lost in the overwhelm of a new situation at work or nervous when my son doesn’t call on time, saying this reminds me that, no matter the outcome, I am ultimately safe.

3. Celebrate your arrival to the next level.

Buy yourself some flowers. Look in the mirror and say “Thank you”. Take a dance break.

4. Use your fear as a tool.

Fear (one arm of the stress response) causes us to fight, flee or freeze. In my case, it was usually one of the latter. And then I would wonder why I never got ahead in my life, never made the huge strides I see others enjoying.

The beauty of the fight response is that it requires you to take action. No longer fighting enemy tribes, this might look more like taking business risks. It might mean asking for the guidance you need to overcome a physical ailment. Or giving up the wine for a month for your own good. It might mean saying “I love you” or “I’m sorry”.

Nothing makes me feel stronger than having “faced the fear and done it anyway”.

Important aside: When you’re in the moment of a shift – whether intentional or that ripped-away rug – take the time to sit with your feelings (sadness, fear, anger) FIRST. Feel them so they can move on, and so can you.

5. Get support – friends, professionals, online chats. Find someone who can hold your hand along the way.

I’ve said this before and you’ll undoubtedly hear me say it again. I don’t know how I would have maneuvered the muddy worlds of divorce, asthma or working as a solopreneur without my friends and colleagues standing by me every step of the way.

What got you through your last transition? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

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