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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You’ve Got the Power!

Inspired by Judy Chicago, I’ve created a virtual dinner party: One category of my blog will be dedicated to honouring women who I want to be a part of my soul community. Each woman at my virtual table has a lesson to teach, even if it’s simply to inspire us with her ability to hold greater aspirations for ourselves than we’d ever thought possible. Each one will be a manifestation of the Goddess, a Wise Woman, a pilgrim on the road of the Sacred Feminine. I want to share the wisdom of these women as part of my community of support.

If I were to sum up most of the cases I’ve had in my practice over the years, I’d have to say that women come to me feeling like a greyed-out version of themselves and frustrated at unable to access the full-colour self they know and love.

This may sound really strange, but I get really excited when they come right out and say, “I don’t feel like myself.” It turns me on because that’s the moment of greatest possibility: these women know what they want…they simply need some direction to get there.

Let me explain.

Every time I watch The Wizard of Oz, I get a chill when Dorothy gets to Oz and this strange, technicolour world. She may be scared & confused, but her mind also quickly opens up to the opportunity for something she hadn’t quite imagined.

Glinda tells her she can get what she wants – to go home – and sets her on the path that will get her there.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) Directed by Victor Fleming Shown: Judy Garland (as Dorothy Gale) on the Yellow Brick Road, wearing the ruby slippers

The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Directed by Victor Fleming
Shown: Judy Garland (as Dorothy Gale) on the Yellow Brick Road, wearing the ruby slippers

Along the way, she finds others to accompany her, mainly because they too want something from the wizard, but she also learns valuable lessons that help in her journey. She discovers things about herself that she hadn’t considered before.

The first of which is trust: she trusts what the Good Witch has told her and heads out full of hope that she’ll get there.

The Wicked Witch, of course, comes along and tries to derail her efforts by playing on her fears. Sound familiar?

Maybe you don’t have someone throwing fireballs at you and your straw friends or chasing you with flying monkeys, but the prospect of stepping out of your comfort zone gives you pause, doesn’t it?

If there’s one thing we humans rail against (no matter the potential outcome) is change. It scares us as much as a fireball. Or we zone out as if we’d walked into a field of poppies.

In my office, it comes out as blanket statements like, “Make me better without having to give up my morning muffin and coffee routine. My cookies, my bread.” Or “I want to reduce my symptoms but I don’t eat vegetables.”

The other one I hear a lot, after I tell them what they’ll need to avoid is, “But there’s nothing left to eat!”

It’s that moment of panic when you’re not ready (or willing) to step off the edge of familiar.

And so you continue to wander aimlessly around the dark forest, looking for the wizard with the quick fix, because you don’t trust the yellow-brick road laid out before you.

Or, more likely, you don’t trust yourself to follow it.

emerald city

The one thing that keeps Dorothy putting one foot in front of the other towards the Emerald City – besides the fortitude of company and a few catchy tunes – is the fact that she keeps her eye on the prize.

She wants to go home, just as my clients want to return home to themselves, and she’ll do what she’s gotta do to get there. She even goes so far as to seek out the witch – confront her fears and discomfort directly – melting her into oblivion in the process.

At every step, she lets her desire for what’s possible outweigh the fears, the mishaps and hard work it takes to get there.

She discovers her determination and inner strength. The very energy that charge her ruby slippers with the super-power she had all along.

One of my super-powers is the ability to decipher the path that will get you from the B&W world of where you are to the technicolour place you want to be. You could say I’ve cast myself as the Good Witch in this particular movie.

And just like Glinda, I show up regularly to keep you focused on your goal when the way gets clouded with fear and uncertainty.

Do you have an image of what the technicolour version of your health and life look like?

Contact me today and we’ll figure out how to get you onto that yellow brick road.Free IC Button

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What’s for Breakfast?

Readers have been asking: “What’s the best way to start the day nutritionally?”
I’ve been having many conversations about breakfast with clients.
It’s time I wrote about the most important meal of the day.

It really is. Here’s why.

The way you start your day sets the stage for the rest of it.

Think about it:

How does your energy improve when you go for a run first thing?
How does your focus shift when you wake up with a few sun salutations?
How are your moods when you’ve meditated in the morning?

What happens on the days when you don’t feel like it, when you don’t have time?

What you eat at that time of day makes a difference as well.

Consider the client who came to see me about energy levels and about getting enough food to help her sustain a rigorous physical routine – she runs, does Pilates and martial arts. One of the first things she said to me was that breakfast is her favourite meal. She LOVES a full breakfast (eggs, sausage, toast or potatoes). She proceeded to tell me that she works out, then has a green drink “because it’s healthier”. I don’t know how it’s healthier if she can’t focus on work by 11, and she’s ready to eat her agenda by 3.

We have a tendency – because of time, health, lack of a.m. hunger – to skimp when it comes to breakfast. Sure a coffee and a bowl of cereal will get you out the door and through traffic to work. Once you get there, the small burst of energy will be done (and your blood sugar will drop) so you’ll need the next cup of coffee and/or muffin to keep you going.

Then, for the sake of your health – or let’s be honest, your waistline – you have “just a soup or a salad” for lunch, maybe with a bit of tuna or turkey. Come 3:00, you got it, the blood sugar takes another dive (naptime anyone?).

Let alone the meltdown you have when that thing you’ve been working on for weeks hits a major roadblock or your computer dies in the middle of a launch.

Then you start grazing the minute you walk in the door (I used to start with the lunchbox leftovers) and keep going all the way through supper prep, sometimes not stopping until you hit the sack. Feeling like shit and resolved to “eat less” tomorrow.

Yes, it has to do with healthwise choices (which I’ll get to shortly), but it also has to do with the mindset that goes into the planning and preparation of a decent breakfast. I make it pretty clear around here that nourishment involves much more than nutrition.

There’s more to your breakfast than a collection of nutrients.

For one thing, have you ever noticed that breakfast food tends to be pretty beige – cereal, toast, etc. The green drink craze has at least introduced a level of vibrancy to the morning.

Nourishing your body with a variety of colours awakens you at a different level. As I tell 5-year-olds, when you eat more colours your cells will be as happy as when you see a rainbow. To put it in more adult language, the colour of the food you eat will resonate with your chakras (the body’s energetic “rainbow” and emotional centres).

And that’s just one sort of sensual enjoyment you can get out of a meal. We tend to be one-hit wonders in terms of morning flavour as well: sweet. It’s quite stimulating to experience a bit of salty, a burst of sour, a hint of bitter, maybe even a touch of spice. When was the last time you took a bite of your breakfast and thought, “Delicious!”?

Taking the time to prepare and eat an adequate meal in the morning sends the message to your entire being that you’re worth the effort. Breakfast is an act of self-love.

And I’ll bet if you’ve taken the 15-20 minutes to cook a beautiful breakfast, you’ll want to sit down and enjoy it fully.

When you provide your body with the food it needs to efficiently get through the morning, you’ve set yourself up for success.

I had recently recognized that my own morning choice – usually the unconscious bowl of cereal (granted organic, gluten-free and bulked up with seeds and dried fruit) – wasn’t cutting it when it came to getting me through the day. I often ate lunch at 10, then needed a 2nd one at 2. I knew I had to make a change.

Synchronicity brought my attention to an online breakfast challenge (Laura Hames Franklin’s Superhuman Breakfast). I’ll admit, it took a few days of resistance to get me through the initial commitment, but the difference it made to my day was instantly remarkable.

Since making the commitment to eat well in the morning, I can sit down and work at my desk without visions of sugary snacks distracting my writing. I can be present for several clients or teach a whole class (often talking about food) without my stomach rumbling from any lack.

Without the requisite blood sugar drop that comes with the standard muffin or green smoothie, your moods stay on an even keel. You can now cope with whatever the day brings with grace.

Imagine: no embarrassing rumbling, no slump, no need for a cookie (or 3) mid-afternoon, a good night’s sleep and enough energy to get up in the morning.

Sure, I’ve adapted what I learned to suit me more fully, but the basics have been established in my mind as the way to go.

The recipe:

  1. A full, colourful, warm, delicious meal.

In nitty-gritty terms, you want to make sure that your morning meal makes up 25% of your daily calorie intake. Include protein, complex carbohydrates and a fermented food for ease of digestion.

If you’re trying to cut down on animal protein, this is the meal to eat it!

(Enter your email in the blue & orange box below to receive more details, the reason each part is so important and a handy PDF to pin to your fridge.)

  1. Play with your food.

OK, you know I don’t mean finger-painting in your porridge.

I mean play around with different foods, new ways of preparing old favourites. What happens in your day if you have an egg along with your green drink? What happens if you have a sweet potato instead of toast? How would you feel after eating another helping of last night’s casserole or a bowl of the lentil soup you just warmed up for your kid’s thermos?

My friend Sue Ann runs an online community called Chocolate for Breakfast. Whether you literally eat chocolate for breakfast or not (she does!), it engenders the idea that all of our meals need to be infused with pleasure.

What works for YOU?

You should have seen the look of relief on my client’s face when I gave her “permission” to eat a full breakfast again.

Bon Appétit!

Now I’ve got a challenge for you:

In the comments, share your fave breakfast & whether it works for you. THEN, spend a few days playing around with different options and let us know what you’ve discovered. When you share your thoughts, you open the possibilities for others.

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To help you get going, I’ve made a PDF to post on your fridge: the basic recipe (and why each element is important) + suggestions and room for you to add a few ideas of your own.

Inner Strength at Work

I’m so blessed. Really I am.

After a year of seeking a certain kind of abundance, I find myself surrounded by riches beyond my imagining. And for that I want to officially thank the Divine Universe.

Inner Light

If there’s one thing I’ve learned that I have by the bucket-load, it’s inner strength. The capacity to do and be more than I ever thought possible.

That said, I’m going to backtrack a bit.

When I first started this blog, back in July, I wrote about the importance of being comfortable. Of course, that was important at that time, because I was swimming in new waters. Exploring completely unknown territory, and needing some sense of familiarity to keep me from feeling lost, or like I was drowning.

It became quickly apparent through the Fall, that the new structures I’d put into place were not having the effects I’d hoped for (more clients). I may be talking about my business, but these same words come out of the mouths of the women who seek my holistic health services.

They cut out the carbs and do some yoga, but those extra pounds refuse to leave. They still have to drag themselves out of bed in the morning, or they’re still curled up in pain every month.

From either perspective, we’re still working from the idea that if we build it (superficial structures), they (desired results) will come.

Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to find myself a business coach to help me rethink those structures and get me back on track. What I hadn’t expected was that it would be hard.

Ok, the tasks themselves aren’t difficult – in fact, they’re dead simple. What surprised me was the resistance. My laser of a coach was zoning right in on the parts I’d been systematically avoiding for the last 6 months, and my inner toddler, close to tears, stamping her feet, screamed, “I don’t wanna do that!”

The coach was asking me to take a step outside of my comfort zone. Because I blogged about this topic in the summer as well, you’d think I’d done this already – which I did! Honest! The fact is, to grow, you need to do it again & again. They don’t call it growing pains for nothing.

Not surprisingly – because the Universe likes to send messages in multiple formats to make sure you get them – I had a similar experience with one of my clients last month.

She prefaced our session with, “I still haven’t achieved X.” We then spoke for the full 75 minutes about where she’s stuck, what she has accomplished, and me giving her several ideas for where to go next. At the end of which, she said, “I don’t feel like I’ve gotten anything today.”

Fact is, she was in  such a state of resistance, she hadn’t heard anything I’d said – her mind hadn’t allowed it in. Her heart hadn’t received it, nor the gratifying “A-Ha!” that usually accompanies her shifts.

(The happy ending to that story is that I bumped into her the other day, and she told me she’d tried what I’d said, and it helped.)

Of course, I want my clients to feel comfortable and secure during our sessions. However, it’s also my job to nudge you towards new sections of the road you’ve not considered, or that you’re sidestepping because they’re dark and seems to have a dangerous drop off one side. It’s why women hire me. I’m here to light the way and hold your hand.

Which is exactly what my business coach (my homeopath, my yoga teacher, my husband,…and, well, life really) is (are) there to do.

And how does inner strength fit in here? It shows up as the commitment to the intention, as the core that holds me firm when I’m out on a limb.

It’s all part of the Sustainable Expansion I’m going for in 2014.

*****   *****   *****

One result of my work with the biz coach is that I’ve opened my doors to give free 30-minute initial consults. It’s a way of diving in and asking you to examine what’s working for you healthwise, what isn’t, and seeing if there’s a way that I can guide you to a new level of vitality.

Free IC Jan 14

The one catch is that it would require you to climb up out of that comfortable rut to see what’s possible.

If you have questions, or to set up a time together, click here.

Other than that, I’d love to hear, in the comments below, the ways that you’ve already stepped out of your comfort zone (in any area of your life) and been pleased with what you discovered there.

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