Trauma & SOUL

Trauma can honestly make you scared of your own soul.

I've seen it deeply, and I've experienced it myself.

When you've experienced trauma, or have a "trauma-brain," you exist in a primary state of fight or flight (1). This also means that you are constantly protecting yourself (2). This leads to the denial of self & soul (3).

1) Now, I'm talking to more of you than you think. I'm talking to the masses. In our culture, we are existing somewhere close to fight or flight most of the time, unless we're consciously not (by intentionally breathing, practicing embodiment, healing the soma/energy/mindset/the whole).

Trauma can be acute or it can be longterm, and while I won't write all that here, I invite you to consider that if we live in a society that requires the consistent output of cortisol, that that in and of itself is traumatizing. In fact, the body's systems react as if that is so. This can look like anxiety or panic attacks or adrenal fatigue, or depression, for example, because we just can't "keep up" with the implicit demands of the culture.

2) When the brain is in fight or flight, oversimplified, all of your resources are going to survival.

Survival.

What are the implications of that in our relationships?? The implications are astoundingly vast.

That means we are NOT connecting, not allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, not able to create connection.

3) Denial of self & SOUL

Holy shit, I wish I didn't have to write this. It's so damn sad that we do this.

When we imagine that we won't be safe in this world (for whatever reason, because our brain is habitually patterned to this belief), and also believe we need to protect, our energy is also not going into the cultivation of SELF, which is SOURCE. Our own soul is the source for all the knowledge, all the safety, all the wisdom we truly need. Having a relationship with the soul is an incredibly safe foundation, and yet we often run from the soul while we're running from the conditions of life. We don't realize we're abandoning our own self/soul.

At this point, it is dangerous, in my opinion, to turn to Spirituality in and of itself, because this bypasses the *traumatized body system* that carries the beliefs in the cells.

So, someone can be highly spiritualized, however, still be running. From everything. From themselves.

The answer, in my opinion, is creating safe spaces for us to allow space for all the truth, even the trauma, while bringing the body on board and cultivating connection - first with self, then with other.

This is central to how I support my clients. If this speaks to you, please send me a private message now. I am taking a few clients now who are truly ready to turn lovingly but wholeheartedly toward their patterns of protection and disconnection. When you do that, your system relaxes (comes out of fight or flight), you cultivate Self love, you are clearer on what you really want, are more boundaried, and so much more able to CONNECT! (As in, for example, a love relationship! This is the very stuff that cultivates ultimate depth and connection.)

Keep going. On YOUR journey. Let me know if I can support.

I love you.

s

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The way I create.

Two years ago, I had a premonition that I would have another baby. I was single at the time, had a seven year old son, and my daughter, who had been adopted (by someone else) at birth was 16. So twice, I'd gotten pregnant and given birth without being married.

(And then I got married. And then I got divorced.)

I had a lot of old pregnancy shame. Because if you look at that side of the story - two unplanned pregnancies, one child living at home, starting having babies at the age of eighteen, now divorced - I looked to the outside like a bit of a shit show. Perhaps. Perhaps not. But at the time, I cared, and my thought as I had this premonition was, "Wait, three babies, 17 years apart, three daddies?"

Good grief. (Insert self judgement.) 

As premonitions go, I am not exactly sure where it came from or where it's going.  

Part of me would have loved to have had a third baby, with the man of my dreams, living happily ever after after, finally. That was actually a fantasy at one point. 

I did have a miscarriage last August. It started while I was on the last day of silent retreat at the Garrison Institute. I realized the day before that my boobs hurt, and then I cried while reading a table tent in the kitchen and thought, "Oh fuck. Boobs, moved to tears with these advertising words of nourishment. I could be pregnant." And then, the nausea started. Deep nausea, and the blood, and then, then I had to get into a car with a driver and get a flight from JFK out to Seattle for a friend's wedding. And I was sick. 

The driver that showed up was from the Bronx. Tatted and rough, the defended sort. I got into the hot back of his smokey car and immediately had no idea how I was going to make it through this car ride. Halfway through pregnant and not. And he said, "nice lines," pointing to the tattoos poking out of my sleeve. Sweet relief. 

Brother had never sat his ass on a cushion at the Garrison Institute, though I was there for an educator's training and he knew a thing or two about failures in education and articulated them with heart. We started to bond. I told him I was sick, that I would need to stop. He escorted me off the bumper to bumper freeway, and through the Bronx, knowing where to stop. He escorted me into the doughnut shops and gas stations and he stood by the door making sure I was safe. He invited me into the front seat. I took it that was a big deal and sign of respect. He knew what was going on. 

I wish I had gotten his name and number. When I told my then-partner about it, he said he was likely an angel, in his Jesus-loving heart. 

I was in a relationship with a man with a Jesus-loving heart. I totally loved him. And that would have been the sweetest-skinned, plump little baby I could ever imagine, but that was not the fulfillment of the premonition. 

We were in a silent relationship, meaning it was kept secret, as he was going through a divorce, and after this oops, he said, "I would have let everything come out if you were pregnant." Huh? I should have walked away right there, but I suppose there was more to learn (like, a fuck ton more to learn). You would have loved me out loud if there was an accidental pregnancy outing us? Thanks but no thanks. Not the love I'm looking for. 

And exacerbation of old pregnancy shame, none the less, and fear of acceptance, and fear of failure. 

Why do we allow our creations, the things that want to leap forth in this world, be judged through the eyes of general expectations, when those are not healthy in the first place? 

Why am I talking about this other pregnancy now? I don't know. It's pouring out of me, and, I set out to write a different blog post, actually, so I'm going to reroute. 

Last July, 2017, I had a business baby. I birthed Embodied Breath into the world. I sat at that same place in Garrison NY (go to the Garrison Institute, holy shit) and purposefully traveled a day early in order to sit a day to myself and get in touch with this Embodied Breath baby and what she was all about. I was still a school director/designer/teacher, and this baby of my Soul was tugging at my sleeve, saying, "Make me. Create me. Love me. This is your path." 

I sat in the window seat of the third floor library in the empty Garrison Institute and closed my eyes. The intention was to devote that day to hearing what Embodied Breath had to say. It was raining, and I sat in that window seat with the rain and opened my laptop and out she poured. Out she poured and didn't want to stop, so thankful, apparently, for the opportunity to be seen and heard. 

My coaching platform was born that day, this breath-based guide for personal transformation, and I love this story of how she was birthed. I don't do things by the book. I don't do things in order. I don't have coaching certifications, though I do have loads of credentials, and allowing her to be birthed in the mess of life instead of going out and making it perfect first was the perfection of this birth.

It's stories like this that make me trust in the unfolding. 

Stories like the perfection of that day in the library and even stories like the perfection of that divinely supported car ride to the airport. 

All of it. 

Stories like I got pregnant at eighteen and I got pregnant again at twenty seven and stories like I still never, never felt good enough. 

All perfection. Because here I am. 

When you do things out of order in this world, the judgement is fierce. I'm thick-skinned and resilient because I felt I had to be, but fuck, that was to protect the shame that I had already allowed in. 

And then this year, my business baby was in the world. And I was still working as a school director/designer/teacher, and things went to shit there. My business baby really disrupted the hopes of others that I would be there for a longer time, and then I knew in my heart that I had to leave my job before I thought I would. I had to leave and and be with my business baby and make a go of her. 

So I see now that I tried to force her to grow up a bit fast. I wanted her to be bigger than she was, before she was. And I wanted to look like I wasn't fucking up, wasn't failing. 

Was I? I was even confused at times.

My dad sure thought I was, trusting a birthing process instead of a steady paycheck. 

I would turn inward, consistently, consult Soul and Her and the course of life itself. "Am I on the right path?" 

Yes. Every time, yes. Every time. 

I do things out of contemporary order. I do things that I feel called to do. And, it doesn't always look clean. But when you birth with Soul, you birth beauty. I am more sure of this now. More confident. 

This week, on another retreat, I walked a labyrinth. I had learned this summer that the labyrinth was actually affiliated with the Sacred Feminine at the time it (labyrinth) was first conceived, and so I entered it as if it itself were a womb. I entered it a woman whose womb has birthed, whose spirit and Soul have birthed, and who sometimes needs a reminder that this path of trust is a birthing process in and of itself. 

I stepped forward on top of that mountain, one slow step at a time, a dragonfly circling me, the sun setting, and I heard these needed words, "Your babies are beautiful. Your babies are not ever the source of shame. Your babies are thriving. You do not birth failures and you are not a failure. You birth beautiful creations. Beautiful creations. Look at them. They are smiling. They are happy. They are playing. They are strong and full of Soul and you know it. You create Soulful and important contributions, not failures. When have you failed? Look at them. They are thriving." 

And this woman's womb felt wrapped by that mountain Herself. I got to the tree that stood in the center, pulled up my skirt, and offered her my own blood. 

It is from here that we create. We birth. This messy place of body and Soul. 

My babies are in the world, my blood is still flowing, my Soul is speaking. I have much more to birth. Happy first birthday, Business Baby, Embodied Breath. You are here with a big mission. A big purpose. I gave my first baby the middle name Faith. I'm reminded now more than ever why that name Faith had beckoned me forward in the first place. 

 A photo from that labyrinth day. You can see the Soul intensity in my eyes. Soul Fire 2018! 

A photo from that labyrinth day. You can see the Soul intensity in my eyes. Soul Fire 2018! 

 

 

Mirror love

To the older woman in the coffee shop just now, with the tight lips when you looked at my bare shoulders and black tattoos in judgement, I love you.

I love you to the heart of your judgement. I love you, the pure, true, compassionate kind of love. Because I know that to purse your lips and look down your nose at me, for standing comfortably, means that you do not. And dear, sweet woman, I know what that means. 

You have shut something off in yourself, of living, of feeling, and for that, my heart reaches out of my chest, aching, and sends you love as you walk out the door. 

To the young husband last night at the show, so embarrassed of your loud, drunk wife, I felt how many times you allowed your eyes to attract to the mystery of me, and I love you. I love you to the heart of your struggles, I love you to the heart of the temperamental and rigid sex you all are having, I love you to the center of your "I know there's something more."

If I can remind you of that, I will. 

I will. Not with fury or flaunt or directives. No. 

By being. By being, I invite. By being, I mirror. 

It's actually my superpower. (Wink.) 

To the wide-shouldered, long-haired, tender-hearted warrior man that I most recently loved. You have been in my heart these days - my bursting, expanding, ripening heart, - and I love you, too. I love you for the places you couldn't go, for the invitation you couldn't accept, I love you. I love you with my compassionate heart because I know that when you rejected my mirror, you rejected the part of the mystery you just couldn't go to. 

I'll pause my writing and breathe. This is tricky territory. The assumption will be that I am judging, and hear me, I am not. 

What I am saying is, my soul loves your soul, dear one. And as it was that that time, I was invested in the reflection, I also see that I was offered so many gifts in your rejection. To be able to stay in that place of safety for and with you would have meant the denial of my own next steps. It would have meant that I was not standing here now. I love where I am now, and I love you for your role in it. Thank you. 

I send you love in the mystery of how your soul must be unfolding. And I trust, I trust, and I send love. 

This is the opportunity of soul union - authentic reflection. Regardless the depth of time or investment - a coffee shop moment or while we watch beautiful music a few rows from one another, or if we allow ourselves to actually drop into the passion of opening bodies and hearts and love. The opportunity for the mirror always exists. The opportunity to go deeper always exists. It always exists. 

And oh my god do I love the depths. 

My soul loves your soul. Each of you. When we talk, or when we pass, however long our meeting, I see your soul. I see the heart of you. I see the places you want to go and the potential. The invitations you will and will not accept, but I love you unconditionally.

All of us. 

I accept that I am the mirror. I accept that you are too. Because all I want is truth. 

 

 

My name is Sarah Poet

My name is Sarah Poet. 

I have been a long time waiting, stalling, anticipatory, fearful, cultivating, arriving.

Arriving, arriving.

The time is now to name myself. 

Shoemaker is a fine name, and my son carries it, as does my ex-husband. He is a fine man, but the name is his, not mine. Reinholt was my father’s name. I held it for a long time. Names carry so much, and therefore cultivate and carry so much in us. They can stagnate us, cause us to carry stories that no longer serve. 

My name is not an act against men, against Patriarchy, hear me now. It is not an act against, but an act for.

My claiming my name is to hallmark and celebrate the reclamation of this female mind, body, and soul. All three equally important. All three vital. All three alive and hungry to grow into the greatness of this name. 

I am Sarah Poet, and I have been all my life. She is the little girl with skin in the sun, silently collecting rocks, knowing this was her name. She is the daughter and the wife, all along. She was the whisper I always heard, and sometimes ignored. She is the woman who healed, the woman who walked forward, the woman who showed up for every soul opportunity because it is not an option. It is true that She will become more than I can even imagine now. But She also presents an ongoing and living invitation that I vow to answer. 

She is a channel. She is a Soul, alive and eternal. She is MY soul. She is a Creatrix and the Divine. She is this flesh, reclaimed, this body, my own. She is mystical and witchy. She serves and leads, she is both fierce and tender. She is the fire and the water. She is space holder and guide. She is knowing and she listens. She gives and receives, penetrates and welcomes. She is hungry for real life. She has a story to tell, that reaches and recollects much farther and wider than this space and time. 

She is mine. I am hers. She is the mountain and the water, the ocean and the serpent. She is the body and the sex and the Mother. She is wise and I honor her. 

I would not change a thing about all that lead me to Her. In fact, I do believe I chose it all, to arrive in this very place. So when She presented herself this month, in this powerful time in history, at this spectacular season in my life, what could I do but honor Her and bring Her in? To deny Her now is out of the question. To allow myself to own Her is to signify that I answer the call of my own Being. 

I stepped my bare body into the Ivy River, walked to the center. Stood in the heat of the Sun, the Woman between the Feminine Earth and the Masculine Sun, I sat my body into the rush of water, first feeling the choice presenting between resistance and surrender, and choosing to experiment with both. And then surrender. I went under. A baptism. A reunion. I sat up Her. Poet. Embodied and Eternal. 

I put a river stone in my mouth and tasted the Earth. I sat in the sand and the water massaged the flesh of my belly. I gathered a bouquet as I walked back up the path, and I offered it out to all women. Throughout time, space, and dimension. 

All of life is an invitation. There is an invitation much older than this time, and when we answer, we walk back to ourselves. It is mysterious and painful and the most fucking beautiful path. I know this to be true. She knows this to be true. She beckoned me ever-forward and I am in service to Her. 

Each Woman who answers this ancient call rises, simultaneously stronger and softer, and each Man who answers this call does the same. And each Human who walks back to themselves does so for the encouragement and healing of the collective, of that I am sure. 

On this path, along this path, we lay down what has harmed us, traumatized us. We stop pointing. We recognize the pained places and learn to be tender with ourselves. We recognize that no one did this to us but us, and that the opportunity to be fully human is in front of us. We experience the forgiveness and rebalancing of both masculine and feminine forces within us.

Within us. 

This is the call of the Soul, of the heart, of all that came before and all to come after, of community, of life, of Earth and elements, of love and of truth, of authenticity and emotion. It is the only call worth answering, the only truth worth walking. This, the path of Sovereignty. 

Reclamation. Of life itself. 

In love, I am Sarah Poet. I am eternally humbled and grateful to be here now, like this, tasting this life, feeling and leaning in, and baring my ancient soul, in an invitation and plea that you feel safe enough to do the same. 

I welcome you, I dance for you, I offer you this bouquet. But the invitation is truly not mine to make. It is for each of us to listen for and walk our lives toward an answer. The whole of our lives and our Being-ness. 

Much love, 

sp 

 

 

 

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My Power

If I stand in my power, what does it do to yours?

If you pause and notice, when you look at this picture, what is your reaction? You are free to share below, but only after you have reflected on what I am about to say.

Whatever your reaction, it is about you.

If you want to congratulate me for standing in my power, it is about you.

If you want to shame me for standing in my power, it is about you.

If you want to put me down and imagine that I am not in my power, it is about you.

If you feel threatened by my power, it is about you.

If you want to fuck me in my power, it is about you.

Do you want to go toward or run from?

Does your heart open or restrict?

This is information about you.

As I step further and further into my sovereignty, the projections are fascinating.

As I show up as a sovereign woman with something of value to offer, some have a personal need to exert power-over knowledge.

My power is fucking beautiful. It is mine. I am happy to share it, but you have to come with your own clear heart. I’ll meet you there. I’ll inspire you there. I will listen to you there. I promise you, I will be as clear as I have ever been and you may not have met many like me before. But if you bring your projections, love, I’ll have to call you on it. Because I just won’t hold them anymore.

I am here to love and to live in truth. I am here to honor my soul and to be of service to you as you do the same.

How we each react to the “other” is but a reflection of ourselves. As we learn to open to this way of living, we notice and observe how we tend or need to respond to how others show up.

Notice that reaction, and notice what it’s here to ultimately teach you. I am over here watching my own, I promise you.

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June-iversary

I wasn’t an awesome wife. Maybe my intentions were good, but I wasn’t actually very good at it.

I wanted things from him, but I didn’t actually believe in him. How shitty is that?

We had a baby after nine years together, got married when he was one, and divorced four years after that. I deeply appreciate the time we spent together, as tricky as it was. June is the anniversary of our marriage ceremony, and we separated on July 4th - “Independence Day,” he joked.

Every summer, late June, I go to the farmer’s market and buy a big bouquet from the farmer who provided the flowers for our wedding - sunflowers and poppies and amaranth. I bought this bouquet this week, and then tonight, I was reminded that I hadn’t been the best wife. We do a lot right as co-parents, and sometimes, we still find ourselves in a stand-off. Old patterns die hard.

With these flowers, I honor it all.

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What he doesn’t know, what he may never know, is what a different woman I am now. I walked into therapy (who am I kidding - I collapsed into therapy while the adrenal fatigue took hold and the dam of emotions broke) that first October. What I said to her was, “I never want to be that kind of woman again.”

I knew that I had been wrong in so many ways, but what was playing out in my marriage was my own belief in my own inadequacy. My need for safety went so deep, from so much untreated trauma, that I was grasping and bossing and forcing, trying to make it so. Trying to make safety and completeness happen. It doesn’t work that way.

I was emasculating. I had seen generations of women do the same thing and I didn’t yet know another way. I wanted him to go out and earn more, but I was the primary income earner, and I resented him for it. When he asked me why I was never satisfied, I never considered that I could be satisfied with the resources we had - I always wanted more. As a teacher and avid researcher, I told him how to parent. He stayed home two days a week with our child and loved it, but I wanted him to go out and provide for us differently. I didn’t appreciate him enough. I didn’t stop what I was doing when he got home from work at 9:30 and go greet him. I didn’t ask him to bed.

I had been striving for “enoughness” since forever, and since my first child was born and placed into adoption when I was nineteen. At that point I took up striving as a way of life, and that poor man, I just drug him along. I was really serious about getting things done. And I wanted him to be too.

My mother in law, a few years ago, said this gift of a thing to me when I was feeling terrible about how I hadn’t loved him right. She said, “Don’t ever forget that you both said yes. Your souls both said yes.”

I can’t think of what I was trying to do in that marriage other than get it right, and forever getting it wrong.

We had grown up together, from middle school on. We were hippie friends in high school, he drove me to Warren Wilson College during our last year of high school and we both fell in love with it - I went but he didn’t. He held my hand when I was a pregnant-too-early teenager (who’d left WWC) and we went to see the Allman Brothers, even though this was not his baby. We had fun when we were younger. At one point during the divorce he said, “I knew who you were on the inside. I always thought you’d remember, and I was waiting all this time for her to come back.” But after my daughter was born, I just spent my life living as though every action had to prove I was enough - enough to be a mother again, enough to prove my worthiness. And so, that was the pressure I held over him too. I had stopped having fun by the time I was 20 years old.

I did remember, who I had been. Ironically, (or not, as life works this way), it was in the backyard of Warren Wilson College where we lived the years our son was a toddler that I began to come back to myself. It took walking out of that old life to remember it, though. I started to change and remember, and I suppose our marriage couldn’t survive it. Or that’s just one side of the story. One day I’d like to hear the other version.

I celebrate June 26th, for what we tried to do, for all we tried to do, by buying these flowers and honoring the journey. I also bake a pie on his birthday, like his grandmother taught me, though I mostly eat them myself.

I’m grateful, and I’m sorry, and I’m completely satisfied with life as it is, all at the same time. The past four years have changed me in a way that only this exact path could have. I have arrived, over and over again, to deeper understandings of love. Each man on the path the next soul to help ignite the next-layer-deep of me. Re-dedicating myself, a thousand times and more, to honoring my soul’s journey. Trusting that what I am living is the exact right thing to be living, and that there’s always some learning left to do.

I am no longer the woman I was in my marriage, even if he remembers me that way. And then I stare over at the flowers, fresh and not the exact flowers of my wedding day.

New. Vibrant. Here. Now.

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June 2010

In it: The Evolution of Purpose

I have one Master’s degree in Special Education and another in School Administration. My entire career, I loved the “tough” kids and worked primarily in the behavioral/social/emotional support realm. I love adolescents and their inherent mystery as they individuate. I have trainings and certifications in mindfulness and trauma. I can run a school, relatively easily, and I work with only the most innovative educational modalities.

And then I walked away from it all. It wasn’t as though I ran away from it all, it was more as though I walked toward the calling that is Embodied Breath. It started to knock at my door, this soul’s calling, about eight months after I’d created a school. It felt early to walk away from that project, but I began to name it publically by last summer as the school turned a year old.

The process of naming this and walking toward it has been a combination of faith and fear the entire way. I absolutely have the skill and resume to excel in the field of education, and yet, I am not on a journey of career ladder ascension anymore; I am on a journey of purpose. And after a while, the academics, to me, were a distraction. There is soul work to be done. I only wanted to work with the heart and soul of students, and did not have enough interest in the academics to really serve any school wholeheartedly anymore.

You know what I was really good at in education? Getting a pissed off kid to soften to the truth of the hurt under their anger. I was really good at seeing through an act of aggression to the true heart’s desire underneath. I was really good at showing kids that they had an ally, that they were believed in. I was really good at helping to break the cycles of shame that kids who struggled felt as they were told, day after day in classroom settings, how wrong they were, such that they had begun to believe somewhere along the line that they themselves were bad. I was good at sitting with kids and helping them to identify how it was that they were going to continue to put one foot in front of the other such as to reach toward just the next part of their goal, and I was great at helping them anchor in their success when they made it. I incorporated mindfulness, gratitude, even quantum-style meditations that showed them it was possible for them to shift their mindset and shift their felt perspective.

I never fit into any mold, and did things out of the box my entire career. Here I am now - no box.

A few years ago, I was a school administrator, and there was a struggling student that had become the one student taking up 90% of our time, as she was struggling severely. In a meeting, I said what I felt that she needed, which was outside of the scope of how a public school could respond, and I was criticized for often taking “intuitive leaps.” I’ll never forget that day. I felt the judgement of the criticism, but actually knew that it was a strength of mine. Five months later, I would be proven right as this child took the road I’d predicted.

Intuitive leaps. They have a place. I know that now.

Sit a person in front of me, allow me to feel, engage, and assess how they feel, believe, and act, and you know what? I’ll nail it. Most of the time, I’ll simultaneously see the big picture, backward and forward, and have a spot on recommendation. I’ll at the very least give a solid suggestion and start a conversation, and it will be one that engages on a real, human level. I engage more deeply than most.

I walked away from the structure of education, walked away from a paycheck and predictability, to follow my desire to create a thing where I directly serve the hearts and souls of my clients.

Hearts and souls. That is the work. So many hearts and souls are suffering their own experiences of disconnection and perceived inadequacy. It truly comes down to those two things in my book.

Is this life coaching that I’m doing? It’s bigger than that. I don’t know what to call it, and I won’t know yet, because the truth is, it is still being shaped.

My heart longs to do the deep work of healing human connection. A man reached out to me a few weeks ago and said that he just imagined, having watched me on Facebook, that I could see his true nature, hold him accountable, and help him to succeed toward his goals. He said he was always average and wanted to feel what it felt like to excel. He wanted to get organized to start a business and wanted help with confidence and accountability.  I had zero doubt, immediately, that I could help this man. It was as if he were a grown up version of how I’d supported my students, but here he was, so ready. You show up like that in front of me, and I’ll put my everything into supporting you. Heart and soul - mine and yours.

When we go to school for career preparation, follow the rules of progression, which I did for quite a time, the path is laid before us. I started looking at the payscale of teachers a few years ago - an assumed reality of every single person participating in the public school system - thinking, “Are you kidding me?” Why is this okay? Why is there an assumption that this is all there is? I’m not saying I do this work for the money, I AM saying that we don’t often question why we participate in the given structures. It’s often not a box I’m looking to fit into.

The truth is, when your soul calls, there may not be a box already designed for you.  I remember this same feeling of “this doesn’t make sense” when I was sitting in the guidance counselor’s office as a high school senior, being asked to choose a career. Why choose a box? It just doesn’t make sense. I tried to choose, I did. And it served me well. But I’m saying, it wasn’t for me.

Is it logical to walk away from a paid position? I don’t know. It’s not logical in the sense that it’s not linear and it’s certainly not the norm. But is it logical to work in a job your entire life while your soul is beckoning something bigger? I say no. That is not a logic that I can agree with.

I’m in this in-between space, where my heart is grieving - not the leaving of a career, but a deeper level of realization now, three months later, that I am truly leaving it behind. And at the same time, I am stepping into an unknown, which is fear-inducing, to be true. It is also exciting, meaningful, and tests every bit of faith that I have. It actually requires new levels of expansion as I traverse both faith and fear.

If we live and work in soul purpose, and we answer a call, I am assuming that there is support to live in that kind of bravery, that kind of alignment. But there is no assuredness. This is incredibly shaky at times. I look to examples of others and listen to their stories. I watch the synchronicities and I watch what happens when I take action out of pure intention and alignment with Purpose. Purpose with a capital P. It sounds magical and it is. And it feels a lot more true than what happens within the walls of a school. To say that breaks my heart for children.

I’m in this in-between space. In the space before, I knew my place, and I could predict my impact, relatively speaking. In the space now, some days I might pray for impact and talk to absolutely no one throughout the entire day. I might write something and have no idea what the impact is out there in the world. This confuses me. I notice my heart longing for ever-greater truth, ever greater connection, and I trust that if I follow it, Purpose will guide me to the right spot.

And guide it does, this Purpose, this mysterious pull that ever-expands me from the place of my heart. Every time I greet the fear of the next step into the unknown, I am stronger. Every time I am able to meet someone’s heart and soul and watch them take another step of their own, I just know that I am where I am meant to be. In that space, where humans let their guard down, get vulnerable, get honest, get emotional, and then break through their own stuff and heal because it’s safe to do so - it’s everything. It’s service. It’s Purpose. It’s my offering, dear humans. There is no where I won’t go when you are ready to go there.

For the fun of it, here I am, teaching mindfulness in a circle of students last year. And here's to all the circles to come. 

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Leaning into Resistance

He was encouraging me to go deeper and I wasn't having it.

I told him he was wrong, I told him that I was tired of men telling me what I am feeling or not feeling, I told him I was sure that he was also doing that to me right at that moment.

And he sat, paused, looked at me kindly, and reflected that while it was ultimately my decision, he thought that there was a deeper layer we hadn't hit yet.

I looked at his face and knew he could see what I couldn't see. I had hired this man to be my "coach," and he was helping me to heal, and by this point at two months in, I knew I could trust him.

I said okay. And with his help, I went deeper into my resistance.

It sucked. It was uncomfortable. I didn't want to look at what I didn't want to see. (That's what resistance is after all.) A moment before, I had been HOT and mad at him and fighting like hell to prove that what he was saying wasn't even true! I could not even SEE it! And to step in and trust him and the process was uncomfortable AF. There were tears, to say the least. There was feeling things I hadn't felt and didn't want to admit.

And in that space, of total vulnerability, he leaned in and affirmed my greatness. He told me that he saw the true potential underneath. And I knew I could believe him. And I broke through. He's amazing like that.

(I do this coaching thing but I also live this growth work. Live it.)

Resistance is everywhere. It is in each of us, because we've put up walls and mechanisms for not wanting to feel what hurts. We're embarrassed of our patterns. What we're doing is working for us - but we also know deeper down that it's not. That's when you call someone like me - we guide you through the resistance.

My client said to me today, "Do you have people resist like I am?" Oh, I had a career in education - I know about resistance. You can hate me in the process of your own resistance if you need to. I am not going anywhere.

Your resistance is okay, just as mine was (and will be the next time). We all have resistance! What we choose to DO with the resistance, and how we choose to allow someone to help, is everything. It can mean the difference between years and years of stuck, or breaking through.

When I see my clients lean in and push through their resistance, and allow themselves to trust themselves and me, I swear, my heart could just rejoice. THIS is the stuff of change, loves. It's not always easy, but it's DAMN REAL. It gets you closer to where you long to be, in leaps and bounds.

Rest, Listen, Act, Repeat.

By the time I was 33, my adrenals had crashed. The "why" of that is a long story, but long story short, I had been kicking my own ass, striving, and thinking that I wasn't enough for my entire life. Especially since the age of 19, when I birthed a daughter but wasn't ready, by society's standards, to raise her, and then I went to work ensuring that, by God, I would be enough and worthy of a child one day. Add to that - worthy of a child, money, husband, love, career, etc, etc, etc.

I didn't know my own worth then. And so I worked my ass off to try to attain and to prove it. My body was sending me warning flares but I didn't stop until I crashed.

This post is about the over-extension of ourselves as we're trying to prove something. So many are in this trap. No matter how far we've come, we can still find ourselves in this trap - the trap of not enough.

Trauma exacerbates this habit of perpetual action-taking in many cases. We experience something, and we run like hell from ever experiencing it again. Who feels me on this one? Get honest with yourself.

You take action upon action to stay afloat, to keep from feeling the shame of not succeeding, to finally "get to" where it is you imagine you must get to in order to feel you've made it.

You just keep taking action. It is wearing you the fuck out. You know it is not sustainable and your body is giving you clues, and yet, you power through. Why? It's time to get really honest with the "why."

I realized what I was doing, in part, when I crashed. I simply could not GO any longer. Coffee started to have a completely adverse affect, and instead of being a crutch, it became a hinderance (because my endocrine system could not handle the additional cortisol). I simply could not metabolize stress anymore. My body wasn't having it.

At that time, I also started to recognize that I had been completely out of touch with what is innately feminine inside of me. This action-orientation that I had been living in, the career ladders I had been climbing, the mindset of success - all of it aligned with more masculine characteristics than feminine ones. My feminine told me to pay attention to my intuition, to rest, to incubate, to follow my heart. I had NO IDEA what to do with this at first, and had to allow it to evolve in me.

It was not without difficulty. I was a school principal and I would close the door, sometimes multiple times a day, and lay on my back with my feet in the air like the ayurvedic doctor had encouraged me to do. My anxiety was through the roof. Crowds were making me panic. My body was freaking the fuck out, begging me for integration.

And then I spent a period of time heavily tilted toward inaction and rest. Part of me (bless that evolving part of me) thought that to regain my "feminine" meant to sway heavily to the side of inaction and spirituality. The pendulum had to swing for me until I could find my center. The balance of action & rest. We call in the guidance, and then we act on it. If we act without the guidance - well, we could crash.

Culturally, collectively, we have been in action-mode. We have been heavily in the masculine energy of forward motion. Rebalancing our lives involves a reintegration of the feminine into our consciousness - body, mind, soul.

We find her when we begin to honor cycles. Men, you need her as well. We find her when we listen to the voice that says "slow down." We honor her when we listen to her wisdom as she shares it.

Action steps in my life now are divinely directed. Rest and periods of integration are essential. This is no longer because my nervous system can't handle it (thankfully there has been much healing and bolstering of reserves) but because it is the ONLY way I know to trust my next steps.

Action & rest. Masculine & feminine. I love them both. I need them both. I AM them both.

I hope this serves you. If you are interested in creating more divinely-aligned action in your life, I am here to support you now. I support your own growth and goals through a mindful and soul-based approach to coaching. I work in a very personalized way. We target your goals, but we do it by incorporating rest so that you can access your own divine wisdom. This is intuitive, real, loving, and we don't fuck around. You can be beautifully fierce and action oriented AND nourished and restful. You can achieve balance, and nothing feels more "successful" or whole than that. Contact me for a conversation about any of the above.

In love, 
s

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Ask me.

I found this little gem I'd written July of 2017 when a friend commented on another website of mine (Patreon). I'm moving it over here to be seen in the light of day. 

...

Ask me what it was like, to clean the birth off of her and then have the nine pound weight of her body leave my hands thirty six hours later.

Ask me, ask me what it took to suppress that ocean of loss for moments, months, and years after.

Ask me. Ask me what fills the void left by the absence of a daughter. Ask me all the things you'd try if it happened to you.

Ask me what I know now. Ask me what it means when your body recoils in the presence of a man. Ask me how I had to claw and be held, sometimes simultaneously, to unearth that knowing from my soma.

Ask me how most everyone is living in a sorry combination of fear and placation, and how I know my tribe when a person has the courage to sit with a story of loss.

Ask me how my mind, body, and emotions were not permitted to be my own and the story of my own reclamation. The story of learning to listen to the whisper of deep soul.

Ask me, because I'm ready to share. A story of body, of shame, of healing, rising, motherhood, sex, and love.

#MeToo, and I'm deciding to love men anyway.

I am a woman.

I can say #metoo.

And I love men. I am actively choosing to love men.

I am survivor.

I am ex-wife.

I am the hated daughter.

I know sexual harassment. I know sexual abuse.

I have been physically assaulted by male students.

I have been lied to and cheated on by some men that I have allowed into the space of my soul.

I have been the woman on the side.

I have been talked over, mistreated, and isolated by men.

I have been rejected and outcast.

I have experienced trauma at the hands of men that I've spent years, and lifetimes, unraveling.

And I am deciding to love men anyway.

Because:

I have also healed in the hands of good men.

I have seen my own reflection in those men that could hold a clear mirror, and I am a better woman for it.

I have grown from my forgiveness of men and the liberation is sweeter than any resentment.

I have held men as they've cried and healed together as we've made love.

I have brought wounded men back to life again.

I have seen the shattered and silenced inside of the male heart, a story so rarely given voice.

I have seen the depth of the potential between two beings in sacred union and I value the masculine's place in that. I crave it and call to us that we all might know it.

I have been raising young men my entire adult life, I have seen and heard them cry at the pressure of being male, and they are half of our human population.

I have sat with male-born teenagers who wanted to escape being a man and change their sex for what it meant to them to conform to common notions of masculinity.

I am the mother of a son.

#metoo

And I'm going to decide to actively love men. And I will decide it as many times as it takes.

I'm going to own what's mine, and ask that you do the same.

I am going to embrace both the masculine and the feminine inside of me.

I am going to watch where I point my fingers.

I have been hurt at the hands of men, and I can see in every instance that it was because of the wounds of men that they actively or unwittingly hurt me.

I choose compassion. I choose love. I actively choose not to feed or fuel more aggression or opposition.

I am deciding to believe in men. And I am deciding to believe in women.

No more opposition now.

♥️

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Arrival.

At the turn of the year, I treated myself to an astrology reading, and in it, I asked her about the timeline of the year. It was to be, for sure, a year of transition. But when we were talking about how Embodied Breath was truly me living out my life purpose, I walked out of that appointment, and I said, “Now Please. Not in one year. Now.”

Do you have those goals you'd like to see happen... some day? What about NOW? 

And then, voila. Transition was delivered at an accelerated rate between January and March. (Did you know you could have that kind of influence?) 

I thought I’d stay and transition slowly out of my day job, but it happened quickly. 

I thought I’d be growing in my love relationship, but that ended too. 

It. Was. Hard. To say the least. And it was purposeful.

There I was, being given full blown permission to step into Embodied Breath, but I had some healing to do. 

I dug in. I don't think that I'd ever been through such a transition before. Sure, I'd changed jobs, but this move involved me doing more SOUL work than I had done before in three months time. 

Three months!?

That's how long I work with my clients! Oh now I see how truly powerful that amount of time can be! 

I don’t recognize myself from three months ago in so many ways. Who was that woman compromising all over the place? Who was that woman who was too tolerant, too sacrificing, overly hopeful in relationship? Who was that woman who was afraid to leap? Who was that woman that was still on some level, after 36 years of learning this lesson, afraid to use her voice for what she might lose?

Honoring every part of the process is so important to me. In fact, it is one of the major premises of my coaching. How is what we’re going through actually creating an opportunity for us? There is ALWAYS an opportunity.

Like I said, I took the opportunity. I took it deep into my soul, and I am changed for it.

What do you think you could accomplish in three months? I've seen my clients change their resiliency, how they show up at work, how they feel about their own abilities, their ability to speak up for themselves, their ability to LOVE themselves, their ability to BELIEVE in themselves, and the list goes on. 

You can experience a major life transition, and come through it a changed person, in three months. I just lived it. (Hey, thanks Universe for the experiential understanding!)

But you HAVE TO decide to say a big YES to getting as much out of life as you're meant to have. You HAVE TO be ready to choose you. 

And choosing you is hard. When we're parents, when we're hardworking, when there's not a lot of money in the bank - how are we supposed to choose to invest in ourselves?? I'll tell you how. When you decide that you want to put yourself on a different path altogether, you have to choose you. I mean that in the healthiest of ways. You have to say YES to what YOU desire. All this pleasing everyone else is not going to allow you to arrive where you want to be.  

Here's the honest truth. I wanted this. All last fall, I drove to work wondering when would be the perfect time to finally take the leap full time to my own work. I was enthusiastic about working with the people, but again, the paperwork and the focus on the things other than soul work were just mundane as hell. I tried to talk myself into it. I tried to look at the bright side, practice gratitude, be responsible, and on and on. I was putting my soul on hold. 

In these three months, I hired my own coach, wrote daily, woke up daily at 5AM to exercise and meditate, took on new clients and learned from them as they learned from me. I healed so many layers of my heart and soul. I let go of people (yeah, I said that.) I went to sound healings, acupuncture, yoga, dance, you name it. 

And you know what? I have arrived - in the place I wanted to be and wondered how I would get there, and now I walk forward from this place. Challenging myself, growing, and having a sincere-ass time being a personal coach to some amazing individuals. 

I'd love to know what your dreams are. What you're sitting on, waiting for that perfect time. When you're ready to go, I will help you arrive. 

Big love, 

s

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Trauma is a brain game.

Trauma creates a brain game. In the system with trauma, the brain is always asking, "Am I safe? In this moment, am I safe?" 

The thing about a trauma-brain is that the answer is often no. Based on previous personal experience and memory, one does not feel safe in that moment, even though, outwardly, all signs might point to actual safety. 

This is why you get a student in school who absolutely refuses to listen to a teacher when the teacher actively tries to love the student. The student's brain is already programmed against school. 

This is why you find that a lover just may not be able to connect to you, and says things to you that aren't true about you, but they're bringing up their past. 

This also might be you that does this. 

I know it's been me. Scanning for "Is this really safe? Is this relationship going to prove all of those old theories?" 

I'm watching right now as women play out their traumas against men, and vise versa. It's a long walk ahead of us, collectively, as we learn to pause to assess true safety of the actual moment versus projected threat. 

Trauma is a fucking brain game, of assessing threat on a constant basis. 

The beautiful thing, is that with continued healing, the patterns become clear. The little places we keep ourselves locked up in order to stay safe - they present themselves. When we greet those places, continually, with love, gentleness, and understanding, as we would an innocent child, those places heal. Safety is restored. 

And then, a beautiful thing happens. We live from the heart instead of the trauma-brain head. And therefore, I really believe, that healing trauma is the route to true connection. 

You can't get out of the head and into the heart until your head will allow you to. But then, when it does, and you find it doesn't rule you anymore, your heart is online and the connection that traumatized system wanted all along is available to you. 

So often, in an effort to remain safe, you stay disconnected. If trauma is a scan for threat, it is a scan that is blocking love, connection, and intimacy. 

Keep going. Keep healing. You can do it and you are beautiful. 

 

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In spite & because of...

I need to do something here, and I'm not even sure why I need to do it. But I do. My soul tells me that I do, and that's my guidance system. So I start typing...

I've been moving through the emotions associated with a breakup for the past few months, and I've been relatively quiet about it, because I felt a bunch of shame.

The things I did right, in my tally, were that I showed up in a way that I could be more proud of than ever and I loved, uninhibited. I loved him as is. I was excited to love him. You see, I've been trying to "get it right" as a female for a long time, so I've been keeping my own tally.

Yeah. The judgement of my female-ness came early in my life externally, and then, at some point early on, I internalized it. After my marriage, I set out to never be that emasculating woman that I had been again, and to walk toward the divine feminine. This is a lovely goal, but I see now, I was still keeping score of myself.

"Am I doing it well enough yet??" That kind of question.

I think I did. I think I was doing it, and, this other soul simply did not say yes to the invitation, or that was the soul contract - clearly. Soul mate contracts are tricky business.

But I was doing it - I was in a relationship where I was giving, and where I was trusting - more than ever - and I was foolish.

Now, I also read Tarot, and the Fool, you might know, is not all bad. The Fool meets the moment, is willing to flow, encourages lightheartedness. In my case, I was open, feeling things I'd never felt before, completely laying down my protections, learning to lean in, and then - poof.

He was gone. I was making plans to move forward and he was making an escape route.

As far as I can tell, it was all divine. I'm not writing about it now because I'm needing help working through it - that's not it. I'm through, actually, for the most part. This fool learned to love wholeheartedly, without my standard layer of protection, and it was enough to catapult me into an entirely new stage of self-love, one where the tally doesn't exist anymore.

Thank. You.

I'm writing about it because for a year of my life, I gave of myself and I allowed myself to be silenced, and for this I feel shame. And a part of my voice stays stuck.

As the feminine, I feel shame for having been kept secret while I was so. fucking. divine. while he told me he was moving toward a divorce. I feel shame for not listening to my instincts and stand up for myself earlier. And I feel shame for still feeling shame.

Shame is a shit show.

So much of this is going to release when I hit "post."

What I crave more than anything, what my soul craves, is authenticity - pure, raw, love-filled authenticity. Something in my voice is caught since this happened, and it simply can't stay that way. I think this is the remedy.

I can't sit with you and talk about what I know of love, the feminine, the masculine, if I can't also own this story of my life. I was keeping it quiet as a favor, because there was weird secrecy the whole time, and, that even feels shameful. Because I never promised to lie, and I never promised to keep my story untold. And I'll respect that he doesn't want his story shared, but where it overlaps with mine, well, I will respectfully choose what to do with that.

And what I know is that I've not been talking about related topics, ones I love, because they intersected here.

Done. I am releasing the shame that lives in silence now.

I am a warrior for love. For truth, and for divine union. I am a warrior for the sacred feminine and the sacred masculine. I am a warrior, still, for the masculine that both yearns for deep love but guards his own heart, for the masculine that craves the feminine but doesn't know her presence when it's in front of him, for the masculine that chooses fear over love.

Maybe it's foolish, but I already told you I'm okay with that.

I have been hurt by the masculine and feminine both, and I am in service to both, and I will do this work still, because the history of my body and soul has written on it the story of this suffering, as likely does yours. I have felt it and deeply investigated it each step of the way.

I am a warrior for the actualization of the divine feminine and masculine, in spite of and because of my own story. I don't hate. Fuck, I don't even fault - the problem is so much bigger than each of us. And therefore, the antidote is that we must love now, bigger than each of us. I've felt hurt, but I LOVE still, and more bravely than ever.

Shoo. That feels really fucking good to say. This warrior needed to get that off her chest. There's work to be done.

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Mindful Coaching

I coach through a lens of mindfulness. Let me explain what that means.

All the time, we have flitty little thoughts in our heads, repetitive thoughts, resistant thoughts. Most people have repressed emotions that feed these habitual thoughts.

AND, here’s the thing. These habits of mind that you have are absolutely instrumental in whether or not you are able to create the changes in your life you are looking for. If you’ve got the hamster wheel of thought, emotion, reaction - we need to witness that before moving forward.

You can pick these things apart intellectually. It’s an option. But it's ineffective in the long haul. You can figure something out and say, "That's it! I'm done with THAT now!" only to have that very thing come back again and again.

When you work with me, we are going to witness what arises, and with the breath, with a gentle mindfulness practice (and other tools I’ll introduce to you), we will actually INTEGRATE what arises.

What? If it’s difficult, why would we integrate it?

Because what you resist will chase you forever.

Read that last sentence again.

Most people are running from what is chasing them, from what has happened to them, or from the patterns that went into play after a traumatic event. It’s real.

It all needs to be felt, witnessed, moved through. 

And here's another fantastic tidbit - if something is coming up for you, then it IS the thing that is ready to be healed. 

And when we’re ready to stop living with the suffering of the hamster wheel of habit, we have options. My services are but one available to you.

Mindfulness allows you to sit with what is difficult, come out of that frightened brain, and to live a more grounded and embodied, less frenetic, wholly inspired life. This is the basis of my individual work, couples work, group work. We BREATHE so that we can regulate into our own experience and speak/live/BE from a centered place.

Doesn’t that sound appealing?

My services are mindfulness-based, but that’s not all we do. Oh no. It IS, however, where we start. From there, once you notice what arises and stop running from it, you are so much more naturally able to integrate, cope, and embody resilience in your daily life. I use other tools, body-based awareness, and a lot of encouragement and actualization exercises to stretch and grow you into the next level of your better self.

I love that so many people are currently hungry for change. I love that I get to be of service when you are ready. Honestly, there is nowhere I’d rather be.

The things you know you need to address that scare you - they don’t scare me. You can be scared, but the gold and glory of hiring a coach is that I HOLD THAT SPACE FOR YOU to have your experience, AND, I will encourage you to grow. Safely. At the next level appropriate for YOU, individually.

We start with the breath, with mindfulness, and then we RISE into our true potential.

I'm interested in hearing from you. How does this land? What are you interested in changing in your daily life? Maybe it's your mindset, maybe it's that nagging anxiety, maybe it's your relationship with your spouse.

Set up a free 30 minute call with me at the link below to discuss how mindfulness-based coaching might be right for you!

Much love, 
s

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Freedom at last

We were told to look into one another’s eyes. Partner A studied partner B without speaking, knees to knees as we sat cross legged facing one another, and then, when the time came, she was to reflect to me what she saw in me.

And then she said, “I see in you freedom. You are free.” She said it with longing and that she desired it too.

I told her in the brief moment I had, “I was just recently an educator too, like you, and I left it to follow my heart. Now I work with (mostly) women on their own journeys. Thank you for your reflection.”

My dear sister, you have just given me a great compliment. You have seen something in me that is newly embodied, this freedom. And so it is with celebration that I now allow myself to claim it.

This freedom is the result of consistent commitment to growth. It is the result of deep soul work, again and again.

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It is eventually learning to ask for help, when I always thought I had to do it on my own and that others were simply not safe to rely on. It was a commitment to allowing my heart to open again, and maybe for the first time.

It is consciously letting go of safety, embracing risk, learning to trust and soar. It is laughter found in unexpected places.

It is sitting on the meditation cushion, day after day, learning how to breathe again after years of perfectionistic tightness. It is loving my belly that lost a child at 19 and struggled to digest food or feel at ease every moment after.

It is consciously deciding not to hold onto resentment, especially with the masculine. It is having finally trusted a man enough to let him break my heart wide open when he left abruptly, such that I finally understood that my wholeness does not come from another’s reflection. It is a determination to love instead of resent. It is the result of active forgiveness of self and other.

It is allowing myself to love and be loved in spite of the old wounded habit of self-protection.

It is the result of dedication, this freedom, because I have said yes to learning every lesson that this path brought me. This is the freedom of having not bypassed. This is the freedom of knowing myself so well that I am at home here, finally, in this skin.

This is resiliency. There is little left that I fear. This is the result of the alchemy of present moment awareness and the breath. All the nights, sister, in the walk of healing my own trauma, that I have spent in the throws of my own grief, tears pouring down my own cheeks as I felt it. I felt it and by allowing it to be felt, I learned that it could not rule me. I can gently allow all parts of me to coexist. When we stop fighting ourselves, sister, worlds open.

This freedom is having come into relationship with my own body, to unlock the patterns of trauma, to learn safety, to know my own resourcefulness. Many, mostly women, sat across from me on my journey. They held the mirror, they believed in me so that I could believe in me.

This freedom is ceasing to allow men to light the path of my own discovery any longer, and I’m talking about sexually as well, sister. Take it back, that meekness we are taught, and know your own body, claim it, prioritize pleasure, know your boundaries, know your desires. This freedom is the reclamation of knowing what you want.

This freedom is a lifetime of giving my own self permission to step into the power of my own voice when we do not live in a world that grants women this permission. This freedom is me being willing to say my truth anyway, and suffer the losses, and celebrate the gains. This freedom is having earned my own voice.

This freedom is intentionally integrating the emotional and spiritual realms into my way of being after being raised and working in a field that valued intellect and book smarts. It is the conscious reintegration of the feminine into my once overly-masculine approach that had been the majority of my life. This is the freedom that comes with remembering, and then honoring, my own femininity.

This freedom is the result of not allowing life to destroy me. When I gave away my child, my beautiful nine pound child birthed of my body, because I thought I wasn’t yet worthy of her – I got my ass back up. My mother, bless her, modeled this. I survived that loss and I survived having overachieved every day thereafter until, finally, I could accept myself and didn’t need to prove myself any longer. The striving to overachieve in and of itself can kill you, sister. My adrenals are still healing now, the stress was so vast.

This freedom, woman, unfortunately takes work, but it is not granted by anyone other than each of us; ourselves. WE must be the ones to say we will claim it. And then you walk, one foot in front of the other, answering the call of your own soul.

This freedom is owning my choice to walk out of the job that provided the esteemed position in the hierarchy and the steady paycheck in order to sit across from you now and remind you that this freedom is yours too. I will live my life in service to our remembering, sister. It is owning that my work is actually to align with soul’s purpose, to foster opportunities for authenticity and reintegration with our true self. Sister, this is everything.

It is the choice and the ability to live, embodied and alive, free of conditions.

This freedom I feel now, I think it’s a taste of why I have been answering my soul’s call my entire life. It is the other side of suffering, and yes, I’ve reached it. I did not get there by following any prescription of success, although it is true that in doing that, I did take this winding road. But the true discovery was in listening to my own self, my own internal knowing, the whisper that we so often and for so long ignore. It is courageous to listen to that whisper. And, to be true, sister, when the time really comes, the whisper becomes a roar. Are you listening now?

When I show up in front of you now, I do not take this for granted, this freedom. I am still learning to recognize myself here, and I humbly tell you, it is the best place I have ever known.

But I didn’t bypass. I didn’t stay stuck. I actively chose love, forgiveness, trust, and hope when it didn’t seem to make sense to do so. Along the way, I fucked up, I hated myself, I felt like a victim, and I did not know what to do at so many points. I was alone at times and I didn’t always appreciate those around me. This path of authenticity is not an easy path, sister, but it is calling you.

What I’m saying, sister, is yes, you see freedom. Thank you for that reflection. I’m both proud to be wearing it now, and, I also want it for you. I believe in you. Take my example, or ask for my hand – whatever you need – I will support you in my heart all the way.

(May 18, 2018) 

Women's Independence - It's not all we imagined.

Women,

Our independence, what we have fought for so wholeheartedly, has a shadow side I want to explore. I hear so many women and men talking about this lately.

Every topic has a positive and negative aspect – this is no exception, and I won’t be able to bite off the whole topic in one post, clearly, and so please add thoughts to the conversation below in the comments or reach out to me personally.

When we tout independence for women in our culture, that implies that women are able to provide for themselves, have top level jobs, raise their families, heal themselves or tuck away any unresolved emotional trauma, in order to do what needs to be done. We get it done, as women. We pride ourselves on this. 

I found myself, in recent years, in this trap. I call it a “trap” for reasons I’ll explore here and elsewhere.

Five years ago, my ex-husband and I weren’t happy in our marriage, and had decided to separate. One day in the woods, I had an awakening of sorts where I remembered the true soul inside of me that I had silenced many years before, for reasons too vast to go into here. I woke up. I thought, “I’m going to LIVE AS HER!” And I have. It has been a long, deep journey back to her.

At that time, I had just become a school principal in a truly wonderful school – I’d say the position was somewhat coveted in this progressive school and because I’d worked my ass off (for reasons both positive and negative), at 33 years old I had this leadership role that I had gone after (win!). I bought a house after my divorce (with help, but, win!) and I was supposed to be “making it.” I looked like I was. But I really wasn’t. Because all the degrees and all the status and independence didn’t actually equate to financial sustainability…..

…. or connection, or happiness, or having enough time left over to even enjoy what I had, or being the mom I wanted to be, or healing the heartache that remained mine.

When we get caught up in the cycle of go-go-go, and let’s be real, most women are in our culture today (myself too to some extent still), we are not necessarily bettering our lives. Though we’re possibly more independent, and we are getting more done, we are suffering as well. 

Independence and “I knew I couldn’t count on anyone. I didn’t need you anyway” (that was my own go-to protection when another man wasn’t stepping in the way I wanted him to) are actually also potentially evidence of a wounded, protective spirit. 

And I’ll take a detour here to say this on the topic of men: How are they supposed to step in when we have such incredibly high and defensive standards? Our independence quite possibly turns men off, but if we take a true moment to get real about this, there are reasons for that. When women took on independent and leadership roles, we also took on masculine qualities of character. That’s another conversation.

I know a lot of single moms – entrepreneurs, PhDs, heads of household – that are actually pretty damn lonely. It’s sad. In one hand, they may be tasting success, and in another, there’s a lot of pressure that goes with doing it on your own. 

And I don’t know this for sure, because we don’t talk about it, but I do wonder how many of these women are still taking money from Daddy. Because I was. Because that’s another trap. As women, we are told to believe in our independence, but we get mixed messages that also tell us to stay dependent, to Daddy or to husband or fill in the blank.

So because this doesn’t feel right, we fight against it. We rebel. “I didn’t need you anyway!”

Or did I? Do I still? I need relationships and connection. I need to be able to falter. I need to be able to slow down, lay my head on someone’s shoulder sometimes, be sexy as hell and have someone appreciate it, model healthy relationships for my son, receive touch at the end of the day, and so on. This is the true story behind a woman caught in the independence trap for some time, the story that I think more women are ready to tell.

The positive side of independence – we know it. We know what our mothers and grandmothers refused to tolerate and so they acted on it. I like that I can get a job that pays well in leadership if I wanted one. I like that I could go to school a few times and gain all that knowledge. I LOVE that I can be an entrepreneur now. I enjoy many freedoms that women just generations prior did not. I heard yesterday that a man still didn’t need a woman to co-sign on a second mortgage when her name was on the original mortgage, still in the mid 1980s. 

I enjoy the freedoms and how far we’ve come. And, part of my work is actually to remind us that this set-up doesn’t quite have it all right yet – we need independence AND connection, collaboration, and meaningful interaction with other humans.

Our female bodies that have been pounding the pavement for independence could have a deeper story to tell us. Our bodies could actually be suffering, untouched, as a result of independence. 

This old feminism actually has had a negative affect on our men, too, because they don’t exactly understand how to both support our independence and fulfill their biological role as provider. This, too, is a much bigger topic for another day.

We need to Lean In (v. & also reference to that book that sparked a movement that encouraged women to keep claiming independence) – but not only into how to achieve more success. We need to lean into one another. Into conversation, regardless of gender. Into a deeper, curious, sensitive investigation of both the positive and negative of independence. We need to lean across the table (after we get our asses to the table) and whisper something vulnerable, like, “Thanks for being here with me, human, in real conversation. It’s been a while.” Then smile. 

Step 1.

 

(May 10, 2018)

A new kind of feminism.

I am interested in empowering women. Absolutely.

There are a lot of powerful women out there that have not yet actualized the potential of their own badassery. It’s true. And, this is necessary for our collective evolution on the planet.

AND… I am also interested in a new kind of feminism altogether. I believe that all interpretations of feminism thus far have served to further divide men and women; focusing on violence and fight. Yes, I said it. Even a “fight to be equal” is still a damn fight. It’s not going to work. It’s not even a feminine approach.

Women are RISING, but many men don’t know what to do with these powerful women in their lives. So, they shut them out. Or put them down. Or cower. (Top 3 I’ve found.)

I have experienced all of these my entire life, and it’s been absolute trial by fire these last two months as I’ve stepped full time into Embodied Breath – which symbolizes a woman thinking and speaking and creating on her own. That’s hard for some to take. I get it now. You get it. If you’re a woman, you’ve lived it. If you’re a man willing to be honest with yourself, you can admit that at some point you have gotten nervous as a woman in your life grew stronger.

Here’s the thing:

I want to allow space for men to also rise into their most divine selves. In our power-over culture, most women become immediately nervous when I say this. It is not a bad thing to want our men to be in their innate power – we just don’t have a culture that has encouraged appropriate power in the masculine! There is another way! We also want men in their own sovereignty, women, trust me. THAT’s when you get the divine love, consideration, protection, and trust that you’re craving in a counterpart to match that growing Goddess that you are!!

We want men to not be threatened by the true power of the feminine – which is a fucking force! A FORCE we’ve all been waiting for! I use the word “force” on purpose here – it is not a power-over force, but a force of nature. In her own right, the feminine is powerful in a different way.

Feminism serves no purpose if it is another rendition of power-over. If we seek to trump, master, manipulate, be better than, then guess what: that’s not true feminism because it perpetuates divisiveness.

We don’t even really want “equality” because we are not happy with the dominant masculine culture that we have! I don’t want to be equal to a man that has to climb a hierarchical structure just to prove his worth. Women, WE ARE DOING THIS. Stopping this is crux. We do NOT want equality!! We want the feminine to be honored and to have Her place.

A true feminism calls each person to rise into their own best selves, through love and receptivity, connection and exchange. A true feminism isn’t male/female, because both of these masculine/feminine forces exist in each of us. The repression of the feminine has hurt women, clearly, but it has also hurt men.

It is the feminine we’re actually all craving.

I hope that this serves you. Please reach out to me if you’d like to have conversations or work with me as a client:

As a woman, let’s talk about your own empowerment or your DISempowerment and what you’d like to do about it.
AND, as a man, if you’d like to better understand what I’m talking about and potentially explore how your own biases keep you protected and at odds with the feminine, reach out.

And, forgive me if my binary language has been too exclusive. It serves to illustrate, not to box in. This is, of course, a fluid and flexible topic.

Much love,
s


(April 9, 2018)

Go get it. Differently now.

For so many years of my life, I went after what I wanted. And, I got it. Can you relate?

When my son was one, and I was working in a therapeutic boarding school (with many problems), I thought, “I can see this whole big picture! I’m going back to school for school admin. One day, I will run this show.”

So I got a second Master’s degree while he slept.

When he was three, I thought, “I want to work at Asheville’s best charter school, so that I can witness education working differently, make a contribution, and so that my son can go there.” And by the time he was in kindergarten, I was the administrator of the upper grades.

That same year, as I was separating from my husband, I had a significant adrenal crash. Here I was, supposed to be a powerhouse, and I was actually really sick from trying to be a powerhouse. I didn’t really ask for help, though, at all. I kept going being a powerhouse.

For many years in my life, I went after what I wanted. I manifested with might.

Around the same time, I started to significantly wake up to my own femininity – what had been lost, what had been sacrificed to this world of “succeeding.” I worked in education, where every answer is supposed to come from a book, where what you know is measured by the letters behind your name. And, if you don’t have certain letters, then you haven’t earned your right to talk about certain things.

I woke up to much. Too much for this post. I remembered intuition, for starters. I remembered the dance of being a female in relation to a male, thanks to one divine being who woke me up. And then I realized, that to go after, to force manifest, to endlessly give away my energy and life force was actually draining (I was already sick) and was not innately feminine. I realized that how we operate in this whole culture is not innately feminine. It’s not the foundation we were built on, even though we are all born of women. We’ve lost our balance.

It is a dance – the feminine and masculine, the receptivity with the action. Each of us, if we intend to, can learn it every day. People in relationships can learn this dance, too.

I still went on to craft and lead one more school, and what a beautiful transition that was into what I am now doing. “Leadership” in our culture means the one in charge. I am interested in dancing with different definitions of leadership. Ones that look a little bit more like “organizer” or “space holder.”

As I heal myself, as I watch my clients step back into their feminine, as I watch couples attune to this simultaneously new and ancient knowing, I trust that this is what we need in order to heal ourselves, and to heal the world.

We can’t heal the world with force, damn it.  It’s taken me a long-ass time to learn that, and I intend for the rest of the journey to be very different.

(April 3, 2018)

Expression over Repression: A weekend with Jen Pastiloff & Lidia Yuknavitch

Two weeks ago, I sat across from a friend at lunch and said, “All signs point to – get your ass to Portland.” You see, I had the coveted workshop ticket, purchased last summer the morning they went on sale, and I had the Airbnb reservation (a property of a friend’s friend, my only connection to Portland, and conveniently located one block from the workshop – evidence of the magic already in progress), but didn’t yet have the plane ticket. He agreed and was even willing to support it by buying the plane ticket: You need to go to Portland. Yes, now. Now of all times.

I had left my day job four weeks prior. My love relationship had fallen away unexpectedly a week later. I had left my job to be fully IN my business – embodying all it stands for. But I was in TRANSITION, to say the least. Was it “smart” to fly to Portland? Was it “reasonable?”

Although this post is more about what happened IN Portland, I will interject here a reminder, that there will be moments in your life where you have a hunch that you need to do something, and you can either say a big YES and buy that expensive plane ticket or you can say a weaker “meh” and pass it up, only to realize later (or never) that that may have been your gig. Portland taught me, among other things, to say YES.

Lidia Yuknavitch wrote a memoir called The Chronology of Water, which was monumental in my life two summers ago and remains a favorite. It is her story, written, and yet I saw myself in it in big ways. She also lost a daughter in her early years, and she writes “from the body” the story of how that shaped everything thereafter. Her organization is called Corporeal Writing and this workshop; Writing and the Body. The workshop is offered at least once annually and is co-designed and led by yoga teacher/writer/activist/human Jen Pastiloff, who, years ago made an impression on me with her “ENOUGH” messages to women. She also has a blog where she showcases other women’s voices. Here is my own story on the Manifest Station from late last year.

So, wow, these women are amazing humans.

Yes. I needed to be there. Yes. I needed a swift ass kick into fully embodying this transition in my life. Yes. I needed to witness a room full of women dancing, doing yoga (while singing), owning their fears, owning their regrets, and TELLING THEIR STORIES. Yes. I needed to witness the strength of Jen & Lidia holding space. Yes. I needed to trust new friends. Yes. I needed to say YES.

I said yes. The whole trip, I said yes.

I practiced surrender, practiced not making plans. I practiced setting intentions and saying yes when all the different doors opened. I said yes to owning exactly what was going on for me. I said yes to raising my hand, when Lidia asked if there was anything that needed to be spoken in order that we feel complete, and I shared a story I’d written about this last love relationship, the one that had been so sacred yet had also been, in hindsight, repressed. The relationship had not been public for reasons I tried to support, and therefore, the secrecy had also seemingly afforded him permission, in the end, to disrespect me, the relationship, and the feminine (inside me, inside himself, inside all of life itself), by abandoning it. And of course, that also meant that I was abandoning and repressing myself and the feminine as well. That story was living inside of me, hidden and confused and so mixed up with all the emotions of repression. Women know this feeling – there are things we have agreed not to speak, and I believe, collectively. So with a shaking voice, I read it, and a room full of women witnessed it. And in that moment, I understood in my bones the power of creating safe space to share stories, something I have been trying to incorporate as a part of Embodied Breath. I trusted before that it is needed, this permission, and now, I have experienced it.

Here I am. Being vulnerable AF.

 But look at that position – in between those two supportive warriors, with the eyes and love of each woman in the room holding me. Lidia Yuknavitch herself had her hand on my back, y’all.  Women supporting women in expressing themselves instead of repressing themselves.  Yes.  Yes. Yes. YES.  At one point on the first day, after this vulnerable moment, Lidia is talking to us and she says something like, “We are every woman. We are ALL of us. Telling the story IS the thing that will bring you back to life. It is the thing that someone else needs to hear. There is a woman right behind you that needs your story.”  And then I burst into tears.  Because I got it – all of these “yeses” and this trip to Portland. I needed to hear Lidia Yuknavitch tell me what she knows about story sharing – what her book did for me. I needed to remember, deep in my core, that this story of my life is the one that needs to be shared. Among others – among all the stories. This story, of placing a daughter for adoption, of never believing I was enough, of striving like hell for approval outside of myself, of wanting love so badly but guarding myself protectively against it, of remembering my own femininity, of continually fighting against the repression of voice such that now I am prepared to stand behind any woman going through the same process – Yes. This story needs to be shared.  How do you know if a story needs to be shared? If it feels repressed, that’s how. If it’s begging to be let out.  My daughter (the one I surrendered in an open adoption) starts college this fall. For years, all the talk has been about what she’s going to decide to study. In the last few years of working as a school administrator, all the time, I gave less and less and less fucks about what we were studying and put more and more and more emphasis on the people we were raising and becoming. Until eventually, I had to let go of education altogether.  My daughter, and your daughter, and your sister, mother, granddaughter – THEY are the ones coming behind us. THEY need a NEW STORY. In sharing our stories NOW, we create a new story. And we live into a different future, where voices are expressed rather than repressed. Where the feminine herself is expressed instead of repressed.  And then, I said one more yes, to a big ol’ tattoo in dedication to this purpose – I will no longer perpetuate repression, be afraid to hold space for what is difficult to speak, or deny any of the parts of the feminine divine. I will integrate shadow and light, I will look at what is difficult (and help others do the same) in order that we might grow, I will celebrate what arises from the shedding of skin. (That was a tattoo hint right there…)  This is Embodied Breath, this is the work of my life. I am here. This transition these last six weeks, this trip, has birthed me anew. Death, rebirth. In order that we get to the rebirth, we need to say Yes.  I will spend my lifetime encouraging this YES in all who feel the desire to step into themselves more fully, more divinely, to share their story, to celebrate their own becoming. I will tell the story, because I am a woman with a voice, who holds a continual and close examination of this life, and I know that we are generations of women (and men) who need to hear more truth.  Thank you Portland, Thank you Lidia & Jen & all the women, Thank you, dear opportunity to say Yes.  YES.  (March 29, 2018)

But look at that position – in between those two supportive warriors, with the eyes and love of each woman in the room holding me. Lidia Yuknavitch herself had her hand on my back, y’all.

Women supporting women in expressing themselves instead of repressing themselves.

Yes.

Yes. Yes. YES.

At one point on the first day, after this vulnerable moment, Lidia is talking to us and she says something like, “We are every woman. We are ALL of us. Telling the story IS the thing that will bring you back to life. It is the thing that someone else needs to hear. There is a woman right behind you that needs your story.”

And then I burst into tears.

Because I got it – all of these “yeses” and this trip to Portland. I needed to hear Lidia Yuknavitch tell me what she knows about story sharing – what her book did for me. I needed to remember, deep in my core, that this story of my life is the one that needs to be shared. Among others – among all the stories. This story, of placing a daughter for adoption, of never believing I was enough, of striving like hell for approval outside of myself, of wanting love so badly but guarding myself protectively against it, of remembering my own femininity, of continually fighting against the repression of voice such that now I am prepared to stand behind any woman going through the same process – Yes. This story needs to be shared.

How do you know if a story needs to be shared? If it feels repressed, that’s how. If it’s begging to be let out.

My daughter (the one I surrendered in an open adoption) starts college this fall. For years, all the talk has been about what she’s going to decide to study. In the last few years of working as a school administrator, all the time, I gave less and less and less fucks about what we were studying and put more and more and more emphasis on the people we were raising and becoming. Until eventually, I had to let go of education altogether.

My daughter, and your daughter, and your sister, mother, granddaughter – THEY are the ones coming behind us. THEY need a NEW STORY. In sharing our stories NOW, we create a new story. And we live into a different future, where voices are expressed rather than repressed. Where the feminine herself is expressed instead of repressed.

And then, I said one more yes, to a big ol’ tattoo in dedication to this purpose – I will no longer perpetuate repression, be afraid to hold space for what is difficult to speak, or deny any of the parts of the feminine divine. I will integrate shadow and light, I will look at what is difficult (and help others do the same) in order that we might grow, I will celebrate what arises from the shedding of skin. (That was a tattoo hint right there…)

This is Embodied Breath, this is the work of my life. I am here. This transition these last six weeks, this trip, has birthed me anew. Death, rebirth. In order that we get to the rebirth, we need to say Yes.

I will spend my lifetime encouraging this YES in all who feel the desire to step into themselves more fully, more divinely, to share their story, to celebrate their own becoming. I will tell the story, because I am a woman with a voice, who holds a continual and close examination of this life, and I know that we are generations of women (and men) who need to hear more truth.

Thank you Portland, Thank you Lidia & Jen & all the women, Thank you, dear opportunity to say Yes.

YES.

(March 29, 2018)