Trauma

I am nothing if not Truthy.

As it was happening that I was developing a group opportunity for women, on Cultivating & Activating PERSONAL TRUTH for January 2019, I was carrying a Truth that I didn’t know how to share.

 

I didn’t even know if it was fully mine to share. I didn’t know what would happen if I were to share it, when to share it, what to do with it. So in all that confusion, I started to question the Truth itself.

 

Read: I questioned myself. Because Personal Truth is Self.

 

This Truth was handed to me by the Universe, by Source, by my Soul. I shit you not. It was the biggest Truth I had ever been handed. It was a recognition of a bigger Truth rather than something that I thought up. In other words - it just was.  It blew me away. And it came in one of the most outstanding packages of unfortunate circumstances that you could imagine. This Truth changes lives.

 

Because I was so taken aback by this Truth, and because of its magnitude, I was unsure what to do. You can not deny a Truth like this. Actually, I will say this: I, personally, will not deny a Truth like this. One that involves my Soul. I will not. That is a vow I hold unto myself. And yet, others would not approve. This Truth is certain to evoke judgement.

 

Others would not approve. There I was in an old pattern of seeking that approval. I was familiar with this pattern, but sometimes it catches me off guard.  I worried and focused on the impossible task of navigating this Truth in the world of others. I spent months navigating how to bring this Soul Truth into the world, attempting to do so consciously.

 

And then I woke up. Again.

To the pattern. Oh. I saw what I was doing. It went like this:

  1. Know a Personal Truth

  2. Truth is uncomfortable (I seem to have a soul contract to be a big noisy being in this world and #2 is not uncommon for me - see below.)

  3. Look for a way to make the Truth comfortable for everyone else and feel a shit ton o’ shame and the pain of hiding for even having this Truth in the meanwhile.

 

But step 3 does NOT work. That’s where I was off. That’s where we commonly go wrong - the approval seeking. We know a thing so deeply inside of ourselves and then we look outside of ourselves to approve of our knowing. This is an old, patriarchal trap. And here I was in it - again.

I was looking for approval and hence seeking to prove:

I am a good person.

I am in integrity.

I am a loving person.

I hold myself accountable.

I do not ever intend to hurt others.

(These are some of my Truths. But you see, here, I was trying to prove my Truth. Ick.) There is a difference, a mighty difference, between inherently knowing your Truth and trying to prove your Truth to others.

 

What I was handed was a righteous, unbelievable Truth. Honestly. One day, when it is told, some of you will believe it and some of you will not.

 

I heard myself say at one point, “I understand that what I am asking you to believe is unbelievable.”

 

Another friend who both loves me and holds me accountable said to me, “Even some seers won’t be able to see this Truth.”

 

How do you get approval for a Truth like that?

 

This Truth, THIS Truth - in its gift and in all its challenge and in all its splendor - it taught me something huge. APPROVAL SEEKING FOR YOUR OWN TRUTH DOES NOT F*ING WORK. It’s like I needed the most impossible set of circumstances, sure to evoke judgement from one angle or another, to remind me, hopefully once and for all, that the approval for my Truth comes from me. In fact, it doesn’t even need approval, because it just IS. What our Personal Truth needs, is to be honored. And here I was, organizing a women’s group around Personal Truth. You see how life delivers the finest of lessons, albeit in complex packages?

 

Change Step 3, Sarah. You inherently know this.

3. Let your Truth be your own. Let your Truth be your Power. Let owning your Truth be your Journey. Let everyone else have their Truth (becomes everyone’s Truth is capital T). We all get to have our Truth. Your Truth is your Heart and your Soul and your Authenticity. It is You.

 

My friend Seppi was talking to me about the question of “What’s your kryptonite?” I’d have to say - the judgement of others.

 

When other people don’t like me, I have performed various tragedies of self neglect in the name of gaining approval. I have attempted to mitigate people not liking me by approval seeking. Over and over and over again.

 

I stand out. I just do, and I struggled with this for a long time. I tried hard to play by the rules but it didn’t work for me. I tried over and over again to get it right according to some truth (little t) outside myself.

 

This summer, I was at a Soul Fire retreat. It was night four and it was supposed to be a ceremony where we “married” our Soul. Well, I’d just baptized myself as Sarah Poet naked in a river and danced my ass off in a field in order to reclaim my wild feminine Soul to the degree that needed to be reclaimed on that day and I was tired. I was beat. I had just earned my Soul barefoot on the ground in the summer heat, moving body and limbs as I expelled the trauma and judgement trapped therein. And so everyone was getting showered and dressed for this ceremony - in beautiful gowns and glitter, and my Soul was like, “Eh, fuck no.” And I wore jeans and my black bikini top and put my dirty hair up under a sun hat. It was the truest thing in that moment to not wear what everyone else was wearing. And I did the back and forth of “Is this okay?” and of course it was. It just didn’t fit in. Because that’s me. Apparently I came to wear jeans to my ceremonies and fuck some shit up around here. But dear me, my heart, it gets more and more fierce the more I honor my Truth. My Truth is pure. It was always pure.

 

And that realization is my strength. My power. Approval seeking sucks the life out of you. I’ve done it. I’ve done it for so long, over and over, and I’ve felt the judgement of standing in my Truth, and I’ve felt the inner conflict when I denied it. Denying my Truth is actually my kryptonite. And damn it, here’s what I know.

I did NOT walk out of the hierarchical job structure of the Patriarchy and create my own empire in service to raising consciousness on this planet in order to find myself once again in that shit-eating Patriarchal pattern of approval seeking from powers outside of myself. We’ll do it to ourselves if we allow it.

I did NOT walk out of a job just last year where one day my male boss shamed me, in a leadership position, in front of my peers as if I was a little girl and in a way he would never have spoken to a man, demanding subordination, in order to go unseen now. Fuck no. FUCK no.

I did NOT give away a baby to adoption as a young woman who believed I wasn’t enough to raise her child and spend the subsequent fifteen years realizing the myth of inadequacy in my bones so that I could stay silent when things get uncomfortable now. In fact, quite the opposite.

I did NOT walk the path of my Soul to get here and then deny my Truth because it’s difficult to walk it. No. I walk it.

 

Shoo. You feeling me?

 

I will have any conversation, I will face anything, I will consider, I will love. I will live my TRUTH.

 

But I will not go quietly, silently denying my own Truth. The time for that is over. That is why I am here. I now allow my Truth to be mine. I stand tall. I take in the energy of fearing my kryptonite, fearing a loss of approval, and I turn that energy inward. My Truth fills my Heart. In fact, my Truth comes from my Heart.  This Truth makes me who I am. It allows me to take ALL of the energy that I leak when I’m in approval seeking, and that then becomes the energetic embers of my inner fire.

 

Approval seeking is dead to me. You may or may not approve, and loves, I do not care.

 

That’s not an insult. In fact, if you can see it, it’s empowering AF.  I support you in whatever your Truth is as well. You WANT me to be fully in my Truth, fully supporting yours. We each need this for and from one another. Because our Truth is heartfelt.

 

Because when I am in my Truth, I love you more.

Because when I am in my Truth, I honor yours.

Because in order for me to know and honor my Truth, I have to know my Heart.

And I will not deny my Heart.

 

Let us be unwavering.

 

Let us be stoking our own fire, so that we can stoke the fire of the world.

 

Your truth is not about anyone else. If you are directing even a portion of your energy toward approval seeking, or hell, giving or denying approval, take it back.

 

This is your life force.

 

Your Truth is your life force.

 

If you are denying your Truth, you are staying smaller than you are meant to be. You know I’m right. I know I’m right because I did it. I did it when I wanted to leave that job and was scared to. I did it when I wrote the letter addressing the problem and was dismissed from the job and felt deep shame for all the disapproval. I did it when I let my baby go. I did it when I knew how to yell but not how to speak from the heart. I did it when I stayed married, hell, when I got married.

 

I denied my Truth a million times, because that is what we’re taught to do as women.

And I have also regained it, now no less than a million times.

It has been the walk of my lifetime, honoring my Truth. I am here to support you doing the same.

We learn to hear it, then we figure out how we want to honor it. It is all your choice. Just do not deny it.

I am here. Embers are burning. 20 women. We begin this sacred circle January 4.

Schedule a free consult here. Sign up here.

S Shoemaker Spring '18-24.jpg



To the father whose child I denied you

Eighteen years ago, our daughter was born. She was large, nine pounds three ounces and round, so round, and so beautiful. So wise. As a child in my womb, as a new born, she was already wise. Of course she was. She came through us.

You never got to place your hands on my stomach or witness the pregnancy. You wanted to come close and yet, my family and I pushed you away. Everyone was terrified that I was pregnant at eighteen, and you, dear man, were made to be a monster. Truths were falsified against you. Your child was being denied you, you were panicking, but you didn’t receive acknowledgment for that.

Not until I sat in front of you seventeen years later and began my apology.

We were young when we met, and I remember you first on the back porch of a cabin, in an oversized sweatshirt, jumpy in a nervous and athletic body, but your tenderness certainly apparent and your dimples deep. You were a speech pathology major in college. I believe I was fifteen and immediately had a crush on you. A few times a year, we volunteered at the same camp for kids with disabilities, and when I got to be there with you, something ignited inside of me. I finally confessed how I felt about you my senior year in high school, and you, already twenty three, took me up on it. We traveled the summer before I moved away to college. I remember feeling both loved and smothered by you - it was too intense in some ways for a young girl, and yet part of me loved the intensity. I know it was real love.

When I went to college, nine hours away from home, you wanted me to call nightly. I was missing out on college life. I remember I was opening in brave new ways, like moving my body for the first time, uninhibited, to the drums in the African Dance class. But I’d have to pull myself away to make sure to catch your phone call. I started to feel conflicted.

When we got pregnant over fall break of my freshman year, unplanned, I knew by Thanksgiving. I remember I started puking early in the pregnancy, and in the dorm toilets, gagging daily at the site of shared showers and clogged drains. I subsisted on plain bagels and orange juice. My first thought upon hearing I was pregnant was, “No one can know.” I went to the college counselor and cried and cried that my mother was going to hate me. She gave me the information on abortion. I knew somewhere deep inside that there was no way this child was not meant to come into the world. One way or another, for everything it meant, this pregnancy was happening.

As I write this, I call you to ask you to tell me the details, because my brain only begins to remember my pregnancy and my experience with my pregnancy and not many details of our relationship from the moment I found out. It was as if my head went down and stayed down, with a mix of protection and shame. You remind me that yes, you drove nine hours the day after you heard, and we spent the weekend together. You urged me to connect with you, to make a plan. When you left to go home, you said I called my parents, and after that, our relationship became disconnected.

I moved back home to Pennsylvania, into my parents’ house, at the end of my first semester of college to have this baby the following July. You wanted to help. You wanted to be a family. It terrified me. My parents were so angry. I allowed myself to ignore you. I allowed the distance to be enforced, and heavily. My father took over. Law enforcement was involved.

You were losing your child.

My family brought home information about adoption, and yes, I’ll say that they pushed it, though, ultimately, all responsibly is of course my own. It’s why I have to write this letter.

I didn’t speak to you for at least the last half of the pregnancy. The social worker from the adoption agency was your point of contact. We chose a family in New Jersey, a state with a “once and done” signing of surrender seventy two hours after the birth. After her birth, still in the hospital, the social worker told me that three weeks prior, your house had burned to the ground while you were working the night shift. Your two best friends, animals, and all of your belongings were lost in the fire.

My mind couldn’t grasp the depth of this loss then. I knew it was devastating and I still didn’t reach out. There was so much confusion. By this time, I believed you were dangerous. How did my heart turn so ambivalent to your condition? To this suffering? I called you when our daughter was two, for the first time. You told me later that you actually answered the phone high as a kite, you were so lost in drug use by that point.

You had been working the night shift to make extra money to support your child, should I change my mind. I never really knew how badly you wanted to show up for us, how prepared you actually were to make it work. My parents told me that I could not depend on you, and I believed them. I spent my entire life believing that no man really did want to show up for me. You sat across from me seventeen years later and explained how you so, so deeply had wanted to.

This is a letter of apology. I know that I was young, that I was far too impressionable, and yet, I denied you your child.

Women can do that. And they often do. And, it’s wrong. You are one man in a sea of men who have been denied their rights, openly shamed, and forcibly pushed out of their child’s lives.

I denied you participation in conversations about her fate. I denied you connection that our bond actually deserved, as our love had been real. I denied you meeting your daughter in the womb, or in the hospital, and the way you were framed has lead to you not yet meeting your daughter, now eighteen. I denied you your place in her childhood.

I allowed myself to believe that you were a monster that I needed to protect my child from, where for the life of me, in the last five years as I look back now, I can not find any evidence that this was ever true.

How do I ever apologize? I have tried. You have said that I am forgiven. I know this is true, and I am blessed by your graciousness. Your genuine nature. Your love. We know that life shapes us. We know that this is all for reasons far bigger than you or I alone.

How many men are called monsters and denied their own children? You and I both know a few. And that is why I write this now. To all the men, on behalf of all the women who also find themselves with a relatable truth through my story. We live in a world of women’s liberation, and yet, it is not healthy if women are using their status as Mother to overpower the decisions of Father. We need to invite men to the table. Mothers will always have that special protective role, and yet, you wanted to help. You wanted to be there. What we believe is protection of our children is sometimes harmful, harmful denial and projection.

Our daughter, therefore, was also denied access to you. When she went with her family at birth, I sent written letters, stories, and pictures. I know I sent the one of you in the tree on the hill at Warren Wilson College. I don’t think she ever saw it and I don’t know why her parents would not have shared that with her. As I share an open adoption with her family, when she was sixteen, her family and mine were on the beach together. My son, then, six, playing with her in the waves, her mother said, “She has some questions about Jeremy.”

I only ever really offer information when she asks, which is hardly ever, but am always happy to do so. She wanted to know your last name that day, and I asked her if she was going to look you up. She was getting curious. I realized she hadn’t seen pictures. I asked her if she knew who you were or how we’d met, and she said no. I was shocked. She was a sixteen year old young woman at the time, and I said as my mind swirled to realize she didn’t know, “Oh my, oh my. You, my dear, were conceived in love.”

By that time, you and I had begun to talk again, to find healing. I knew that you were safe and that that old feeling of guardedness had largely subsided. I told her there on the beach that day everything I could in the moments that I knew would be too short. I told her how we met, of your good heart, why I had fallen in love with you, that you were an artist like her. I told her about your dimples and how handsome you are. I made connections to her athleticism and yours. I tried to begin to restore your honor. I said, “These are your stories. You can ask for them whenever you want.”

You and I both are still waiting for her to ask for more.

I know you love her. I know it broke you to lose her, and I carry your heart in my heart now, because that’s how I love you. We talk. We became friends again. You support me in my unabashedly risky endeavors to start a business aligned with my soul purpose, and you honor how this has all shaped me too. We text one another on her birthday, reaching across that heart space of two birth parents with our own version of the story of that day.

We sat across from one another last year in a conversation that was such a gift, it changed my life. And I would venture to say that it changed yours too.

You have land now, you build things with your hands. You escaped the early self-sabotaging behaviors in the years after her birth where addiction could have taken you down, thank God.

You pull yourself up. You do what you have to do. You find heart. You are beginning to create again. You are planting orchards and have dreams of opening your animal farm up to children with disabilities.

Every morning, I put a spoon into the honey that you send to me now from your hives. The sweetness is profound. That I am standing here, back for the last decade in the mountains where our daughter was first conceived, with your forgiveness blessing my heart and your honey in my mouth, is more a gift than I can say.

I am sorry.

I am sorry and I am grateful that we both understand that this imperfect and wounded life can also bring eventual healing. I am grateful that you allow me to tell our story such that it might also allow for others’ healing.  

She’s in college now. She doesn’t know it, but she picked your original major. I see in my mind a vision that I trust will come true. The house you are building is finished on your wide open acreage. Your orchard is producing. You are painting again, those incredibly talented portraits and landscapes; I imagine the final evidence of your heart’s liberation. And she and I drive up. We walk through the orchard, the three of us. The sweetness of truth and life and honey on our tongues.

IMG_3867.JPG



The necessary embodiment of men.

I'm not a man and I'm not in the body of a man. But I do love men and observe them closely. 

I've studied men, and, for reasons only my Soul knows (in other words, I'm not aware of all of them yet), I am here to be of service to men. (And women. And everyone in between. Of course.) 

But men, and white male men, are suffering. They are. I happen to be born a woman amongst mostly white middle class men. It is said that these men are the most privileged, the ones with the most power. However, 7 out of 10 suicides in the US are committed by white males, mostly middle aged. 

So, we're not getting it right. And here I find myself, advocating for the group that is supposedly the most privileged and the least wanting... because who is going to advocate for supposedly privileged white men? It's not emotionally safe for white men to advocate for themselves most of the time. If they do, can you imagine the backlash?

"You're the most privileged and yet you want more. Oh POOR you." For example. 

When #metoo was happening, and a male friend was adamant that men should be included in that movement, himself having experienced sexual abuse at the hands of his father, I insisted he was wrong to say that men were being left out of that movement. Yes, be acknowledged, be uplifted, but not immediately upon a women's movement. My thinking at the time was that we needed to allow women to have that movement.

Maybe I was wrong. Because when are white men going to get a movement? 

Right. They're not. 

I love men and I have NOT had an easy life with men. I want to make that clear. I am not daddy's girl. That man is a blessing in my life but he's not easy. I have an ex-husband. After I got divorced, which was really something I felt needed to happen as I was walking back into reclaiming what had been lost of my own feminine and soulful nature, I spent a year alone. I was so traumatized in my body from a lifetime of held trauma, anxiety, nervousness, and lack of esteem that I went to Hakomi (somatic) therapy every week. 

A year later, an old friend of mine saw how tattered I still was, and he extended to me that if I needed a safe space to "come back," he would be that. You could laugh at this - see it as a man saying he was willing to get laid - or you could see the healing gesture in this. That's what it was. I said yes, and through the way that man puts his hands on my body, meanwhile also of course holding a safe emotional space, I was able to realize safety in ways that my traumatized and fragile self never had. 

Over the course of a year with him, in the hands of a man, I was able to heal. 

I really want both men and women to hear me say this. When I opened to a man, who was present to my process, I learned a greater depth of me. So often we stay separated from other humans and true trust based on our previous traumas - and this happens even if we're married and functionally having sex with someone for years! True leaning in is another story. 

Fast forward years later and here I am advocating for men. Why? 

The suicide rates. Men tell me that they think of suicide more often than most people going about their ho-hum lives ever know that men are considering. 

And I could go on about a million other ways that men are suffering, but today, this one really hit me: 

Being someone who has personally learned that my body is central to my healing, as someone who can say #metoo and has a trauma history that made it difficult for me to be comfortable in my body for a long time, I don't think that we have made it safe for men to be in men's bodies either.

Generally speaking, we haven't made it safe for men to have wants, urges, anger, emotions, rage, sexual desires, silence, voice, or to utilize their own bodies in ways that express all of the above. I wonder what men have to say about this. 

I was getting all of these Facebook requests over the last few months from men wishing me "love and light" and I started asking myself what in the world was going on. I do embodiment work and shadow work. I do deep archetypal work with men and hold space for them to explore their Sovereignty and masculinity. We don't find the archetypal masculine through love and light, so what is going on? 

Oh. 

Because we don't have healthy cultural rites of passage for men, or elders who understand true masculinity to teach our younger boys, and because we have a culture that doesn't build men up but then tears them down for being who they are, it's not safe to be a man. It's not safe to be in a man's body. It's not safe to have wants and needs like those listed above (sex, rage, voice or no voice, etc). 

I spent the last year in a relationship with a strong man. He looked like a Warrior. He was a Lover. He loved the mystery of the Magician. He desired the King. Our souls danced. Our bodies were like magnets in ways that I never knew bodies could be. We explored the depths of eros. And then, it got too real. (My words.) It got too real. There wasn't safety in eros, he seemed to realize. There wasn't predictability, and to stay with me would have been to allow himself into uncharted territory, and sometimes uncharted feels unsafe. And in his 48 years on this planet, he had set up a lot of safety. 

He desired physicality. He desired the embodiment we experienced. I will say that in our relationship, embodiment was central. Being in the body was required and incredibly joyful. And yet it seemed to be too real, too much proof of something he couldn't turn himself fully over to, because to do so would have meant getting in touch with deeper parts of himself. I think the relationship was too much of an invitation for him to lose control, and loss of control felt unsafe. And in the end, he shut himself off to it, finally saying to me, "I choose to be a simple man of God." 

And so I experienced this retreat, from safety found in the body, back to the safety and predictability of God, of "love and light" over human connection. And I'm no wild woman, so really what was offered in that relationship was simply Real. 

I believe that culturally, we haven't made it acceptable for men to lose control, to be fully sensual, to want what they want, to know their bodies, to not fear their own desires. We haven't made it safe for men to express themselves, be angry, or simply want to get fucked, without also being a culture that shames men, tells them to put away their desires, and have it safely all under predictable control. 

For example, my son is nine, and for years, his impulse is to play and pounce, and for years, he's been told to keep his hands to himself. It starts young. 

And so instead we have a culture of men who take refuge in some god or spiritual practice, and we have a culture of high suicide rates among men. Or they turn to alcohol, or porn, or gaming, or other means of shutting themselves down. Surely, spirituality is preferred to all of the latter, and I still advocate that we look at the escapism inherent in all of it. 

I want to invite men back into their bodies. Back into their truth. I believe in you. We need you, strong and embodied. Our boys need you to show them a new way. When you are embodied, you can access your truth, feel more resilient even while vulnerable, you can access these archetypes if you choose, and you know better how you want to conduct your whole self in the world. When you're embodied, you don't just want to fuck, you want to feel. 

What could this look like for you? When do you feel strongest in your body? Is there a race you can train for, or a pick up sport you can join? How can you get into your body every day? I believe that there is possibility there. 

Screen Shot 2018-08-25 at 7.16.49 AM.png

 

 

My moody opinion on the needlessness of comparison

Today I'm pondering comparison. The reason, is, in fact, because when I share openly with the public, I often receive comments that demonstrate comparison. I have found it to be curious, for months now. And apparently today, I'm writing about it. Something boiled over. I think what happened is that I moved from the place where I am triggered by it into the place where I want to advocate that we pay attention to it. 

Ahh... that's evidence of the process right there. 

I am just going to allow myself to say something first that is true for me and yet simultaneously edgy today, with an air of defensiveness. I'm sure it includes some of my own shadow, and is egoic in nature, and yet I have to say it just once. And then I'll likely not need to go here again. 

I didn't start this life of authenticity just yesterday, or six months ago, or even this lifetime. Just because I recently made big changes in my life does not mean that I just recently started being bold, or being me. Nope. When folks decide to respond to what I write or put out there by congratulating me or showcasing some comparison of "I've been there once on my journey, aren't you so cute for having decided to do this now," the truth is that I immediately begin to analyze you and feel annoyed. Today, specifically, and to absolutely no one in particular, I just want to say fuck off. (With love, of course.)  Just allowing myself that just once. 

Let's look at it honestly. Why in the world do any of us feel a need to compare our process to someone else's? This is insane, and yet, it's so damn common! We think that there's some ideal place in which we are all "going" and we generally want to compare our way of getting there to another's. But I actually don't want to do that - like, backing-up-waving-my-hands-in-front-of-my-face don't want to do that. 

Each of us have a soul, and our soul is on our soul's journey, and for the love of all things divine and holy and soulful, don't compare that shit. Just don't. It's just not healthy AND it shows where we need more light shown on our own soul's path if our first reaction to others is to compare. 

So stop it. I mean, I'm putting myself out there, and so I suppose that I am not really able to get choosy about how others respond to what I share. Okay. But really, comparison is not ultimately serving you, or me, or the greater conversations the world needs to be having.

In the same regard, it also does not serve you to say "I wish I could do that, she's so strong...." Don't put me over or under you. Don't put you under or over. Get it? Comparison does that. It feels shitty regardless of whether your over or under, honestly. 

And Love, as an aside, you can. You can do this. That's the very reason why I share. I'm just one example that you can too be as authentically You as you'd like to be. You can be the you that you want to be, despite the old pressures of parents or that it doesn't fit your reputation at work or that you're a full time parent or that you tell yourself you are broke AF.

You, too, can be wildly intelligent and choose to say fuck all over the internet because it serves your Soul to finally break free and do so. ;)  For example. 

I support YOU BEing YOU. I'll BE me. Supporting the authentic nature of each is DIVINE intention. 

You know what kind of responses I love when I share authentically? Those that engage. Those that share a personal story. Those that simply express love from human to human. Those that go deeper. 

Okay, so yes, my own fragility. That's the other side of this coin. Since I care enough to feel it, I know that it's also inviting me to look at something in me. (I would say this to my clients. Dose of my own medicine.) 

And it is - it's my fragility. It's where I doubt myself that allows me to be triggered by any feedback of comparison. 

I do not share in order to get your approval. I do not share for your acceptance. I used to, but I needed to dig through that hell and I do believe I've damn near come out the other side of it. That's been my process. It peels in layers. I used to hide most of my light and allow others to just call the shots, and now, I show most of my light and still feel a twinge of yuck when you compare my process to your own apparently all-knowing one. (Battle of the egos.) But truthfully, you don't know the path that I've been on, and so when you read anything I write, just reflect on your own path. That's the point. 

I live a PATH. I live a JOURNEY. I do not live to an end-goal. I do not live to model perfection. (Another reason we compare - to evaluate who is closer to some ideal. Horseshit.)

If you'd like to know more about a recent unfolding I've given you mere snippets of, ask. But if you compare now, I might start laughing like a witch. 

I share story because here is what I know: My fight for my own voice has been the work of lifetimes. Lifetimes. My soul remembers MUCH silencing, and the trauma in this lifetime alone around needing to discover, stand up for, believe in, reclaim, and own my own voice has been immense. 

Immense. 

So when you respond with "aw, isn't that cute," right now, I pretty much want to explode. That's maybe the wacky hormones and the pitta and the retrograde planets talking, most likely. Because usually I don't go to straight to rage. 

When I own my weakness, it is not an invitation for you to position yourself above me. If you do this, look at your shit. 

When I own my story, and own that I am a work in progress, and you position yourself as being "further" on a path, look at your shit. 

When I own my trauma or pain or struggle, as an example of authenticity and process, and you want to give advice, look at your own shit. 

I have zero problem with where I am. I do a lot of personal work. I do not desire to engage in the details of comparison because I don't need or desire to - we are each on a personal path.  I am exactly who I am. To be here, owning my shit, owning my process, owning my voice, is absolute privilege. It took bravery and years of walking back to myself on purpose. It is a journey I will continue forever. I have zero problem with that, and, here's the thing, I fucking love my Soul and my Soul's journey. That being said, I love my simultaneously completeness and incompleteness - I love myself as is, and I love where I've been and where I'm going. 

So maybe I'm a little defensive that even though I share, you truly don't know the half of it, and if you are spending your time worrying about putting me into a box, shit, I'm just going to wish you well for all the opportunity you have in front of you to do your own work. 

I will not apologize, I will not play small, I will not compare mine to yours. 

I am not interested in comparisons. I am interested in connection, in sharing, in supporting one another. I am interested in honoring each individual path, for exactly where you are on your journey. If anything, that's what I am "modeling" by being me and by sharing in the way that I share. Even this semi-ugly blog post. 

As. Is. 

I will ask you to share your story. I will sit with you and encourage your own path. I will advocate that we all continue to lean closer to the voice of our own soul's whisper. And that we answer. 

This is what I do for my clients, essentially. I help you to answer your own calling by just being your sincere support. I have tools and can teach you things to accelerate and ground your path, but I'm here to officially encourage your authentic path. Your healing. Your reclamation of Soul from trauma and all that made you feel small. 

I want your truth and I want mine. It's raw. It's real. It's the only way I know. 

Sometimes my process looks loud, and always, it's wildly introspective. Wildly. To the point where I find it difficult to carry on in extroverted or even mildly social situations. 

So much of my process happens in the soul realms, it looks like following the next breadcrumb, even if that's into a dark place. It's mining for the truth. It's sitting for hours a day in meditation if that's what I'm called to do. It's sharing what I find and extending a hand. Honestly, when I'm in it, I often forget to look up. I'm potentially insanely selfish by definition. (There's probably research out there on soul-searching introverts and perceived selfishness. I don't care to look that up, but I'll leave my speculation here for you in case you relate and want to look it up for yourself. But guess what, IT DOESN'T MATTER! Be you.) 

Do you see that I truly don't give a fuck about the comparison? I just want us to share from the most authentic places within us. That's all I've ever wanted.  I want to share that with you, and you with me. Join me or not, but that's what I'm over here doing. I'm taking it all in. I have my son and my people and my clients all in my heart - I am mama bear that way, always. I don't go away. I don't stop listening and feeling for truth. But this is how I live - in this cycle of inward exploration, listening, discovering, resolving, offering, serving... As is. 

Just doing my best to be my best human on this soul ride. 

Thanks, bitches, for putting up with my sass and my dirty mouth. ;) 

I love you. Even if you compare. You know that. 

 

 

 

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

Screen Shot 2018-08-14 at 9.24.41 AM.png

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

Aligned action.png

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.

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. 

 

Screen Shot 2018-05-30 at 5.49.20 AM.png

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)

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)