Tuesday, March 13, 2018

On the Anniversary of a New Beginning

by Elizabeth Venart

In March 2017, Brittiney George, Tracie Nichols, and I hosted our first community gathering for Highly Sensitive Persons. We have been excited and gratified to connect with over fifty highly sensitive women this past year – and to explore our innate strengths, challenges in embracing the gifts of high sensitivity, and the many forms of expression available to us as we welcome and stand in our power most fully.  This March, we led our first full-day retreat for Highly Sensitive Women, and it was a sweet and rewarding day of slowing down, connecting with our senses, tapping into our intuition, and learning to listen deeply to ourselves.

As Highly Sensitive Women, our empathy connects us to the emotional experiences of others and can make it difficult to stay tuned in to self. Becoming a highly sensitive leader, we need to develop our ability to return again – and again – to our breath and our senses as a way to truly distinguish between what is me and what is not me.

Tracie, Brittiney, and I began our conversation about working with Highly Sensitive Persons three years ago. After a two-year process of incubation, exploration, and discovery, we began to offer programs for the community. It was rewarding to begin slowly and intentionally – together. Over the course of the coming year, we will continue holding monthly gatherings for Highly Sensitive Women Leaders on the 3rd Wednesday of every month. We will also be offering full-day and, eventually, weekend-long retreats, inviting Highly Sensitive Women to come home to themselves, cultivate their gifts, and share them with the world. Our voices are stronger in community and, in community, we have an experimental playground in which we can begin stepping into leadership – together.

Elizabeth Venart is a Licensed Professional Counselor and the Founder and Director of The Resiliency Center. She is a Certified EMDR Therapist and EMDRIA-Approved Consultant who specializes in providing counseling and mentorship to other therapists and working to empower Highly Sensitive Persons to heal the wounds of the past so that they can embrace their gifts more fully and experience greater joy. Learn more at www.elizabethvenart.com.

Each Breath a New Beginning

by Karen Steinbrecher

When you begin to ponder the passage of time and how it goes so quickly, at least from our perspective, it’s easy to be overwhelmed.

Breathe deeply and take a few moments to cultivate conscious breathing. Thich Naht Hanh invites us to “really see the blue sky deeply.“ Being in touch with our awareness, our felt sense of the present moment, can heighten our experience and bring a slower, richer experience of life itself.  Life begins anew in each moment, with each breath. When we are mindful and in touch with the beauty of our world and one another, we can awake in the present moment to the wonder that abounds. Thich Naht Hanh is a Tibetan monk of Vietnamese origin. He says it is possible to be mindful in our daily life, even during our physical activities, and we accomplish this through Conscious Breathing. Mindful physical practices bring our body and mind together so “we can live our life more fully.” Daily practices, such as Yoga, Tai Chi, or the flowing movements of QiGong, cultivate Conscious Breathing and a deeper awareness of the present moment.

Breathe in Peace and Exhale Love, Compassion and Kindness to one another and to yourself. In our current existence, we go through cycles, change and flux. Accepting with a peaceful neutrality the non-permanence of all things allows for an appreciation of all things and people in our lives. Our minds may become caught up in planning, worrying, or working to accomplish yet another task in a never-ending cycle of strivings. These strivings may be very important to us, so we want to keep striving. And we can. But we can also pair our next activity with mindful, conscious breathing. Why not begin with your next inhale or exhale? Each breath an invitation – to be here now. 

Enjoy the moment in the dance of the life. I wish you health, happiness and harmony in All of Your Coming Breaths!

Karen Steinbrecher teaches QiGong on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Resiliency Center. To learn more, contact her at karensteinbrecher@msn.com.

A Satisfying Ending Needs A Good Beginning

by Tracie Nichols

A few years ago I drove my youngest son to New England to start a dream summer job at a mountain bike park.

My son loves downhill biking. LOVES it. He’d be working with a good friend. They’d found an apartment they could share. He could save money for school and do something he loves all summer long. On paper, this seemed like a charmed opportunity for him.

The trip was a disaster in nearly every way possible.

Esme, my faithful orange car, broke down. When we finally reached his apartment the landlord was unprepared and unavailable, meaning no key and no moving in. This after many text messages confirming our arrival time. At the mountain, his future boss was out sick. He couldn’t check in and get his work schedule or his ride pass so he couldn't be at the mountain that day.

Marooned with no place to be, we stood there at the base of the mountain he'd hoped to be riding all summer, worried and bewildered.

It felt like a truly awful beginning, but it was really a truly awful ending to a journey begun without focused attention from everyone involved. The beginning actually happened weeks before; a tiny trail of haphazard communication among just my son and his friend.

They were communicating through the exhaustion and worry of their finals, the busyness of a sister’s graduation and the chaos of visiting family. Their passion and enthusiasm were driving the bus. Thoughtfulness was half a mile behind, out of breath and losing ground fast. Despite good intentions, this bus had “Yikes!” written all over it.

All of us had divided attention when talking about this opportunity: kids, parents, landlords and employers. As my son and I stood at the bottom of the mountain that day, we both realized we’d had gut feelings of unease we shrugged off because everything looked good on the surface. And, because it seemed like such an exciting, not-to-be-missed opportunity.

What we all learned from our experience is that beginnings have their best chance of becoming satisfying endings when everyone involved commits their full, thoughtful attention to the planning process. If they share gut feelings as they arise, and respectfully call out anyone who isn’t fully participating.

Clear, honest communication is essential at every step. I know that seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many endeavors are launched driven by passion and enthusiasm without the map of thoughtful, honest communication.

The next time you’re beginning something new, anything from getting a new dog to transitioning out of a corporate job to open your own business, here are a few suggestions for making it a good beginning:

1.     Check in with your intuition and ask if this project is truly viable. If it involves considerable resources and affects the lives of other people, consider verifying your choice with trusted advisors.
2.     Ask yourself what a satisfying journey will look and feel like. How would you like this process to end? Be sure you have a clearly drawn map, and then turn your passion loose to keep you moving.
3.     Enjoy your passion and enthusiasm, and consciously invite your mind and intuition to join the party. (Deep breaths can help navigate over-exuberant enthusiasm.)
4.     Think about who needs to be part of the conversation. Does it feel realistic to ask for their focused attention for this project? If not, is there someone else you can invite?
5.     Pause often and ask yourself if you are fully present. Are mind, enthusiasm and gut all paying attention? How about everyone else?
6.     Enjoy the ride!

Tracie Nichols is a holistic business coach offering coaching that’s comfortably practical with its roots in nature-informed solutions. She helps body-centered practitioners and highly sensitive women build successful businesses guided by the wisdom of their bodies and the natural world. You can learn more or drop her a line at TracieNichols.com.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Thoughts on Transitions

by Karen Steinbrecher

I was recently inspired by Bill Douglas, Founder of World TaiChi QiGong Day, who shared the following: "When those unfamiliar with TaiChi or QiGong begin a class, they think that they can learn how to do the slow, liquid, flowing movements by physically mimicking them."

But those of us who actually perform these liquid dreamlike flowing QiGong movements after much practice...know that it is not just a physical journey, it was, is a journey of the heart, mind and body....learning how to "let go" of our mental, emotional and then eventually our physical grip on ourselves and the world.

Then we find along the way, that people find us easier to get along with because our rough edges have been EXHALED and RELEASED over hours, months, years and perhaps decades of mind-body exploration and practice.

This is my short-version story, experience of QiGong after 20 yrs. of practice, continuous learning about myself and connecting, healing with others - you.  QiGong is a tool, a bridge to EFFORTLESSLY flow through life, its TRANSITIONS, many many experiences. Let the Qi flow with Joy and Good Health.  

Karen Steinbrecher leads QiGong at the Resiliency Center on Tuesdays at 2:30 pm and Thursdays at 6:20 pm. Cost is $10.00 for a one-hour class. Learn more and pre-register by contacting Karen at karensteinbrecher@msn.com

Natural Transitions

by Heather Hill, MSS, LCSW

When I was pregnant with my first child, I took a day long wilderness therapy workshop in the the Wissahickon Valley Park.  There, I was invited to do some solo time and sat on a high rocky outcrop of Wissahickon Schist looking down at the creek below.  I was eager to capture this time of waiting and knew I was anxious about navigating this huge transition in my life.  My attention was drawn to a yellow leaf being carried by the current over rocks and little waterfalls.  When the leaf got stuck for a minute or two on some debris, it didn’t resist or bobble in a fit of frustration.  It was soon taken over by the current and went on its way.  When I shared this experience with others in my group, I was told that the leaf was a metaphor for childbirth and parenting.  What I needed to transition into my new role as a mother was to surrender to the process of life and let go of my former role to take on a new one.  The image of the leaf comes back to me often to remind me to trust life, to be part of its flow, or at least not to become frustrated when I get stuck in the debris.  

Two important processes happened that day to allow me access to the wisdom embodied in the natural world:  the observation and the sharing with a group.  My observation wasn’t connected to my inner world until it was received and heard by the group.  I’ve carried that image with me over time.  Although I’ve returned to nature many times seeking wisdom and comfort, no image has stood out for me as prominently as that little yellow leaf. 

I invite you to discover new meaning and wisdom for your own transitions as well as to build connections with the natural world and a community of fellow seekers. Register for one or all four of my Ecotherapy workshop, held from 9 am to 12 pm:  

Natural Connections: Exploring Wellness and Wholeness Throughout the Seasons
Spring Equinox 3/24
Summer Solstice 6/23
Fall Equinox 9/22
Winter Solstice 12/22

Heather Hill is a Licensed Clinical Social Workers providing counseling to pre-teens, teens, and adults. She uses a humanistic and wholistic framework and incorporates ecotherapy with traditional evidence-based practices. To learn more and to register for one of her programs, contact her at 215-485-7205 or heatherhilltherapy@gmail.com.

Making Peace With Your Teen Transitioning to Adulthood

by Lisa Grant-Feeley, LPC

Transitions are the experience of moving from a place that is familiar to a place that is new, different and unfamiliar. The transition a teen faces as they move from being a child who is protected and governed by a parent to an adult who is responsible for protecting and governing themselves can be a difficult time for them: both exciting and frightening. 

Teens are in a stage of life in which they are struggling to reach the stage of independence and their parents are transitioning from being responsible for their children’s safety and welfare to preparing them to face the world on their own. 

For many teens, this is a confusing and frightening time.  Questions like, “Will I be able to handle being on my own?” “Will I make the right choices?” “Will I be successful?”  “How will I know what to do?” The world can seem a scary and lonely place when not returning to the safety of a home and family at the end of each day.  On the other side of the coin, they are driven to independence, which is the next stage of their development.  They long to be self determined, to not have “someone always telling them what to do” which is how it can seem to them, to test themselves and to answer the many questions they have about themselves and their abilities. 

For many parents, this can also be a frightening and confusing time.  Parents remember the tiny, vulnerable infants who are now moving away from their care in an effort to become independent adults.  Even though that is the ultimate goal of parenting, that moving away can be a painful, conflict-filled time.

Having someone to guide both the teen and the parent through these uncharted territories can be supportive and helpful.  By helping the teen learn to evaluate their values and priorities for themselves and develop a strong, self-directed inner voice, they can begin to see themselves as competent and capable.  This makes the uncertainty of the future less anxiety-filled as they become the captain of their ship. 

Lisa Grant-Feeley is a Licensed Professional Counselor who supports teens and their families.    She works from strength based perspective and utilizes a person-centered approach.  If I can support you on your journey, please reach out to connect at lisagrantfeeley@gmail.com  or 267-625-2565.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Beauty of You: A Love Note from Your Body

by Brittiney George

You are a beautiful imperfection.
I know that makes you uncomfortable, because you want to be perfect.
Ahh...my child.  I do not work in perfection...humans do. 

Perfection assumes completion.  But how can you be complete when the world around you, and in you, is full of so many glorious options for miraculous change?

I work in magical mysteries, in awe inspiring moments of truth and clarity.
I commend you for wanting to better yourself.  But I ask you to not try to perfect yourself. That implies you are flawed. You are not flawed.

You are a colorful mosaic reflecting the experiences of your life.
Instead of berating yourself for all that you do not know;
Breathe. Listen. Explore with me.

You are more than a number on a scale, a title in a job, the pain or fear that you feel.

You are a gift.

If you don’t believe me, journey with me.
Let me show you how amazing and resilient you truly are.