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.