Friday, April 30, 2021

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.

 

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 try not 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.

 

Brittiney George, BS, CST-PRO, ICI, CEIM, is a Movement Practitioner and Somatic Therapist specializing in Transformative Touch and is a faculty trainer and mentor for The Somatic Therapy Center.  She is also the creator of the comic www.thisweekwithjoy.com.  Her areas of specialty include working with highly sensitive persons (HSP’s), and helping people feel unstuck when they feel bogged down by life.  For information contact Brittiney at 610-389-7866 or movebackintolife@gmail.com. 

 

Thursday, April 29, 2021

The Benevolence of Beauty

by Elizabeth Venart

 

The wonder of the Beautiful is its ability to surprise us. With swift, sheer grace, it is like a divine breath that blows the heart open. – John O’Donohue in Divine Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

 

When the world of man closed its doors in March last year, the natural world invited us outside to connect and play. Through gardening and time spent in local parks and our own backyard, we found in nature a natural balm to the weariness of an intense and fear-filled time. Nature can be a welcome antidote to stress and boredom. It provides an alternative to the rowing machines and well-worn tracks of the gym. It can also offer us something that stretches far beyond simple diversion or exercise. A walk in nature can be an immersive experience, calming our nervous system and shifting our perspective.

 

When we allow ourselves to inhabit fully the landscape of the present moment, we can delight in the magic of the changing seasons, marvel at the miracle of flowers rising through asphalt, and consider with humility our place among the living things on this planet. Our world as people may have ground to a halt in many ways, but the rest of the natural world continued. I watched how the birds outside my kitchen window built nests, as they do each year, fed their babies, plucked worms and seeds from the ground. I delighted in the birdsong each morning, the brilliant colors of fall, the snow bathing tree limbs with pearl luminescence.

 

Life always has its challenges. Beauty is always there when our eyes are ready to experience her. A child’s laugh, a cloud-speckled sky, a mother fox and her five babies, a warm embrace from a friend we haven’t seen in too long.

 

As the wheel of the year continued to move in its circular rhythm through the seasons, my fond anticipation of the daily walk only strengthened. “I wonder how that cherry tree will look today. . . Will the rhododendron bushes have loosened their tight buds and exploded into pink today?” Bringing a sense of wonder to my daily walks (or wanders when I had more time) imbued my days with delight.

 

The newsletter this month – and our social media – will focus on Beauty. I will be sharing photographs taken during my daily walks over the past year. You will see what my eyes saw, as I walked through my neighborhood delighting in the unfolding beauty of each season.  These images are moments that captured my attention, fascinated and moved me. While some are blossoms and a glimpse of a flower at the peak of its brilliance, others include transition points between the seasons, moments of awe, and the beauty of growth and decay intermingled.

 

As John O’Donohue so beautifully expresses in Divine Beauty: The Invisible Embrace:

 

The graced eye can glimpse beauty anywhere, for beauty does not reserve itself for special elite moments or instances; it does not wait for perfection but is present already secretly in everything. When we beautify our gaze, the grace of hidden beauty becomes our joy and our sanctuary.

 

My wish for each of you is the eye to “glimpse beauty anywhere” and to savor and delight in this experience.

 

Elizabeth Venart is the Founder and the Director of The Resiliency Center and a Licensed Professional Counselor whose practice focuses on supporting Highly Sensitive Persons, therapists (through counseling and consultation), and creative and intuitive people seeking more magic in their lives. She leads a weekly laughter yoga class and hosts a monthly Rumi and Friends Spiritual Poetry Evening to which all are welcome. To learn more, visit her website.

 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Getting Unstuck

by Trudy Gregson, MS, LPC

 

I had this idea for an article about what keeps us stuck and how to become unstuck, but I kept getting stuck. For real. Would it resonate with readers? Would it be any good? Would people think I’m not good for writing a not-good article? I laughed to myself. I think I’m on to something!

 

I went for a run, my first run in quite a while. I listened to a book while I ran, my mind wandering occasionally off the narrator’s tale to my article idea and the possibility that I wouldn’t find a better idea, then to thoughts about missing the deadline, and possible ways to get out of writing it. I’d feel a little tension and then brush the thoughts away. When I got home and my breath and my heart rate gradually returned to normal, some space opened up. I grabbed a notebook and pen.

 

As I sat there in the aftereffects of my run, I got curious. What was the fear about the article? It wouldn’t be interesting or helpful. I don’t have enough to say on the topic. It won’t be up to the standards of the community for whom I’m writing.  And if any of those things are true, then what?

 

Sitting in this calm, curious state, I stayed with the fear. I set aside the words and the feelings that told me to panic and asked them to wait a few minutes so I could get to know this feeling of fear of not being good enough. I got comfortable with just sitting with it. I thought of the compassionate words of Kristin Neff, author of the book, Self-Compassion: “Everyone is imperfect.” Writing is imperfect. I’m imperfect. Feeling some compassion for my imperfection was like a weight off my shoulders. It just didn’t seem to matter as much how my article was received. It felt more important just to share it from my heart, with the intention that it might resonate with some readers, and it might help them with their own feelings of “stuckness.” And I’d meet my deadline.

 

As I settled into these feelings of compassion, my fear felt heard, cared for, understood.  It didn’t feel so pressing. There was space for the writing to happen, to unfold in its own imperfect way. I felt clarity. I will write an imperfect, possibly helpful, certainly heartfelt article. And that will be good enough.

 

One of the reasons people come to therapy is because they’re feeling stuck in some way. They so badly want something to change, but something else is holding them back. The belief is that if only they could get past that thing that’s holding them back, they could achieve their goal, get what they need, be happier. Like a car stuck in the mud, our impulse is to spin our wheels to become unstuck. But what if feeling stuck is actually an invitation, an opportunity to explore a fear that we didn’t fully realize was there?

 

I’ve noticed that the part of us that wants to move forward is usually the one that gets all the attention. That’s the one that asks a friend for advice, or makes a therapy appointment, or agitates about writing the article. So we double-down, trying to devise a strategy to solve this problem. Paradoxically, the more we double-down, the more stuck we get. Because the one with the power – the fear – is being ignored, avoided. Because it’s uncomfortable and a little scary.

 

The fear is the one who stands by, shaking its head thinking, “Try all you want, but you’re not going anywhere, because I’m afraid if we go there, you won’t be safe. And my job is to keep you safe.” It’s a basic survival instinct. And then it’s a tug-of-war between wanting something to change and the fear of what will happen if something changes.

 

We start becoming unstuck when we stop trying to push through the fear and instead, open up some space and give it some attention. Bringing some curiosity to it: “I wonder how this fear that keeps me stuck is trying to help me?” As hard as this may be to believe, its intentions are good, even if it frustrates us. So we listen.

 

There are other ways to open up space besides running. I know I’m not alone in getting some of my best ideas in the shower. Perhaps it’s the rhythm or warmth of the water, the pulsating sensation on the skin, or the absence of distractions that opens up some space in one’s mind. Some people open up space by meditating, or stroking their dog or cat, or doing any task mindfully. There’s something about being immersed in the sensory experience of a run or a walk, a shower, a pet, or even gently scrubbing soapy dishes that magically opens up some space.

 

This space provides an opening for us to bring attention and some kindness to the fear, allowing it to soften enough to tell you why it does what it does. Then the opponents in this tug-of-war can discover that they actually have the same goal, a desire to protect you from the same thing; they just have opposite ways of going about it.  When the thing they protect is healed, then they can work together to help you reach your goal instead of working against each other.

 

We’re all wired to fight, flee, or freeze in the face of fear. It takes courage to go towards the fear. So the next time you feel stuck, try noticing it as an adventure:  You’re at the beginning of discovering a fear, and if you can find even a drop of courage, you may experience feeling stuck as an exploration – and then the healing can happen.

 

Trudy Gregson, MS, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Counselor providing counseling to adults experiencing depression, anxiety, issues related to trauma, life transitions, and relationship struggles. Trudy customizes her approach according to each client’s needs, using Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS), Mindfulness, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as the foundation for their work together, helping clients to notice, bring compassion to, and find acceptance of their inner experience. To connect with Trudy, please email her at trudy@trudygregsontherapy.com or call her at 267-652-1732.


Thursday, February 11, 2021

The Role of Ritual

by Lisa Grant-Feeley, MS, LPC

 

As time appears to be paused and everyday feels like Blursday, it is becoming more and more difficult for us to give structure and meaning to our days, weeks, and months. As we spend increasingly more time with our families and less time out in the world, the routines and rituals of coming and going that signaled the start and finish of activities throughout the day have faded. The act of leaving and rejoining family or our pets or commuting to and from our work provided structure and created a rhythm to our day. Before the pandemic, getting up in the morning meant the start of a specific day with specific things to do and included interacting with others in a real “in person, in the same room, within reach” sort of way that we didn’t even know we could miss. 

 

All of these things naturally created rituals throughout our lives. We might not have thoughts of them as rituals, necessarily, but they were. Stopping for coffee and chatting with our favorite barista (or others who are waiting for their coffee), is a ritual that signals the start of the day and provides connection. Going into your workplace and working beside co-workers is a ritual that provides community and purpose. Coming home from work, greeting your family, and changing into comfortable clothes is a ritual that signals the end of the work day and provides safety and belonging. Making a big breakfast and sitting with family on the weekend is a ritual that signals it’s time to slow down, rest and enjoy being together. As Erika Keswin explains in her book, Rituals Road Maps, rituals ground us and provide a psychological sense of safety through connection, purpose and belonging.

 

By getting in touch with your most essential values, you can create rituals that can provide a higher level of meaning in various aspects of your day. For example, if you value nature, you can create a ritual of bundling up at the start or end of the workday, stepping outside for five minutes to look at the sky, and taking a few deep breaths as you listen for birds singing. If you value nourishing time alone, you can create a 20-minute bathing ritual at the end of the day - lighting a candle, playing some spa music on your phone, and using a body wash that appeals to your sense of smell and touch. If work feels like it’s overwhelming, you can set an alarm at the top of every hour and do a 2-minute rest and rejuvenate ritual where you walk away from the computer and stretch, breathe, and drink some water infused with mint, lemon, or basil. 

 

The trick with rituals is to be fully absorbed in them, totally focused on the purpose and value. Instead of allowing your mind to stay on a stressful assignment while you attempt to rest and rejuvenate, ritual invites you to be fully aware, to commit to this time and really feel your breath, connect with your body as you stretch, and to taste the life-nourishing water you are providing your body. It is by being totally present in the moment that your ritual has the power to release stress and increase the feel-good hormones in your body and mind.

 

Two of my favorite daily rituals involve how I begin and end my day. I set an intention for the day either by taking a few deep breaths first thing in the morning when I wake up or as I sit quietly with my morning coffee. This intention is always value-based and preferably in touch with what I feel will be life-enhancing. The other is to end the day with gratitude for some thing or things that happened during the day for which I am grateful. Maybe it’s a conversation with a family member or friend, the walk I took, or the dinner I cooked and shared with my husband. 

 

I’ve included a link to some core values for work and life. Feel free to take a look, consider what you value and explore how you can create rituals for your days, weeks or months to add meaning and value-based structure to your life. Hopefully this will make the coming months, as we continue to navigate the effects of the pandemic, a bit easier to manage. 

 

Lisa Grant-Feeley, MS, LPC works with individuals and with children and teens in the context of their families. She specializes in working with individuals with ADHD and related behaviors, including anxiety and depression.  She is dedicated to helping families work to create peace in their homes by working with all members of the family.  To connect with Lisa, please call 267-625-2565 or visit her website lisagrantfeeleytherapy.com.  

 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Living with peace during COVID - by Dean Solon

For what are you most grateful as you look back over the year and why? I am most grateful to have awakened each morning to be breathing, to be alive, and to hope and pray that all those who are near and dear to me are breathing, alive, today

 

What did you take for granted this year? Much of the time, I was taking nothing for granted during this past year.

 

What did this reveal to you about yourself and your presence in the world? It is indeed a challenge to be peaceful and compassionate in the midst of chaos and commotion. 

 

Was there an unexpected joy that you experienced during this time?  The great opportunity of being at the shore sometimes, and with the great joy of the ocean's vast presence. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Spiritual fortitude in 2020 - by Tracey Smith

What is the most important thing that the year of Covid 19 has taught you?It has been a year of many lessons learned and still learning. The most important thing is to continue to strive for spiritual wellness and spiritual fortitude. I learned some new spiritual practices that helped sustain me day to day and moment by moment. Some days were extremely hard working through the traumas of events. Afraid if I started crying, I wouldn't stop. Fearful that I may have to choose between my health and my job. Compounded by the social unrest and not feeling safe as a black woman. While other days were joyful and grateful that my hour commute included seeing woods, streams, birds, flowers and horses. Joyful that I have an awesome life with no regrets. To summarize what Covid-19 has taught me, please see the poem below written by b.oakman:

 

I lied and said that I was busy.

I was busy;

but not in a way most people understand.

 

I was busy taking deeper breaths.

I was busy silencing irrational thoughts

I was busy calming a racing heart.

I was busy telling myself I am ok.

 

Sometimes, this is my busy- and I will not apologize for it.

Gratitude for life itself - by Jen Perry

For what are you most grateful as you look back over the year and why? My life ~ literally. I lost a shocking number of relatives at the beginning of March at the start of this pandemic. It was shocking and scary and felt terrible to not be together in our grief. I've found a renewed sense of purpose and vitality in planning all the things I want to do once it is safe to do so ~ in many ways it shook me out of a lot of the overwhelm and bogged-down-ness of middle adulthood.

 

What did you take for granted this year?I think I took time for granted ~ my relationship with time was really strange this year. When the pandemic started I really thought it would be over in a matter of weeks ~ which turned into months as we all know .... some days stretched on forever and then suddenly I can't believe so many months have gone by and I haven't seen people I love. I think I'm more aware of my middle-agedness and that I don't have unlimited time to do all the things I want to do.

 

What did this reveal to you about yourself and your presence in the world?Absolutely all of us matter. We never realize how much we mean to each other. Life is a lot of fun and an adventure ~ I can't wait to get back out in the world. 

 

What new hobby or old pastime did you take up or revive during this time? I started art journaling.

 

Was there an unexpected joy that you experienced during this time?I found joy in the moments with my kids that required extra thought ~ to make their birthdays special in an unusual way, playing more board games than social outings, digging in and really being more present to each other. 

 

What is the most important thing that the year of Covid 19 has taught you?I really, really, really miss hugs. Life is too short to put off joy.