Awakening, Coaching, craniosacral therapy, Habit Change, Massage Therapy, Mindset, Trauma

Aging + Butts, Guts, & Breath

How old are you?  How old do you feel?  Did you know that there can be a different between your chronological age and your biological age?
 
I’ve been repeatedly hit over the head with this concept as of late.
 
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been trying to pay attention to my thoughts about getting older, but, dammit, I keep getting sucked back into the Matrix (aka Instagram)!  I start scrolling and see all the ways we gradually crumble as we age, and everyone has a very adamant opinion about what to do or what not to do in order to forestall or minimize this inevitability.
 
All of these messages hit me over the head with the negative aspects of aging, creating an anxious fear – telling me I should do more for my health – take more supplements, squeeze more health optimization into my day, buy more life-enhancing tools (saunas/red lights/crystals/special socks/etc.), give up more tasty things.  Yet I know I don’t have the time, money, nor energy to implement all these things that are MUST Dos, so then the overwhelm strikes, and my forehead puckers, and my breath hangs out in the shallows.  As my body marinates in this self-induced stress state, I notice more wrinkles, more stubborn pudge, more absentmindedness, and think, “Yep – they were right!  This is what happens when you get older.”
 
And then I’m reminded that all off the above is bullshit.
 
We are not the victims of our circumstances.  We have the power of choice over our thoughts.
 
And our thoughts can even influence how we age.  If we view aging as an opportunity to become more authentically US, a time to leverage our wisdom and explore new opportunities, then a new world of possibility opens up.  If we are curious instead of fearful about what the next stage of life can offer to us, we can open up more space to find our way.  We are not condemned.
 
Here are the 3 podcasts that have appeared in my life recently to remind me, “Heather – Watch what spells you are putting on yourself with your thoughts!”
 
Midlife is a Chrysalis, not a Crisis with Rich Roll and Chip Conley
 
Unspell Yourself: Words & Language to Break Free From Mental Slavery w/ Enlifted’s Mark England (Thanks for sending this to me, Lynn!)
 
The Mind-Body Connection, the power of mindfulness, and why age is nothing but a mindset with Rich Roll and Dr.  Ellen Langer (Thanks for sending this to me, Brea!)
 
And you want to hear something hilarious?  I already knew all the stuff they said in these podcasts.  I read about this stuff all the time.  I actually even wrote an article for Tune Up Fitness in 2019 about this topic:  Can Negative Thoughts Make you Sick – The Science of how Thinking Affects the Body.  I read, I believe, and then I forget.  I am assuming this likely happens to you too, which is why I’m talking about this topic YET AGAIN!  Let’s help each other reframe how we see the world, how we see what is possible for us, each other, our communities! 
 
One brief practice that could help you really FEEL how our thoughts and language affect our bodies and how our words change our experience of the world (this comes from the Unspell Yourself podcast) is as follows:

  1. Take a sentence that runs through your brain ad nauseum:
    1. I should start drawing every day.
  2. Replace Should with Could.
    1. I could start drawing every day.
  3. Replace Could with Can.
    1. I can start drawing every day.

 Did you notice how you moved from feeling “put upon” by the Should and moved into a place of empowerment with the Can?

Here’s another reframe, courtesy of Byron Katie’s The Work.  This is a sentence I hear A LOT, both from my clients and repeatedly from myself, “What is wrong with me??” 

  • How about: What is Right with me??
  • Or maybe, What is wrong with the WORLD, such that it causes me to feel there is something wrong with ME?

Interesting stuff!

And on a final note,

I WAS ON A PODCAST

Part of my 2024 mission is to do something every day that makes me non-comfortable.  When I’m comfortable all the time, life is cozy and boring and small.  My business coach invited me to be on her podcast, and I felt the fear and the excitement and said Yes!  Mindy is a consummate professional and made me feel so at ease.  If you are interested in origin stories, thoughts on how to get a handle on your solopreneurship, and how to take baby steps toward possibility, you can give it a listen here:  EP 176: Gaining traction in your bodywork business with Heather Longoria.

I wish you a most excellent week, full of questioning those default mode thoughts that are reinforcing old, outdated versions of you.  What is RIGHT with you?  What CAN you do? How can you choose your own adventure?

With love,

Heather

The Butts, Guts & Breath Tour

A guy goes to a psychiatrist. “Doc, I keep having these alternating recurring dreams. First I’m a teepee; then I’m a wigwam; then I’m a teepee; then I’m a wigwam. It’s driving me crazy. What’s wrong with me?”

The doctor replies: “It’s very simple. You’re two tents.”

If you’re too tense, you likely notice restrictions in your shoulders, your butt, your belly, and your breath.  I’m offering a class at One Strong Woman on 2/28 at 5:30PM.  We’ll be using Tune Up Fitness therapy balls, movement, and meditation to help escort you from feeling too tense to spacious and free.  We only have 10 spots open, so register here to secure your spot!


Space to be Human Lab

  • CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle, full-body therapy that is beneficial for improved sleep, decreased pain, and improved resilience.  You can book a session here.
  • Wellbeing coaching helps reconnect to your Self.  We partner together to identify what where you want to go, why you want to go there, and how to get there.  You can book a free consultation here.  For a limited time, I am offering a 6-session coaching package for $240.


QC Health & Wellness Pros Meetup

  • If you are a health & wellness practitioner, and you would like to connect with others in the healing field, you are invited to attend the QC Health & Wellness Professionals Mixer on 2/27 (we’ll have these monthly through April).  You can register here.


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Coaching, craniosacral therapy, Habit Change, Mindset

Maybe we actually CAN’T do it all

And that’s totally OK
 
“You need to learn how to start saying no to things you do want to do, with the recognition that you have only one life.”  Elizabeth Gilbert
 
I’m reading 4000 Weeks – Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman for the second time.  The first time I read it on my eReader, but then I had to buy the physical book because there were just too many passages that I wanted to underline, star, and highlight.  The core teaching of this book is that life is finite.  We have, on average, 4000 weeks to live, which means we have to make tough choices about how to spend our time.  We cannot DO all the things – all the laundry, all the exercise, read all the books, paint all the amazing landscapes, spend time with all our friends, pursue all the potential careers that tickle our fancy, etc.  As Elizabeth Gilbert so aptly said, not only do we need to say NO to those tasks that we don’t really want to do, but we also have to say no to tasks that we DO want to do, that are aligned with our values, and that are important. 
 
The author also notes that maybe the purpose of our lives, is not to be as productive as possible, but to experience more of the wonder of being alive. Hmmm….
 
When we think that by some magic combination of calendaring, To-Do lists, and self-discipline we will be able to get EVERYTHING done (and then we can finally let ourselves relax), we are fighting against reality. And we all know that that is a futile battle. We are setting ourselves up to fail from the get-go.  Here are a few reasons why we will never get everything done: 

  • Hofstadter’s law:  Any task you are planning to tackle will always take longer than you expect.
  • Parkinson’s law:  Work expands to fill the time available for its completion. If we clear the decks, more work will come down the conveyer belt to fill the void. 
  • Eigenzeit – A German word that means the time inherent to a process itself (p. 33).  Things take the amount of time they take.

What can we do about this situation?

  1. Make tough choices.  Ask ourselves – what really matters?  Am I doing the RIGHT things?  “You have to choose a few things, sacrifice everything else, and deal with the inevitable sense of loss that results” (p. 55).
  2. Tune in to gratitude – we have been gifted a life to live, and we get to (not have to) make choices about how we spend this precious, finite time, which is life.  If we could do EVERYTHING, there would be less value in it.  When we CHOOSE to do something, it’s meaningful because we are making a commitment to do THIS vs. THAT (p. 69).
  3. Pay yourself first – Work on the most important project the first hour of every day.
  4. Limit Work in Process – (Heather, Ahem, pay attention!!) – Limit the number of projects you are working on concurrently to 3.  Otherwise, when you get to a difficult part of your current project, you will switch to another project, etc. – never actually getting any project completed.
  5. Ask yourself – might the demands on us be unreasonable?  Will we ever succeed in being efficient and disciplined enough to get everything done that we are asked to do either by ourselves or by others?  If the answer is no, then you know the Ask is impossible, and you don’t need to berate yourself for failing at something that is impossible.
  6. Teach ourselves to stay with the anxiety, discomfort, and guilt of not getting it all done (because it’s impossible to do so).  “Most of us invest a lot of energy, one way or another, in trying to avoid fully experiencing the reality in our which we find ourselves” (p. 29).  If we could just let ourselves BE uncomfortable for a while, instead of frantically wishing that things were different and striving to make them so, what would happen?

There is so much more in this book that is blowing my mind and giving me food for thought about how I live my life.  But for now, I’m going to sign off and go experience a little wonder and magic, or at least try to sit with the uncomfortableness of not getting my house vacuumed this weekend. 😛

With love,

Heather

Space to be Human Lab

Here is how you can work with me:

  • CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle, full-body therapy that is beneficial for improved sleep, decreased pain, and improved resilience. Your body loves to be listened to!
    • If you would like to try this modality, you can book a free 30-minute introductory session here, and you can book a full session here.
  • Wellbeing coaching helps You figure out You.  We partner together to identify what where you want to go, why you want to go there, and how to get there.  You can book a free consultation here.  For a limited time, I am offering a 6-session coaching package for $240. 

The QCHWP Mixer is Back!

  • If you are a health & wellness practitioner, and you would like to connect with others in the healing field, you are invited to attend the QC Health & Wellness Professionals Mixer on 1/30 (and we’ll have these monthly through April).  You can register here

P.S.  Thanks for reading all the way to the end!  As a thank you, the first 5 people who respond to this email with their mailing address will get a “Recipe for Calm” card mailed to them.
 
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Coaching, craniosacral therapy, Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Meditation, Mindset

Push Off From Here

Well, it’s the last day of 2023.  That means I should be writing about goals, resolutions, last year’s reflections.    But my inbox is full of those, and I’m sure yours it too.  Instead I decided to share an exercise from the lovely book, Push Off From Here – Nine Essential Truths To Get You Through Sobriety (And Everything Else).
 
This book walks us through hard questions that guide us towards more closely examining (with empathy and gentleness), our shadow self – the parts of us that we try to hide away and pretend don’t exist, but which exert a tremendous influence on our actions.  One such powerful question is:
 
How am I choosing, creating, or attracting this situation?
 
Ooh boy. When I sat down and answered this question about where I am professionally and personally, I encountered some hard, enlightening truths.  These insights were informed by a book I just finished, Deep Work, which is about the need for deep, intense, undistracted work to create something of value. I realized that in so many ways, I am choosing the easy, shallow option when it comes to my career and to my personal health.  Let’s take the latter, for example.
 
I am 46 years old and entering that stage where one’s body goes all wonky due to tetonic shifts in hormones.  Or, at least that’s the story I have been telling myself.  I see the wrinkles becoming more obvious, the frotzy greys popping up, the pants that are feeling a little too tight, and I say, “Well, this is just what happens when a woman is almost 50.” 
 
And wow, what a disempowering thought to have. 
 
Which brings me to another essential truth from Push Off From Here – “It’s not my fault, and it’s my responsibility.” 
 
It’s not my fault that humans get older, but it’s my responsibility to nurture this body and to take care of it to the best of my ability.  Which is NOT what I’ve been doing.  Instead, I’ve been blaming age for what I’m experiencing in my body.  When I ask myself, “How am I choosing to age more quickly (biologically)?”, I realize the following: 

  • I am choosing inflammation by eating too much sugar, too much ranch dressing (so damn tasty), by drinking alcohol too regularly, by tidying up/doing dishes/checking Facebook instead of going for a walk or stretching.
  • I am choosing to spend my precious morning hours consuming more information instead of creating something new.
  • I am choosing to lounge in bed a few extra minutes instead of meditating.
  • I am choosing to believe that weight gain is inevitable as I age, even though I have evidence this is not true for everyone.  (There are some SUPER fit older women at my gym that are such a great example of what is possible).
  • I am choosing to believe that I am too old to be sexy and vibrant.
  • I am choosing mindless eating by watching TV while I eat.
  • I am choosing to reinforce bad habits by rewarding them with a dopamine rush (e.g. when I get an urge for a snack (usually due to boredom or because I am facing a challenging task), I reward that urge with a snack, and thus reinforce that pattern). 

I also do a lot of things to promote my health and wellbeing, but this exercise helped me shine a light on how many of my behaviors and beliefs are not serving me well.  And I am taking this information to heart and using it to form my intentions for 2024.

I guess I did end up talking about year-end reflections and goals for the next year, but that is where the Universe led me, and I am trusting the flow. 😛

I wish you a very happy, vibrant, engaging 2024!  Thanks for sharing your eyes with me, reading these letters, and sending me notes over this past year.  Writing is one of my most truest loves, and it means so much to be able to share it with you. If you have any topics you would like to hear about next year, please respond to this email.  I love your feedback!

<3

– Hlo

Space to be Human Lab
As you reflect on 2023 and determine what you would like to invite in for 2024, perhaps you’re realizing that you want more ease, health, and self-compassion.  Bodywork and coaching are two roads toward that destination.  Here is how you can work with me:

  • CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle, full-body therapy that is so beneficial for improved sleep, decreased pain, and improved resilience.
    • If you would like to sample this modality, you can book a free 30-minute introductory session here, and you can book a full session here.
  • It can be surprisingly difficult to know ourselves and to know what we want!  In coaching, we partner together to identify what where you want to go, why you want to go there, and how to get there.  You can book a free consultation here.  For a limited time, I am offering a 6-session coaching package for $240.

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Coaching, Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Meditation, Mindset, Pain

More & Less

Thanksgiving is in our rearview mirror, and Christmas is on the horizon, which means that 2024 is right around the corner.  Do you make New Year’s Resolutions or do any sort of planning for the upcoming year?  I don’t have specific goals yet for 2024.  But I have done some brainstorming on what I want for myself and what I want to infuse into my therapy practice.  Here is what I want in 2024:
 

MORELESS
GrowthSpinning
PausingRushing
BreathingHolding
SavoringRacing
TrustingFretting
AgencyVictiming
HopeDespair
ConnectingGoing it alone
BeingTo-Do-Ing
Listening to SelfListening to Others
SpaceTension
JoyAnxiety
MotionStagnation
WonderLogic
Self-CompassionSelf-Judgement
FluidSludge
CuriosityFear
FunDrudge
NoveltyRoutine
ExplorationDogma
WisdomOpinions
NatureBuildings
DiscomfortComfort

I loved doing this writing exercise. It was low-stakes, easy to get started, and the simplicity of it helped my monkey mind take a back seat. 


Here is me having Fun (instead of Drudge) – Mom made us homemade playdough on Thursday!!

What do you want more of?  What do you want to let go of? 

If you have 15 minutes, it might be interesting to make your own More/Less list and notice where it takes you, notice what surprises you, notice what happens in your body as you start dreaming about what life could look like if it was lived in more alignment with what you really care about.  Here is a 10-minute meditation that could help you tap in to your future self; it might give you some list inspiration!

If you need help crafting your own manifesto, or if you need a (literal) hand (or two) in making your More list a reality, here are a few ways you can work with me:

  • For hands-on help with finding more ease, motion, and fluidity in the body, you can book a bodywork session here.
  • For coaching help, you can book a 30-minute discovery chat with me here.

Next weekend I am heading to Chicago for the Upledger CranioSacral 2 class.  I am super excited to deepen my understanding of CranioSacral work, so that I can help my clients find more vitality, capacity, and resilience in this complicated world.
 
I hope you have an awesome Sunday and get to enjoy this Winter Wonderland!   

 
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Awakening, Coaching, Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Meditation, Mindset, Pain, Productivity, Trauma, Uncategorized, Yoga

What Parts of Your Self Are You Missing?

Is all your pain typically on one side of the body?  What do you make of that?  Is it because of that snowboard crash when you were 15, where you landed on your tail bone SO HARD that you saw stars?  Did that accident create a scoliosis in your body, which over time concentrated all your pain on one side?  Or is it because you’re right-handed, and you use the right side of your body more, so it hurts more?  Or is it because you use the left side of your body less, so it hurts more because it’s weaker?
 
These are all plausible explanations for why your foot, knee, hip, shoulder, ear all hurt on that one side of your body, and there could be a zillion more physical reasons.  But guess what – we aren’t just physical beings!  We are also emotional, mental, and spiritual beings, which means that how we think, feel (or don’t feel), and live can create pain & sensations in our bodies.  And according to many teachers, medical professionals, and research, where we feel pain in our bodies can be a clue as to what is imbalanced.
 
For example, the right and left sides of the body represent different qualities.  The left side of the body represents more “feminine” or “Being” qualities; whereas, the right side is our “masculine” side, which represents more “Doing” qualities. Take a look at this list (which I received in Dr. Betsy Rippentrop’s Yoga for the Mind course).  

Left Side/Feminine/BeingRight Side/Masculine/Doing
ReceptiveActive/Doing
NurturingDirected
KindHard
GentleStable
DiffuseLogical
IntuitiveAchieving/productivity
Self-soothingOther-soothing
CompassionOrdered
Wild/naturalCompetitive
ComplexFocused
SensualPenetrating
VulnerableAggressive
ExpressiveInsightful
CooperativeDisciplined
TolerantTake charge
  • What qualities would you say are typically more valued in our society? Does our culture encourage us to explore, to be open and receptive to other’s ideas and ways of life?  Are we supported when we need to rest and restore ourselves?  Or are we typically encouraged to be productive, to be the best we can be, to trust logic and science over mystery and intuition?
  • Do you identify more with one side or the other?  How might your body be trying to get your attention by presenting you with pain on one side of your body? 

All of us, no matter our gender, need a balance of all of these traits to be a whole being. As I reflect on this list, I realize that while I have made progress in integrating more of my feminine side, I still am imbalanced.  For decades, my life has revolved around getting shit done, driving forward, and accomplishing things.  This focus started at an early age; growing up, I prided myself on not being a “girly-girl.”  I rarely cried.  I didn’t wear pink.  I was motivated to excel.  I was practical, sensible, reliable – the planner and organizer.
 
I’ve started to get to know my body better, to tune in to my inner landscape over the past few years, I repeatedly notice that my left side feels very dim and muted – almost as if it’s shy.  And I am beginning to understand why.  I have split off from my feminine nature.  And I am not the only one!
 
“In spite of the successes achieved by the women’s movement, the prevailing myth in our culture is that certain people, positions, and events have more inherent value than others.  These … are usually masculine or male-defined.  Male norms have become the social standard for leadership, personal autonomy, and success in this culture, and in comparison, women find themselves perceived as lacking in competence, intelligence, and power.”  Maureen Murdock, A Heroine’s Journey.
 
The author states that our quest at this point in our culture, is to fully embrace our feminine nature – that’s what we need to feel integrated, balanced, and whole. In working with my clients, both men and women, I’ve realized that is what we all want – to have  balanced lives, to be connected to all the parts of ourselves and to others, to understand ourselves, and to have the freedom to live in alignment with our true natures.
 
How do we do this?  How do we identify where we are lacking balance and start to rectify it?
 
There are so many tools that can help!  Journaling, meditation, working with a therapist or coach, taking to a trusted friend, getting bodywork.  All of these things help us slow down and show up for ourselves. 
 
How am I going about repairing this rift with my feminine nature?  Well, Wednesday afternoon between sessions, instead of studying or cleaning (aka DOING), I laid on the floor with my feet up on the couch and looked out the window at the trees and the sky (aka BEING).  I’ve also been doing a lot of journaling.  I’ve been prioritizing meditation over getting shit done.  I bought some new makeup and am trying to be more thoughtful about my appearance – taking pride in taking care of myself and looking pretty.  I’m inspired by one of clients and am considering taking a belly dance class.  What ideas do you have for healing the split between you and your Being nature?

If you are curious about your Self and would like to feel more integrated, self-aware, and appreciative of the yourself, I would love to partner with you.  CranioSacral therapy and coaching are both excellent resources for this journey back to wholeness.  You can book a bodywork session or a free 15-minute consultation here.
 
The Sunday Letters
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Awakening, Coaching, Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Meditation, Mindset, Pain, Paleo, Trauma, Yoga

But…WHY???

“Why do you do what you do?  What is the PURPOSE?  What’s YOUR purpose?  What’s your cause?  What do you believe?”
 
I first encountered these questions a couple of years ago when a dear friend of mine sent me the book, “Find Your Why” by Simon Sinek.  In true Heather fashion, I immediately read the book and used it to help OTHER people find THEIR WHYs, completely bypassing the exercise for myself. 
 
But then the need to “find your why” kept popping up in random podcasts, books, conversations.  I resisted the prompting – who has the time and energy to do such heavy, difficult thought work??  Can’t someone just TELL me why I’m here, so I can take that knowledge and run with it??  Wouldn’t that be more efficient??
 
The Universe kept insisting that I take the time and figure this out for myself, recently presenting me with these questions yet again as part of a group coaching program I’m doing.  We were instructed to answer these questions as it relates to WHY we do bodywork, and the answer “to help people feel better” was not allowed, dammit.
 
I finally sat down, got out an orange Papermate Flair (doing hard things is easier with a pretty pen) and went to work.  And what I came up with really did give me some clarity and validation that, not only do I HAVE a purpose, but I am following it!
 
Here is what I wrote down:
 
I believe that we have an innate capacity to heal, given the right conditions. I believe our bodies are amazing and should be tended lovingly.  I do this work because I want to bring more hope and joy into this world, reduce suffering, help people realize their potential, and up-level humanity, one person at a time. 
 
I often struggle with the belief that I am doing “it” wrong – “it” meaning almost everything – life, relationships, learning, thinking, being, doing.  This limiting belief that “I am doing it wrong” rears its head incessantly in regard to my career.  I am interested in many things, and so I pursue many things, but I feel as if I SHOULD focus on one thing and get really good at it.  But this exercise helped solidify that, while I am pursuing a lot of different areas of interest, they are all driven by the same WHY – a belief in the magic and wonder of the human being and a desire to unleash that magic to make the world a better place.  All these classes and books and podcasts are all connected by that golden thread to my WHY.
 
I also had a light bulb moment and realized that my “origin story” weaves perfectly into this WHY as well.  I decided to share it with you, as this is a question that I get from clients ALL the time – “How did you get into this work?”
 
Let me tell you. 😊
 
My journey into the healing arts began about 13 years ago.  I was suffering from nasty anxiety.  I was constantly afraid of passing out and felt as if my grip on reality was very tenuous.  I dreaded getting stopped at a stop light, especially if I was the first car in line. I would roll down my window, turn up the AC full blast on my face and pray that I would remain conscious. At the grocery store, if I had to wait in line, I would pop mint gum in my mouth and fan my face in an attempt to stay upright and cogent.  When I had to attend a meeting at work, I would try to sit as close to the door as possible, and I always had water with me, so I could take a sip when I felt a little spinny.  Sometimes even on walks I would start to feel myself lilt, and my heart would beat faster and faster as I tried to hurry home before something bad happened.  Even sometimes after eating, I would feel faint. 
 
I felt uncomfortable in my own skin, a bit overweight, inflamed, and freaked out.  What was wrong with me??
 
I started to seek treatment and found a chiropractor and acupuncturist who helped me start to feel better.  And then I ran across an article about the primal lifestyle that grabbed my attention with its common sense approach to how to live.  I bought the book mentioned in the article, The 21 Day Total Body Transformation, and realized, this is something I could actually do!  I decided to follow the official 21-day plan, which included things like eating whole foods, cutting out sugar, gluten, and processed foods, eating healthy oils, prioritizing sleep hygiene, walking outside, doing bodyweight exercises, etc.  Within 2 weeks of starting the plan, my anxiety was nearly gone!!  My allergies were practically non-existent. I had energy ALL DAY LONG.  I felt GOOD.
 
And my mind was blown.  I experienced all these benefits, just from changing how I ate, how I moved, how I slept.  It opened my eyes to our innate capacity to heal and thrive if we give ourselves the right conditions.  
 
I dived into learning all I could about those “right conditions,” which included training as a yoga teacher, certifying as a Roll Model Method Practitioner® & Yoga Tune Up® Teacher, and attending an 18-month intensive training program in Florida to learn neurosomatic therapy.  I started to learn about trauma and its effects on the mind, body, and spirit, so I began training in the Somatic Experiencing program.  I received CranioSacral therapy and was in love with how calm and at ease it made me feel, so I started training in that as well.  I met a mentor who uses CranioSacral and visceral manipulation to help people who have been pretty much branded as “unhelpable” by the mainstream medical system, which got me even more curious about the benefits of organ work, so I dived into that this past August.  So many different modalities and styles, and they all had the same underlying theme of, “let’s help the body and mind get into a position/condition where its self-healing capacities can be unleashed, so people can start to feel vibrant again.”
 
That brings us to today, 10/1/2023.  That’s my story. 
 
What’s your story?  Why do you do what you do?  What do you believe? Taking some time and space to sit with these questions and contemplate them can bring much-needed clarity to our urgent lives and help ensure we are living in a way that is in alignment with what we really care about.  If you need a compassionate witness help you slow down long enough to consider these questions, I am here for you!  A CranioSacral Therapy (CST) session can be an excellent way to start to slowly apply that brake pedal.  If you would like explore CST, you can book a bodywork session with me here.  I am also offering coaching services on a limited basis, and if that idea tickles your fancy, please reply to this email.
 
HAPPY SUNDAY, MY FRIENDS!  I hope you have a moment today that feels like this:

 
P.S.  I was really struggling with what to write today.  I sat for several minutes with my head in my palms trying to force something to come out.  I had a little voice encouraging me to take a break and go for a walk.  Which I, of course ignored (I MUST POWER THROUGH).  When I was done writing, I went for a walk and was flooded with all sorts of good ideas, one of which is the following: 
 
When I think, “I’m not doing it right,” I can reframe it to, “I’m doing it.”  OMG. SUCH a difference.
 
So what’s the lesson in this long post script?  Listen to the inner voice!  Don’t force things!  Sense the spaces through which you can flow with little effort (thanks to Jon Kabat-Zinn for the last one), and go for the effing walk!!
 
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Awakening, Coaching, Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Meditation, Mindset, Pain, Productivity, Trauma

From Floundering to Flourishing: An exercise in patient exploration

“The spirit of the times is one of joyless urgency.”  Marilynne Robinson
 
Well, that’s a cheerful quote to open up my Sunday Letter, isn’t it?!  But I had to share it because it perfectly encapsulates how I was feeling for the past few months.  I think it’s how many of us feel quite often, actually – “I must get everything done as quickly as possible so that I can have time to vegetate in front of the TV whilst I contemplate all the things I need to get done tomorrow, but which I know I won’t have time to do!”
 
But lately I’ve been feeling different.
 
I’ve been feeling joy. 
 
I’ve been feeling presence.
 
I’ve been feeling appreciation and excitement about life.
 
And what shifted?
 
The damndest thing is, I don’t know for sure!
 
In an attempt to get out of this funk/depression I have been trying a lot of things – meditating more regularly, chiropractic care, functional medicine care, the physiological sigh for 5 minutes every night, more long walks outside in the morning, an Aztec healing session, shifting my center of perception from my head to my heart, spending more time with my brother and my niece while they stayed at my house for a couple of weeks, taking a break from alcohol for a few weeks, making a huge chart in my office that very clearly lays out my personal and professional goals for August (replete with checkboxes and spaces to fill in my success metrics), trying some NEW things (new restaurants, new activities), pushing myself to do stuff that’s uncomfortable, etc.  Since I was trying a bunch of things simultaneously, I don’t know what the catalyst was.  Or maybe all the things together formed the magic potion!
 
And I’m feeling better.  I really noticed this yesterday as Tim, Huehue, and I were canoeing down the Maquoketa River.  This is an almost annual tradition, so I’ve floated that river probably 20-30 times in my life.  But yesterday, I was THERE for it.  I noticed the serenity of the water, the wispy white clouds that looked like elegant apostrophes, the light glinting on the water, the dunes of sand cresting and falling under surface of the river, the pleasure of spending time with two of my favorite beings.




It was beautiful. I was content.  I was present and accounted for.  I felt happy. I felt like something had shifted.  And then I got anxious because I realized that if something shifted up, it means that it could shift back down again.  But then I realized that there is no point in worrying about the if/when, when I could just be present with the feeling of being content.  So I let that thought go.
 
In Somatic Experiencing, they teach that trauma needs to be processed in a titrated fashion.  You can’t dive right into the trauma vortex and try to “fix it.”  You explore the edges, monitor the state of your nervous system, and when you get too activated, you pendulate back to a safe and steady place, and when you’re ready, you go back in for a little more.  You erase the edges and eventually work towards the center, gently unwinding those layers slowly. It takes time.  A lot of time. Like 46 years of time.
 
And I think that’s what I’m doing.  In my process of healing, I’m disintegrating layers of numbness and constriction that have covered over my joy, and now it’s starting to shine through.  I am healing.
 
I’m writing all this because while I was in the middle of my funk, it felt like that was just me – just who I was.  But now that I am passing through, I see that it was a phase, a stage – not a destination.  So if you are feeling that “joyless sense of urgency,” there is hope!  Trying new things, allowing yourself to stretch outside of your comfort zone, and getting help from professionals (and maybe you have to try a few different ones to find one who resonates), can kick-start that upward spiral.
 
In that vein, I am offering a free 60-minute Zoom workshop on 8/23 at 5PM  Central Time entitled “Simple Tools to Change Your Life.”  We’ll play with a few practices that can have a big impact on how you feel in your body and mind, such a meditation, breathwork, and posture.  And more importantly, we’ll try to close that gap between “knowing” and “doing” by doing a brief overview of habit change science – so you will be able to take away one small action step that can help bring more health, joy, and presence back into your life.
 
I am teaching a version of this presentation to a live audience of about 100 people in October, so, if you do attend the presentation I would be extremely grateful if you would provide feedback in the form of a 5 question survey, which I will send out to all attendees after the presentation.  Please help me NAIL this presentation in October!
 
Here is the link to register for the workshop.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out!  And if you register, THANK YOU so much!!

I hope you have a fabulous Sunday!
 
Space to be Human Lab
CranioSacral therapy provides a gentle touch that can feel like a balm to a burned-out nervous system.  Get some relief from that monkey mind!  You can book a CranioSacral session here (use code “CRANIO” for $20 off through 8/31/23).
 
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Awakening, Coaching, Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Mindset, Pain, Trauma

A Coach and a Shaman Walk Into a Bar…

Welp.  I am officially a Master Certified Coach with the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.  It took 8 months of work, 25 2-hr long classes (that kept me up past my 8PM bedtime!), 3 very gracious, patient volunteer coaching clients, one expert instructor, a couple of thousands of dollars, 4 books (one of which Huehue ate), 2 reams of paper, and lots of rejiggering of my mental construct.


 
And what’s the verdict, now that it’s all said it done?
 
The time, money, and effort was 1000 times worth it.  This process has changed how I think, how I listen, and how I show up for friends, family, clients, and myself.  Coaching is fascinating.  It’s all about APPRECIATING the mystery of the human being, noticing what is GOOD and building upon that, and guiding people into a deeper conversation with themselves.
 
And it’s hard.  It’s so hard. Both from the Coach’s perspective and from the Coachee’s perspective.  I’ve been on both sides of the Zoom camera now, and I don’t know which side is more difficult.
 
From the Coach’s perspective, you must be 100% present, listen deeply, and quiet that inner Fixer.   You must have a “heart as open as the sky” and be a “calm pool in which she may reflect.” (Motivational Interviewing, p. 24).  You must discern the feelings and needs behind the words and non-verbal communication being used.  You need to be Ok with silence. You need to be a discerning gardener, plucking out the gorgeous wildflowers of change talk that are sprinkled throughout a conversation.
 
From the Coachee’s perspective, you need to be willing to WORK.  This may mean doing actual WORK towards your goals, but I think the harder work is letting go of the expectation that an Other (not you) has the right answer for YOU.  You must be open to letting your brain noodle and falter around questions that don’t really 100% make sense.  You have to be willing to be open to new interpretations about yourself and your capabilities and capacities. You have to be willing to let that old version of yourself go.
 
But you know what is true about the coach/client relationship?
 
More than a just a vehicle for losing weight, developing a meditation habit, or figuring out how to become more organized, coaching can be a transformational process that amazingly enough shares many basic tenets with ancient forms of shamanic healing practices (which are 80,000 years old)!
 
According to “The Heart of Listening – A Visionary Approach to Craniosacral Work,” here are the main tenets of Shamanism:

  1.  “The basic premise of shamanism is that we have access to the solutions to our own problems, having within us everything needed for our own healing.”
  2. “It’s the shaman’s responsibility to reinterpret every single thing the clients says according to a deeper reality.”
  3. Shamans move from the “known but mundane to the alchemical and unknown.  This reminds me of the “Simultaneity Principle” in Appreciative Coaching:

“Asking the right question can lead to an “Aha” experience for the client; it can cause a sudden shift in perspective, like a twist of the kaleidoscope, so that a new view appears, freeing the client from the tyranny of his past or his fear of the future.”  (Appreciative Coaching, p. 65).

4. The Shaman renames the client by discerning the needs for balance, expression, and development, and the new name hinges on the initiate’s strengths and weaknesses. This marks a rebirth experience where the client leaves behind their former self to step into who they were meant to be.

5. A shaman deepens the client’s connectedness with his own source and universal sources.

Why this fascination with parallels between coaching and shamanism?  I like the idea that there is some magic and mystery in the world, for starters.  Also, if shamanism has survived for 80,000 years, it means it works.  And that means coaching works.  And it means there is hope for us to reach our potential and therefore to level up all of humanity, one person at a time.  In a nutshell, I just think it’s super cool.
 
What’s the point of me telling you all this?  Well, you might think it’s cool too.  You might be jazzed to know there is still magic in the world.  And you might be curious about tapping in to this current in the ether and seeing where you get swept away to!  If so, holler at me.  I am looking for 2 curious clients who want to do a free 6-week coaching gig with me.  I’m still puzzling out how to take the Dr. Sears approach and make it my own, so our work together might be a little bumpy, but we’ll both learn a lot in the process, and more importantly we will have fun!!  Or, if you  are excited about coaching, but you want to work with an experienced coach, I can give you a referral.  Please respond to this email if you would like to hear more.

And here are 2 questions that might shift the kaleidoscope for you today:
1.  What are you doing each day that’s living your dream?
2.  What’s a small step that could take you in the direction of doing more of what you want?
 
Thanks for taking the time to read these ramblings. I appreciate your attention, comments, and feedback.  I’m always amazed and humbled when you reach out and say these letters hit you at just the right time; to me it’s proof that we are all connected, all going through similar things, and we can all help each other through this journey called life.  
 
I hope you have a fabulous Sunday!
 
Space to be Human Lab
Craniosacral therapy provides a gentle, listening touch that can feel like a balm to a fried nervous system.  When your nervous system feels safe and supported, your body can tap into its “inner physician” and use that wisdom to heal pain and discomfort. You can book a craniosacral session here (use code “CRANIO” for $20 through 8/31/23).
 
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Awakening, Coaching, Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Meditation, Mindset, Pain, Trauma

A New Deal

What’s one of the best and most important ways of becoming a better helper/healer? Getting help and healing for yourself.

This message is permeating the ether lately. I just finished a book that blew my mind – The Heart of Listening – A Visionary Approach to Craniosacral Work by Hugh Milne. For so many reasons, it really spoke to a deep part of me, probably because the book is all about speaking to the deep parts of us! I could write a book on this book, but for now I will constrain myself to one of its main pieces of advice – if you want to become skilled in the healing arts, you absolutely must partake of the healing arts yourself. You must get treatment, get therapy, do the work to understand your shadow self, dig into those recesses where you have stuffed the parts of yourself that you just couldn’t deal with at the time.

I took this advice to heart, which was an easy thing to do as I have been feeling a bit “meh,” pointless, and disembodied lately. I felt the need for some existential guidance and for someone to just take care of me and focus on me for an hour or two, so I booked a session with Marisa at https://www.yellowleafmedicine.com/.

It was a one-of-kind- experience. I have a really hard time expressing emotions, which is troublesome, as expressing my emotions is what all my coaches and therapists have told me I need to do in order to become who I want to become. In this session with Marisa, I was in a space where my body felt safe enough to let its guard down and FEEL some stuff – to feel deep grief that I didn’t even know I was carrying, to feel fresh, deep breaths coming into my body, to feel sludgy, sticky, goopy energy leaving my body with strong exhalations. It was a very visceral experience, and I tried hard to stay in my body and really be present, instead of retreating up to my head and watching it – intellectualizing the experience. That was hard, but so worth it. The session helped me remember the pleasure of the smell of roses and smoky herbs, the cool sensation of mist on my bare skin, the sound and vibration of a strong human voice in my ribcage, the felt sense of connection with Self and Spirit.

And now the session is over. What next?

Do I choose to say, “Wow. That was cool. Glad I did that!” and just move on with life as usual – thinking the same things, stuffing down the same feelings, taking the same actions? That would be easy to do. And I have done that many, many times. I have spent hundreds of dollars on experiences, coaching, and therapy that I didn’t allow to transform me.

But this time, I am focused on integration – on using this as an opportunity to recreate myself by making different choices. Each decision is a fork in the road, and I am working on consciously choosing.

We all struggle with being human, with figuring out life, with figuring out what we want, who we are, why we are here. We are all in this together, figuring it out together, helping each other when we need it. When you feel “meh” and want to rekindle your spark, please remember that help is out there – help from people who have been in your shoes, and who are currently walking around in those shoes! I have a list of shiny people, living here in the trenches with you, who can help you, and I am always here for you as well.

Today I made a new choice. I choose to be forthcoming about explorations into a therapy that my religious upbringing would have frowned upon. But I am choosing to align my words with where my heart is right now. We’ll see where this goes!

I hope that today you have the opportunity to choose the real, authentic, messy You.

Space to be Human Lab

CranioSacral Therapy: Sometimes we don’t need to be fixed, we just need someone to listen to us while we fix ourselves. Craniosacral therapy provides that kind of deep listening. If you would like support to let your body be heard, please book a craniosacral session here. Use code “CRANIO” for $20 off. I recommend book a 90-minute session for craniosacral work. It takes time to slow down. 🙂

Coaching: CranioSacral is based on the foundation that we have an“inner physician” who knows what we need to heal. Likewise, health and wellness coaching is based on a similar truth – you are the expert on your own life, and you probably even know what you need to do to reach your wellbeing goals. However, you need a partner to walk the path with you and help you identify your strengths, motivations, and supports. You need someone who believes in your ability to change, while you work on building up evidence for yourself. If you are interested in how health coaching could help you reach your potential, please book a consultation here. I am now a Master Certified Coach with the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute!

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Awakening, Coaching, Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Mindset, Productivity

When Your To Do’s Have Babies

Ha!  I was reviewing my post from 2 weeks ago where I opened with a description of how gorgeous the weather is.  Today is absolutely non-gorgeous.  It’s blustery, cold, and it may actually freaking snow.  On a brighter note, that means I’m inside at my computer writing to you instead of outside on my deck finishing The Initiate Brother.
 
Now on to my point.
 
My point today, is that my point in these newsletters is often the same.  I am usually having some revelation or another, making adjustments, and then eventually getting myself back into the same situation I thought I had just got myself out of. 
 
How many times do I have to go through this cycle of epiphany and then confusion, ad nauseum?? And the answer is, as many times as it takes.
 
Because each cycle is different.
 
With each cycle, I’m in a different head space and heart space; I’m at a different level of consciousness.  I’ve learned something, even if it’s the littlest smidge of a thing. 
 
As we move up the spiral of consciousness, each time we revisit the SAME OL’ SH!T, it’s from a slightly shifted vantage point.  We can see things we didn’t see a year, month, even a week ago.  We have to be ready to see it; we can’t comprehend it a minute before we’re ready.
 
I’ve been thinking about this vis a vis To Do lists.  I have many of them.  For my personal life I have a Master To Do list, and a daily To Do list, and my office is papered in yellow post-its for the REALLY IMPORTANT, MUST NOT FORGET THIS THING items.  And then when it comes to work, I have lists in Microsoft To Do, lists in my calendar, lists in my notebook, and a lovely assortment of work-related post-its.  One could make a full-time job out of organizing To Do lists.
 
Every once in awhile I will have that epiphany – the To Do list will NEVER be done.  The To Dos you accomplish have a way of creating more To Dos, and then those To Do’s get it on and have even MORE To Dos.  And eventually you are swimming in generations of To Do’s. 
 
What to do about this To Do situation?  Here is what I think the answer is, from my current level of consciousness:
 
#1 – Figure out how to enjoy life while having an unfinished To Do list.  I often think, “When my list is done, THEN I can relax.”  But when I truly comprehend that it’s a river that never stops, then I can slow down, tell myself there is no need to rush through this To Do because there is just another one right behind it.  Might as well appreciate what you can appreciate about the process, and don’t forget to BREATHE while you’re getting sh!t done!   
 
#2 – Focus on Quality over Quantity.  When I rush through my To Dos, I often find that I cut corners.  In the speed of the moment, sympathetic drive takes over, my vision narrows, and I lose the peripheral perspective.  I make silly mistakes, causing myself more work down the line.  Measure twice, cut once!
 
#3 – Just do one thing.  This is something I tell myself over and over again.  My default mode is to do 3-4 things simultaneously – listen to a podcast while doing the dishes while cooking (aka burning) breakfast on the stove, while also randomly putting items back in the cupboard as I switch between the soapy dishes and the frying bacon.  Lately I’ve started writing MY ONE THING on a sticky note and putting it on my desk.  I set my Time Timer for 25 minutes and work on that one thing.  No responding to emails or IMs or Huehue’s insistent impatient huffing.  Whew – there is so much peace when I can do that!


 
Again, none of this information is new or earth-shattering.  It all, as always, boils down to a few well known axioms:  Be here now, stop and smell the roses, let go of what you can’t control, etc.  But I repeat it because when you last heard those axioms, you were a different person than who you are right now, so maybe, just maybe, the April 16, 2023 iteration of You needs to hear it again!
 
Space to be Human Lab – Helping you heal so you can get back to doing what you love
 
If you like the idea of getting some space from your thoughts, and deep relief and support for your frayed nervous system, I invite you to book a CranioSacral session.  April is CraniosSacral Therapy Awareness Month, so I am offering 75 minute sessions for $80 (a discount of $20).  Book a 75 minute session and use code “CRANIO.”  If you are a new client, you can book here.
 
Quad City Health & Wellness Professionals Mixer
If you are a health and wellness professional and you would like to connect with other like-minded peeps, please join us at the monthly QCHWP Mixer on April 24th from 5PM-7PM.  You can find more info here, and you can register here.
 
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