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

A Practice Life (no do-overs!)

TL:DR:  I went on a hike. I learned I’m living life like it’s a practice run.  And I’m offering a new weekly meditation class.
 
As you may remember from my last letter, in May I did a 5-day silent meditation retreat at Spirit Rock in Marin County, California.  The retreat center is in gorgeous mountains just north of San Francisco, and the center is encircled by several miles of trails.
 
I love to hike, and I really wanted to check out the trails, but I am a fairly cautious, risk-adverse person.  I was put off by the posted warnings about ticks, snakes, mountain lions, etc. as well as by the fact that due to the silent nature of the retreat, I would need to do the hike alone.  Yet, this trip was about pushing me out of my comfort zone, and I was determined to take full advantage of what this beautiful place had to offer.
 
I got my feet wet by doing a short little 1-mile loop – the Two Arrows Trail. It was a beautiful little hike, and I survived unscathed.  YAY!
 
My confidence bolstered by a few more short loops, by Tuesday, I set my sights on the Great Loop trail.  This trail takes you up into the mountains behind the retreat center – into the wild.  It’s only 3 miles, but I was told it would take about 2 hours, due to the amount of climbing involved.  At the entrance to the trail, I paused to spray down my shoes, socks, and shoulders with anti-tick spray, and two fellow retreatants headed up the trail in front of me.  As I struck out after them, I realized that, while the person in front of me was obviously out for a long hike, the lead person was doing THE SLOWEST POSSIBLE WALKING MEDITATION EVER.  Lift foot, raise knee, lower foot, raise opposite foot, lift knee, lower foot.  SO SLOW.  He, for sure, had to notice the two women behind him chomping at the bit to get on up the trail.  And he completely ignored us.  We could, conceivably, go around him on the path, but… ticks.  And also – it felt rude to rush past someone who was meditating.
 
We both walked oh so slowly behind him, frustration levels building.  And also, I was trying to use this experience as a mindfulness exercise.  “Oh, I’m annoyed at how self-centered this guy is being. How interesting!  Or, am I the one that is being self-centered by assuming he should defer to my desire for speed?  How interesting!”
 
Eventually the fellow turned off onto a different path, and the girl in front of me and I struck off into the hills.  I don’t think she liked the sensation of me being so close on her heels, because she wandered off the path toward a lookout, and then my hike began in earnest.
 
I worked my way through some close brush that surrounded the path, and as I did so, I heard some rustling in the bushes.  I felt better NOT knowing what that rustling was, so I powered on without checking to see what was making those alarming noises. 
 
Eventually I passed the tree line and entered onto the sunbaked slope above, following steep switch-backs that took me to the very crest of the hill.  By the time I got to the top, my heart was beating out of my chest, I was insanely hot, and I was 100% alone.  The other girl was nowhere to be seen. It was just me, the sun, the grass, and the heat – my god the heat!
 
I contemplated turning around and going back down, afraid that the heat and sun and exertion would make me pass out and no one would find me until my bones were stripped clean by the coyotes.  I drank some water, let my breath and heart settle and decided to keep moving forward.
 
As I crested another one of the hills, in the distance I could see one of the bridges of San Francisco!  So beautiful!  But I didn’t stop to really enjoy the view.  In fact, I really didn’t pause AT ALL on the hike.  My main goal was to get the trail done as quickly as possible, not die, and prove to myself that I could do it.  And then, maybe, if I had time later in the week, I could do the hike again and actually ENJOY IT.  Once I knew that I could safely navigate the hike, then on the 2nd time through, I could pause, relish the sights and sounds, enjoy the feeling of exerting myself, enjoy being away from civilization for some precious moments.
 
As I started the downhill portion of the hike, I had a flash of insight.
 
I LIVE MY LIFE AS IF IT’S A PRACTICE RUN – BELIEVING THAT ONCE I KNOW I WILL BE OKAY, THEN I CAN GO BACK THROUGH IT THE SECOND TIME AND ACTUALLY ENJOY IT.
 
Oh boy.  What a fallacious belief.  While I believe that reincarnation is possible and probably likely, I am certain that I will never be Heather again.  I get just this ONE shot to live THIS life – to enjoy this life – to be ALIVE in this life.  How can I embody that realization, that TRUTH, instead of just holding it as an interesting thought?
 
I’m trying to figure that out. think it means numbing less, feeling more, pushing out of my comfort zone, pausing more, appreciating more, fearing less, worrying less, trusting more, loving more, hurting more, learning what is a Yes for me and following it even if it’s scary.
 
What does it mean to you to be ALIVE in this life?  What makes you feel alive?  What uplifts you?  What makes you feel expansive?  What arouses “terrible longing” in you?  (I’m not sure where I ran across that phrase, but it STUCK in my psyche as something that’s important).
 
That’s what I’ll be pondering this weekend. If you care to share your insights on these questions, I would love to hear them. <3
 
If you want to join me on this quest to live more fully, I have an invitation for you!
 
Many of us are stressed, overwhelmed, and burned out (burnt out??). And sometimes we are so stressed and overwhelmed, that we can’t even figure out where to start to begin to feel like a human BEING again.  There are SO MANY little things that we can do to help our systems start to relax, slow down, and reboot. And these things don’t have to take much time. Two minutes of intentional breathing can be all it takes!
 
In that vein, I am offering a weekly online class, Wednesday Reset. It’s only 15 minutes. We’ll meet from 12:45PM-1PM, so hopefully you can squeeze it in over your lunch hour. It’s $5. We’ll explore meditation, movement, breathwork, and mindset work in little, bite-size integrationable (I really think that should be a word) chunks. It will be fun, fascinating, and freeing (my 4th grade English teacher would be so proud of my use of alliteration there). (I love parentheses).
 
Here’s the link, if you want to join me!
 
Love,
 
Heather
 
Space to be Human Lab
Do you want to feel a little bit more at home in your body? Here are a few options that can help!

  • You can book a bodywork session here (prices range from $115 to $85).
  • You can book a free Wellbeing Coaching consultation here.  I am offering a 6-session coaching package for $240.  You can read testimonials here.
  • You can sign up for my $5 weekly 15 meditation/movement class here

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Awakening, Coaching, craniosacral therapy, Health & Fitness, Meditation, Mindset

The Attention Reclamation Project

Well hello there!  My apologies for being MIA for the past couple of months.  May was bonkers, which I’ll get to later, and I just cannot remember April for the life of me.  So.  There you go.  Life gets weird and fast as you get older.
 
Now on to May! 
 
In May I did something new – something I’ve never done before but have wanted to do for 10+ years – I attended a 5-day silent meditation retreat.  The retreat was held in gorgeous mountains just north of San Francisco at a place called Spirit Rock. 


For 5 days, my life consisted of waking up, meditating (either seated or walking), eating, not talking to anyone, more meditating, more walking, vacuuming a resident hall, meditating, walking, eating, listening to talks from very wise and honest teachers, chanting, sleeping.

  • 5 days of slowing down
  • 5 days of watching the machinations of my brain
  • 5 days of being surrounded by 100 other people who are also trying to figure themselves and the world out
  • 5 days of silence
  • 5 days of being outside for several hours a day
  • 5 days of actually SEEING with my eyes, FEELING with my heart, being IN my body/being my body
  • 5 days of living simply – no books, no TV, no mindless distractions

This gave me a glance into a different way to live. Yes, I have to work.  Yes, I need to communicate with other people.  Yes, I do need to live IN the world. I can’t stay on a gorgeous mountain-top in California forever and still be true to my other values

AND

I can invite more slowing down and simplicity into my “normal” life.  I can JUST DO ONE THING at a time.  I found that eating my morning oatmeal, when that is the ONLY thing I am doing, is a whole different experience. I get fuller faster. I feel gratitude for heartiness of it and the work of the cooks and volunteers who prepared it for me. 

I can bring mindful awareness into my daily life – watching my thoughts and CHOOSING which ones to follow, which ones to believe.  One of the teachers mentioned that our minds secrete thoughts, just like the pancreas secretes insulin. It’s just what the mind does.  It doesn’t mean I have to believe those secretions. I can just watch them.

I can be more careful in my speech.  Not being able to talk for 5 days helped me realize how many meaningless things I have an impulse to say (and usually just blurt out).  But on Retreat, I noticed the impulse to speak, realized that no one really NEEDED to hear my insightful commentary about the chilliness of the morning, and let the thought pass unvoiced. 

I can bring compassion to my own thoughts, feelings, and sensations, and I can hold space for others to explore their thoughts, feelings, sensations.  There is magic in compassionate curiosity – I wonder why I think that….  Of course I would think that…

I can keep remembering:

  • Life is not a problem to be solved.
  • When I am snagged by the thought stream, I am often fantasizing/planning, problem-solving for some future event that may never happen. I AM LIVING AN IMAGINARY LIFE.
  • We are not meant to SURVIVE.  We are meant to LIVE.
  • I can let go of the ILLUSION of control.
  • “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” Dalai Lama
  • Even when I feel as if my meditation is a failure (e.g. I just cannot stay focused on my anchor), I know that with this practice, I am planting a seed of awareness that definitely will sprout in the right timing.
  • I am happier and feel better when I am outside A LOT.  Without my phone. Noticing things. Appreciating the beauty of nature.  Just BEING instead of DOING.
  • I can quit pushing and striving so much, and trust that things will work out.

There is so much more I could say and will say in future letters, but I am also trying to practice the lesson of “less is more.”

I hope you can create some space for some consciously lived moments today – even for just one breath in and one breath out – and notice that sense of freedom that comes from being right here in this moment, mind, body, and spirit united.

Love,

Heather

Space to be Human Lab
Do you want to open up space in your life for new possibilities to arise?  Both bodywork and wellbeing can help you regain your life’s energy.

  • You can book a bodywork session here.
  • Wellbeing Coaching helps you reconnect with your Self, your needs, and your strengths, opening up new possibilities.  If you would like to hear how coaching has helped my clients attune to who they really are, you can read testimonials here.
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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, Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Mindset, Pain, Trauma

Is Your Life One, Big Run-On Sentence?

Um…, Uh…, So…, Like…
 
I’m preparing for presentation in October to an audience of ~100 peeps.  As I’ve listened to a couple of practice recordings, it’s become painfully obvious that my speech is littered with these pesky little word whiskers.  To address this isssue, I took a super helpful workshop, “Speak Without Filler Words,” which helped me understand WHY these words creep into our speech and how to break the habit of using them.
 
Filler words show up in our dialogue when we are trying to gather our thoughts.  When we aren’t exactly sure what to say next, “Uh..” pops right out before we know it.  As we’re transitioning to the next thought, “So…” slips right in there.  Pretty soon your conversation sounds like one, massive run-on sentence that requires a lot of energy for the listener to digest.
 
What’s the answer?  (FYI – I almost wrote, “So, what’s the answer.”  Oy vey!  So much work to do!!).
 
The answer is….wait for it…..PAUSE!!
 
When you don’t know what to say, PAUSE.
 
When you get to a point in a sentence where you would typically add a comma or a dash, PAUSE.
 
When you get to the end of a sentence, STOP (long pause).
 
This is called “verbal punctuation.”  It adds clarity and structure to your spoken words.  It provides the listener with a chance to digest and integrate what you have said.  It makes you sound more professional and competent. 
 
Pauses are necessary.
 
I had a revelation this morning.  Pauses are not only necessary to provide clarity in our spoken word.  They are necessary for clarity in our lived LIFE.
 
In my last letter, I mentioned the sense of “joyless urgency” that pervades life today.  What this looks like for me, is hopping from task to task, doing multiple tasks at once, telling myself that  I will “stop and smell the roses” when I have time, or AFTER I get such and such done.  I will take the time to reflect and look at what’s going on under my surface at some undefined point in the future when 1) I have more time and 2) I am somehow more magically adept at doing hard things like looking at what’s going on under the surface.
 
I realized this morning that I often live life like one massive run-on sentence – filling in the transition spaces between tasks with “filler words” like checking email/doing dishes/tidying up, so that I never have to sit in silence with myself.  And then I am always wondering why I lack clarity and focus!??!
 
Life needs pauses for clarify, structure, and integration.  Life needs Life Punctuation!
 
This sentiment is floating in the ether of consciousness right now.  In the most recent issue of Massage & Bodywork Magazine, Cal Cates wrote an article entitled, “Rest and Relaxation Are Necessities, Not Luxuries.”  She notes that 65% of adults are reporting stress due to uncertainty, and 60% feel overwhelmed by the volume of problems we face.  WE NEED TO PAUSE!  She advises therapists, “The most profound value in what we do is providing an experience that invites the people we touch to rest, to say, “It’s OK to be right here with this person taking care of me for the sake of kindness and relaxation.”
 
The amazing book, “Four Thousand Weeks – Time Management for Mortals” keeps reminding me that we cannot force our will on the universe.  Things take as long as they take, and the more we resist that truth, the more pain we bring on ourselves.  Also, To Do lists are never-ending,  as are problems that need to be addressed.  That is the reality of life.  We need to accept that reality and take care of ourselves by pausing, noticing the things that we enjoy, and being present for them NOW (not when we magically have more time to enjoy them).
 
How does one go about adding more commas, dashes, and periods to life?  In the Filler Words class, you record yourself talking for 1 minute, then you transcribe what you said and highlight all the filler words.  Building awareness is always the first step towards change.  Just bringing curious, non-judgmental attention to the conversation of your life could help you realize where you need to insert some Life Punctuation.  CranioSacral Therapy can also provide you with an hour where your mind, body, and spirit can rest deeply.  If you need a period in the run-on sentence of your life, you can book a session with me here
 
Next week I am taking a deliberate pause. I’m doing a “mini-quest” where I’ll go hike somewhere and sit, think, write, and see what comes up.  I got the idea from the brilliant teacher, Ariel Kiley, and the time is right to actually DO it!
 
I hope you can find time for a comma or maybe even a full-on period today. 🙂
 
Space to be Human Updates
 
Visceral Manipulation:  I am still digesting (get it??) what I learned in the Barral Visceral Manipulation class.  Visceral Manipulation is gentle work on the organs of the body that can have profound effects on pain and range-of-motion.  When your organs are not moving well, your body is not moving well.  If you’re an existing client, and you’re curious about this work, shoot me an email to hear more about an opportunity for a free treatment.
 
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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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