Sweetheart, I’m so glad you reached out to me. I hear that you are hurting.
I’m so sorry that life is really hard right now.
I have time for you. How can I support you right now?
Where are you? Can you find somewhere quiet and safe that you can lie down on the ground?
Take a breath.
All the way in and all the way out.
When you feel ready, become aware of the floor underneath you. Mother earth, holding you in the palm of her hand.
Let go, let her take your weight.
Relax. Feel everything soften as you sink in to the support of the earth beneath you.
Feel peace spreading inside you, like the sun coming out from behind the clouds.
When you feel ready, can you open your eyes and say hello to your toes?
Notice your feet, your legs and send them some appreciation for carrying you this far on your journey.
Take another breath.
Put one hand on your tummy and the other on your heart.
Can you feel your heart beating?
Let yourself notice the beat of your heart, the one constant thing that remains.
Be an empty beach at the end of the day,
The echoes of the childrens voices have faded away
and all that remains is the whisper of the surf,
As the waves go in and out, like the breath,
In and then out.
Bring your awareness to your face now.
Pay close attention
Can you feel the breath here? Going in and out.
Can you feel the warmth of your skin, radiating out in to the air?
Wait, listen, can you feel something else?
It’s the softness of a hundred butterfly kisses,
Tiny kisses of love and light.
From all the invisible loves that surround you.
And love from before,
Love from ahead,
And love from beyond.
Feel it now. Open to this love and see it surround you,
Let it fill every cell and dry every tear.
Hear the celebration for every moment of your being,
Your strength and your courage, your big, beautiful heart.
You are safe, You are loved
You are safe, You are loved
Inspired by my best friend Lauren, who is always there when I get lost, with her timeless, patient, peaceful wisdom to guide me safely back to shore.
As the holidays draw to a close I wanted to reach out and send you off into the New Year with much love and warm wishes that 2012 will bring you all that you can dream of – and some things so good you couldn’t have even imagined them!
As far as resolutions are concerned, I’d like to suggest that you don’t make any. This New Year how about loving yourself for exactly where you are instead? Instead of focusing on what you want to change, make a list of what you have achieved this year. If your year sucked so badly that you are drawing a blank, try a list of what you survived instead.
Of course, I do still want you to grow this year and having goals is a great idea. As long as you don’t set yourself up with an over-ambitious list of resolutions and then crash and burn before the month of January is out.
Find and celebrate the good and brave in yourself and encourage those parts to keep up the good work.
Come up with a short list of baby steps that you can be confident in ace-ing. Enjoy the instant gratification and surf on over with confidence to create another little list.
Life is hard enough with beating yourself up and – if you stop and think about it – shame and guilt are a lousy method of self-motivation.
It’s not a bad thing to make your goals public so you have to be accountable, but why not choose a friend who can cheer you on as well.
If that’s all too tame and you want to up the stakes, think of a cause to which you are totally opposed and write out a check to them. Next, give the check to someone you trust and tell them that if you don’t follow through by an agreed upon time, you want them to mail the check.
I’d love you to keep me posted on your progress and if you would like me to be your personal cheerleader, I have a small number of coaching spots available – in person or by phone or Skype.
Finally, I’d like to invite you to join me and ask you to help me spread the word about my two upcoming workshops, “Vive La Differénce! The Weekend for Couples“ February 25th and 26th and something totally new, “Me Time for Mommies”, a four-week coaching program is for rookie and veteran moms alike that takes place on Thursday evenings in Mt Airy starting January 12th.
For more information call or email me and I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful year,
Things may be hard. So hard they may be waking you up at 3 in the morning. You try to keep sleeping but no: now the soundtrack is going… you know, the soundtrack of all the things you suspect are related to how your shoulders feel so tight, not to mention that knot in your belly, or the dull ache between your temples…
It’s too much: too much pressure, too much to do, too much to keep track of, too much noise, too much work, too many messages, too many things… Too much, you think.
Even while it feels like not enough. Not enough time, not enough money, not enough business, not enough lovin’… Not enough, you think.
And you are tired. So tired. If only you could rest, you think. You try to remember when you last sat in the sun and read for an hour. You want to get away… But there’s so much to take care of, you think.
Maybe you have a business. Maybe you have a family. There are people you feel responsible for, or to… Or maybe it’s just you, and maybe that is the thought that wakes you: I am alone, you think.
Oh sweetest heart, come. What I want to tell you is simple, and yet we forget it all the time. I do. (Why do you think I’m writing it to you right now, before I go to bed?!)
You do not need to hold yourself up. You do not need to keep it together. The ground, it is strong. And it’s right there under you at 3 in the morning or afternoon. Supporting you. Let the ground hold you. All of you:
Butt? For sure.
Back? The ground has got your back, for sure!
See if you can let yourself be held.
Also, the air? It’s free, my love, free! No need to skimp. Your neck and shoulders will appreciate the rest they get when your breathing is gentle and deep. Also, you might try this if ever you feel yourself anxious and struggling for breath: let yourself be breathed. Notice how air enters and leaves, enters and leaves. Again and again. What a relief.
Oh my love, I know you know all this, you just forget.
Here’s a crib sheet for 3 a.m. Tuck it under you pillow if you want:
Strong ground. Generous, free air.
Let the ground hold you.
Let the air breathe you.
What a relief.
Oh and too (lest you forget)?
You are loved.
What’s that? By whom?
Ahhh… here’s a thought: How ’bout you fall asleep counting loves! (Sheep are so last century). Count people who love you, past present future. People you love, ever… Things you love… Animals… Places…
Sweet dreams, my sweet…
*Kissing your forehead… slipping out quietly*
Heidi Fischbach is a Massage therapist, Mood detective and Mortar & pestle queen. She uses pure essential oils to create magic potions and lotions for mixed up emotions (made from pure essential oils) including the fabulously titled Losing It:
“The potion for when you’re losing your shit. Or about to. You’re running in circles and the world around you or inside your head is spinning like craaaazy.
Wanted: Calm. Support. Strength. This potion brings to mind the ground supporting us and the roots of ancient wise trees.
Losing It features Sandalwood and Vetiver. With supporting roles by warming Ginger, and sassy Lemongrass. Sweetness by: Ylang Ylang. And bouncer services by Black Pepper (‘Cause, oh yeah: you always want Black Pepper on your side).”
I feel better already, I hope you do, too.
P.S. special thanks to one of my favorite people, Pirate Queen Havi Brooks for introducing me to Heidi.
Holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year but they can also be the most difficult. There is something about the message that this particular time should be full of joy that can create a lot more pressure for people who aren’t feeling particularly joyful for various reasons. One of the keys to getting through it is to remember that, in fact, you are not alone in feeling this way. Many people are suffering from sickness or depression, are dealing with being separated from loved ones, or coping with personal challenges or financial issues that are overwhelming.
Even if you are lucky enough to be surrounded by loved ones, ironically, this season of cheer and goodwill to all men is the time of year that families and couples fight the most. There is nothing quite like an extended period of time in an enclosed space with your nearest and dearest to push your biggest buttons and, when you add alcohol to the mix, things predictably go downhill.
Being single during the holidays is arguably worse than being part of a fighting couple: For some reason, being unwillingly single for the holidays sucks even more than on Valentine’s day, presumably because you at least have a fighting chance at ignoring the existence of the latter.
All this pales in comparison to how hard it is to get through the holidays when you are mourning a loved one. It is particularly painful, not just because it is a time full of memories, but because everywhere you turn, the message is that this is the time to be together with loved ones. The joy that the rest of the world seems to be experiencing can make those burdened by grief feel particularly isolated.
The most important survival skill at this time of year is to give yourself permission to have the feelings you are having. Stop telling yourself that you ought to be feeling differently just because the calendar is on this particular page. It is hard enough to deal with difficult feelings without heaping guilt and shame on top of them. Quit Should-ing yourself. Expectations are 99% of the cause of all suffering. Give up the expectation that you should be feeling or reacting any differently to the way that you are. At a minimum, accept that the reality is this is how you are feeling. Even better, show yourself a little compassion and respect the fact that if you had a choice, you wouldn’t choose to be feeling like this.
Step 2 is to imagine yourself as someone else that you care about and think about how you would treat them if they were feeling this way. Perhaps you would be a little more patient? Give them a break? Give them permission to curl up under the covers until they felt stronger? Everyone is unique and we all have different things that make us feel better – and crucially for some people, the most important thing is simply having permission not to feel better until we do. Sometimes it takes a heck of a lot more time and energy to try to stop yourself having a feeling than to let it run it’s course. Sometimes, little things can help a lot. Be brave and ask for help. If that’s too much or there doesn’t seem to be anyone available, come up with a short list of things you can do for yourself that might help. Maybe it’s going to the movies and escaping reality for a while, finding someone to talk to, getting some exercise, making yourself some nourishing food.
Step 3 is to remember that practicing gratitude can be a very helpful aid. Sometimes, even coming up with a list of things to be grateful for is a major challenge (click for a link to a post on some suggestions to get started). If that’s the case, try an appreciation list instead. When all seems lost, sometimes it helps to focus on appreciation for the things we have experienced, the ability to feel, the breath that still carries hope that there will be a better moment ahead. If these holidays are hard for you, I truly hope something here will be helpful. Please remember that you are not alone and that everything changes. This too shall pass, I promise. I wish you peace in your heart.
I have a confession to make, I fell off the self-care wagon. Looking after myself has been an Epic Fail the past few weeks. Quite frankly, if I were a dog-sitter I would have fired me for reckless disregard to needs for adequate exercise, rest and good nutrition
I had a major lack of short-term motivation to think about long-term goals. I was besieged by an inner conflict, as all my good intentions got defeated, one by one.
Healthy, mature me: “ I should really go to the gym tonight”
Adolescent me with bad attitude: “I’m gonna watch tv.”
H.M.M: “Ok if the gym is too much effort, I could do a little yoga here”
A.M.W.B.A: “Screw yoga, Where’s the wine?”
H.M.M: “At the very least, I think you really need an early night”
A.M.W.B.A: “Leave me alone, I’ll go to bed when I want to”
The worst part of not taking care of myself is that I know better – and not in any sanctimonious expert kind of way. Unless you’ve been under a rock somewhere, I think it’s fairly safe to say that we all have an idea of what self-care should entail. If only it were that simple. And it’s not just me.
I regularly meet people who wouldn’t neglect a house-plant they way they treat themselves. A big part of the problem, it seems to me, is that people are uncomfortable with the whole concept of self-care, judging it to synonymous with narcissistic naval gazing and self-indulgence of celebrity proportions.
There is such a cultural aversion to it that you could be forgiven for thinking there is a competition for America’s biggest martyr, when you listen to people try to outdo each other with boasts of how much they are working and how little sleep they are getting.
People who do a good job at looking after others are amongst the worst offenders when it comes to looking after themselves, it seems. As for professional caregivers – Oy. These are intelligent people with a good sense of cause and effect and more than a passing understanding of human biology and yet they would pretty much rather die of a stress-related illness rather than take the risk that anyone could possibly accuse them of being selfish.
The ironic thing is that actually, not taking care of yourself is really far more selfish. If you neglect your physical well-being for long enough, chances are you will be checking out on your loved ones somewhat earlier than they could have wished for. And back in the here and now, when you don’t manage your stress, you’re guilty of polluting other people’s day with a toxic emission of negative energy.
Self-care is about taking personal responsibility for your health and well-being. About ensuring that you show up for the people and things that matter, most able to give your best. At the very least, it’s about maintaining your physical body in good working order for as long as possible. Not eating crap, moving the moving parts on a fairly regular basis, resting when you are tired. That’s the minimum and yet even that seemed like an impossible task last month. I was way beyond prevention, but I was unable even to activate the rescue plan that I would usually implement to get myself out of burnout.
Happily, I think I have figured out was going on and it’s already getting better, thanks to the phenomenal healing gifts of Dr. of Oriental medicine, Tansy Briggs. She explained to me that when chronic stress reaches a critical level, it triggers a permanent acute response to everything. As my recent blood work confirmed, my cortisol (the stress hormone) level indicates that my fight or flight mechanism has been stuck in the on position for a while now and closely resembles that of someone with PTSD. Thanks to my mind, my body has been locked in survival mode.
The sympathetic nervous system evolved back in the day when having a snappy response to an approaching tiger was a giant asset. However, living today like a tiger is permanently about to attack is not conducive to doing most of the things that are helpful to my stress level. It makes sense really. If I thought the chances were fairly high that I was about to be eaten by a tiger, I probably would choose the extra calories with a side of Chardonnay. As far as exercise is concerned, I’d want to conserve my energy to out-sprint the tiger – this of course, is the reason that there are no prehistoric cave drawings of people doing aerobics.
No wonder I couldn’t convince myself to leave the house and head for the gym, my body was sending me signals that a disaster might happen at any second, sheltering in place was the obvious choice. Tansy explained that she needed to “reset” my adrenal function with acupuncture. And believe it or not, after just one session, I woke up with the startling realization that I wasn’t feeling stressed. Normal, happy even. Rational. Willing and able to quite cheerfully go for a run and hit both Saturday and Sunday 8am yoga classes this weekend. What a relief.
Sometimes it seems that just knowing what one should do differently is not enough. We need to ask for help. And that involves believing that it’s more than ok to take care of yourself. You deserve it and so do the people who love you.
I saw this photo on the web today and I just had to buy the poster. To me it says so much about what so many women I know yearn for in relationship: To be able to be the driven woman, charging ahead towards her goals and yet to also enjoy the feeling of being held by powerful arms. This guy is so clearly un-threatened by her power. He doesn’t have a problem letting her drive, he exudes confidence, intellect, sexiness and fun. He trusts her enough not to second guess the direction she’s taking and is on the look out for something awesome on the way that they can share and enjoy together.
The alpha woman and relationships
The subject of the alpha woman and relationships has come up twice this week, once in a fascinating chat I had with a dynamic woman who is a highly successful entrepreneur and mega star of the blogosphere and again on Twitter, in tweets between Patti Stanger, of Bravo tv’s Millionaire Matchmaker fame (@pattistanger) and reality tv star and Pageant Queen, Monica Pietzrak (@Monicawickedfit).
The first conversation revolved around the fact that for women entrepreneurs success can actually put more strain on a marriage than failure. We got to talking about the subtexts in a relationship to do with money and power. The Twitter exchange went like this: Monica tweeted “Why do successful alpha women crave the alpha guy? Will it truly never work? I’ve always been told “can’t have two #1′s” and Patti quipped in reply, “Ha! Yes it’s true we want a man to overpower us. So when you get an alpha man you become a beta woman!”
Patti’s use of the word “overpower” makes me flinch a little. This is a highly controversial area, not least because of the historical abuses of power and violence between the sexes. Many women fear to disclose a secret desire to be ravished, lest it is taken as an invitation to rape. But it’s worth venturing into the breech and talking about because it’ s an issue that many of the brilliant and beautiful women I know wrestle with: How do we reconcile our desire and ability to equal and even exceed men in business with our secret yearning to be “treated like a woman”. Just to be clear, whilst referring to straight women here, this issue relates to anyone of any gender whose preference lies in predominantly “feminine” traits and who enjoys intimacy with someone whose preference lies in predominantly “masculine” traits.
Why do I have to choose?
This is the dilemma of the modern woman - whilst I may be an expert at skilfully utilizing the “masculine” traits of my personality to kick butt in the world, when I come home, akick off my shoes and wonder in to the bedroom, my comfort (and pleasure!) zone lies in being in my feminine in relation to a partner who is exhibiting “masculine” traits. Critics accuse us of wanting to have our cake and eat it but why can’t I be an equal in the boardroom and still get the door opened? Why do I have to choose? For more on this ideology, check out the work of David Deida, no stranger to controversy himself, and his best-selling book The Way of The Superior Man.
The feminine feminist
Living 21st century, post-modern, industrial society, the pace of life is overwhelmingly masculine. It’s all about action and achievement and the faster the better. I wonder if that’s why we sub-consciously absorb this assertion that the feminine traits are in some way less powerful and judge them in ourselves. Growing up as a girl in the seventies, equality of the sexes was drummed into us at school at every opportunity, our anthem was “Anything you can do, I can do better”. The underlying message was that Pink was both Powerless and Pathetic. I exchanged it for black as soon as I could and didn’t wear it again until my thirties, when I decided to come out of the closet as a feminine feminist.
In theory the battle of the sexes should be over, but have we really come that far? What messages about being feminine and being powerful are we offering to girls – (or even more pointedly to boys who exhibit feminine traits) today? Women are certainly seen to be powerful, yet the power they exhibit often follows limiting stereotypes. Look at the media and you would be forgiven for thinking that there are only two ways to the top. One involves selling your body and the other selling your soul. Where is the middle ground between “pussy power” and being “an alpha male with a vagina”?
Vive La Différence
I think the answer for these successful women lies in giving up competition – not in favor of becoming submissive, (heaven forbid), but exchanging it for a paradigm of cooperation (which is of course, the feminine model, technically speaking). The road to peace and passion lies in embracing the concept of complementary opposites. I’m in favor of valuing our different qualities equally instead of trying to dilute them into an equal similarity, or as the French put it, Vive La Différence.