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What I’ve Learned from Talking to Souls

Since I started talking to other people’s souls a few months ago, I’ve noticed some common themes that show up in pretty much every conversation I do. Granted, we’re not talking about a sample of more than a few handfuls of people as opposed to thousands or even hundreds (yet), but it’s hard to believe these commonalities are merely coincidences.

Here’s a list, in no particular order:

1. Your soul loves you and wants to support you in having the life you want.

I think many (if not most) of us wound up with a rather harsh view of how the world works. We think we have to perform in order to gain approval and favor, or even love.

That’s not what I hear from the souls I talk to, though. What I hear over and over is that regardless of your choices, past and future, regardless of how you feel, regardless of your worldview, your soul is there for you and will meet you exactly where you are.

Not only that, your soul is always ready and willing to connect with you more deeply, but they’re waiting from the okay from you.

2. You want what you want for a reason. It’s not random.

Anytime anybody asks their soul what their purpose is, or what they should be doing with their life, the response is always some variation of “do what makes your heart sing.”

Why? Because you and your soul chose those desires together. So of course your soul wants to support you in fulfilling those wants.

The only thing you’re supposed to do is to pull on the threads of the things that light you up and make you feel fucking excited to do them.

3. Whatever it is you want for yourself, you need to offer yourself.

There’s something important about the idea of having the things you want come from within. Want connection? Connect with yourself, first. Want compassion? Offer it to yourself before you expect others to offer it to you.

Anything that comes from the outside, without the inside component, won’t satisfy the want/need. Or it will only be a short-term fix.

4. The point of life is to experience it. The experience isn’t a means to an end, it’s the end in itself.

There’s not only one “right” path, so do the things you want to do. Learn what you can, notice what it does for you, and bring that knowledge forward to the next experience.

We can only experience this life to the absolute fullest if we allow ourselves to be who we are. Otherwise, we’re just holding ourselves back and ignoring what really turns us on (see #2).

5. Your soul feels extreme compassion for you and doesn’t judge you.

It’s okay to feel that you’ve made a mess of something (I feel that way at least once a day, usually), but to your soul it’s just another experience in your life (see #4).

If you’re beating yourself up because you keep putting off doing the thing you know you want to do, you’ll get no scolding from your soul. But beware – you’ll get no coddling, either.

You’ll get exactly the right amount of kindness and get-off-your-ass-ness because your soul knows what you need (not what you think you need, but what you actually need).

Why all of this is important and worth sharing

We each wind up with a set of beliefs about how the world works and how we should live.

Some of those beliefs are helpful, and some are decidedly unhelpful.

Those unhelpful beliefs can leave us feeling as though we’d rather not connect deeply to ourselves, because what if our inner landscape winds up reflecting the harshness we’ve experienced in our outer lives? What if you ask your soul for help and it tells you no, or it laughs or just ignores you?

That is not the role your soul plays. It’s not here to goad you into action by withholding love and care, or by making you miserable in some way. It’s here to help you remember who you really are.

My deepest wish is for you to feel safe enough to experience the connection of communicating with your own soul – whether I facilitate that conversation or you do it yourself.

That connection is the key to making the deeper shifts and dismantling the unhelpful beliefs. It’s how you feel safe enough to put yourself out there creatively, how you recover from setbacks, and how it gets easier to enjoy the whole crazy adventure.

Ten Facts about Me That You May or May Not Find Interesting

Inspired by Sarah Lacy, who then inspired Kelly Parkinson, I’ve decided to reveal some things about myself.

(Can I be honest and say that I’m afraid I’m revealing all my good party stories? And that if we ever meet in person, I’ll wind up telling these same stories and you’ll roll your eyes and think to yourselves, “Uh, yeah. We’ve heard this one already.”)

Also? This post is the result of me avoiding writing the post about traditions and rituals that I’ve been meaning to write.

In no particular order, I present the Facts with Varying Amounts of Interestingness.

1. I learned a lot of crafts from my grandmother, which means I did a lot of grandmother-ish crafts as a child.

I used to do needlepoint. And make beaded wire flowers. And quilling! Yes, I used to quill. Generally not something you would expect from a nine year-old.

I even used quilling in a project for school when we were studying the 13 Colonies.

(Okay, fine…this one isn’t a story I’d be likely to bust out at a cocktail party.)

2. I once was in a serious hurricane.

Her name was Marilyn. I was in St. Croix.

Electricity was out by dinner time. The eye passed over maybe 9 or 10pm, I think. I definitely remember that things got really quiet – it even stopped raining while the eye was overhead. Even though I knew it was the eye, I was crushed when the other half of the hurricane picked back up, because in the hour or so of quiet, I’d convinced myself it was over.

That was such a long night. And So. Loud. But the aftermath was really the worst, I think. Poor visibility in the water for what seemed like a week or two after the storm. And once it cleared up, the reefs were in shambles. I still feel sad when I think about that. Circle of life, shmircle of life.

3. I can’t drive a stick shift, and probably will never learn.

Well, I guess that’s not quite true. After the hurricane, I had to drive a Suzuki Samurai between the dive shop and the house. I almost wrecked it once. But the only reason I could drive it was because there were hardly any cars around (see: hurricane) and there were no hills. And I wasn’t going to have to parallel park.

So, get me to a large, flat area that’s devoid of other cars and I’ll be happy to drive stick.

4. I attended the wrap party for The Cowboy Way.

I never saw the movie, but some portion of it was filmed in Montauk on Long Island, since that’s where the party was.

That’s about all I can say about that. In writing, anyway.

5. I love the idea of dogs, but they are too stinky, slobbery and high-maintenance for me, so I’ve remained a cat person.

I’m high-maintenance enough, thankyouverymuch. And the crotch sniffing? I’ll pass.

6. I have one tattoo. Which I acquired in Bangkok, Thailand.

Looking back, probably not the wisest place to have someone stick needles into one’s body. And before anyone lectures me about all the diseases I could have caught, I got tested a couple years later when the scales of youth’s stupidity fell off my eyes.

7. I was a vegetarian for five years.

I gave it up because of #8.

8. I did a year abroad in Japan and lived with a Japanese family.

It was just easier to eat what they served than to try to explain my choices in Japanese.

9. I have a mad crush on New England accents.

I don’t have the accent, because I didn’t move to New Hampshire until I was 12. And I hated the accent when I was there. I thought it was so ugly.

But now that I moved away, I love hearing it. It’s utterly beautiful to me.

10. A tarot reading changed my life.

Might sound melodramatic, but it really, really was that reading that set me on the path I’m on now. Up to that point, I’d been too scared to try anything new, for fear that I’d be bad at it or not like it. And that was in spite of reading Barbara Sher and Martha Beck, and working with a coach.

Although I’d heard it before, one of the things he said was, “Life is not a dress rehearsal.”

Perhaps a bit cliche, but somehow that helped things click and a month later I started my life coach training.

There you have it.

Wow. I think this was probably the most fun I’ve had writing a blog post since my blog was born! Much gratitude to Sarah and Kelly for inspiring this!

How about you guys? Care to participate? Leave a random or bizarre fact in the comments, or write your own post and link to it here so we can all enjoy!

Happy holidays, everyone. Thanks for being here.

I’ve Been Interviewed!

Hey everybody!

I’ve been interviewed for the first time ever by the lovely Connie over at Dirty Footprints Studio!

(Okay, slight clarification. I’ve been interviewed lots for jobs, but never about my business!)

I first met Connie when I participated in Jamie Ridler’s Wreck This Journal book club – she was a fellow wrecker. As it turns out, we are also neighbors in the real world. As in, the actual world, outside of the internet.

What are the odds?!?

Connie asked great questions about how I launched my business, and I did my best to answer them. I’d love it if you’d head on over and check it out!

While you’re there, take a few moments to check out her beautiful artwork, too!

When Selves Collide

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably already know that I like to talk to my blocks and various selves (à la Havi and Hiro). Here’s a little story about some insight I gained by doing this seemingly wacky stuff.

Lately I’ve been feeling completely overwhelmed and tired and generally down, leading to a heavy case of the Blahhhhs. (Yes, that’s the medical term.)

I was so completely devoid of motivation that I wasn’t even able to meditate or journal about it.

Finally, yesterday I got myself to do a little Dance of Shiva and then meditate.

The question I asked before starting to dance was, “What needs to shift in order to stop feeling so stuck?”

A few minutes of Level 4 was about all I could handle, followed by some savasana.

Once I started meditating, I dropped into my heart, and tried to meet with some of my selves, to see if I could get a handle on why I was having such a hard time.

I can’t share much detail right now, but part of why I’m having a hard time is because there are certain things I have to do that I no longer want to do. And when things get difficult during the things-I-don’t-want-to-do, I’ve been having extreme emotional reactions. Despair, anxiety, hopelessness, powerlessness.

Not much was happening amongst my selves, so I focused my attention on whichever self it was who was creating these strong reactions.

Enter Self #1

I don’t know what this self looks like (no defining characteristics like my friend Hedgehog Girl). But pretty quickly I sensed that this self was creating these strong reactions so that I’ll hurry up and make the changes necessary so that I won’t have to do that icky stuff anymore.

She’s afraid that if she stops giving me these unpleasant reactions, I’ll just coast along. The change I want to make will never happen, because I’ll be too comfortable.

Hmmm…interesting.

So I thanked her for caring about me. And for believing that I can make the necessary changes. And especially for her wanting to support me in making this change.

(And I wasn’t just blowing smoke, either. There’s something surprisingly touching about having a part of yourself doing what it can to make sure you accomplish the things you want.)

Then I explained that these extreme emotional reactions are draining me of my energy. And when my energy is drained, I can’t do what I need to do to make the changes I want to make.

I asked her, “What kind of agreement can we make, so that you know I’m making these changes as fast as possible, and you’re not helping me in a way that actually slows me down?”

Silence.

And then I got, “It’s not just me.”

For a second I didn’t know what that meant, but then I realized there were two selves at play.

Hello, Self #2

Self #1 was creating the strong reactions in hopes that I would hurry up and make this change.

But Self #2 was drafting off of those reactions, and keeping me from channeling that desire for change into action toward change.

Because Self #2 is afraid of what the change will mean for me and this (mostly) comfortable life I have. She prefers the devil she knows.

Both of these selves are actually trying to protect me, even though they’re going about it in opposite ways.

One is trying to protect me from withering away in stagnation, the other from taking crazy risks that will put me in danger.

That’s about as far as I got with that meditation before my mind started to wander. But it’s a good start toward unravelling this stuck.

The next step will be to try to help them both see that their attempts to help are actually hurting. And then it will be time to find out what they will need to feel safe enough to back off and cut me some slack.

The beauty of it is, even before they’ve started giving me breathing room, I feel better.

Now when if I have an over-reaction to the things I no longer want to do, I’ll know what it’s about. And I’ll know why it’s so hard to recover and get cracking.

Reaching that point of not beating myself up or asking myself why why why for not doing the things I want to do is a huge step toward changing the pattern.

Sleep Is More Important Than Self-Improvement

Prepare to be wowed with some scientific claims of dubious validity. Well, there is some real science, and then some additional thoughts from me. Full disclosure: I am not a scientist.

These thoughts were prompted in part by Jen Louden’s Freedom from Self-Improvement Week.

Last weekend I watched an episode of Nova Science NOW on PBS. There was a segment about sleep, and its connection to memory. (You can watch the full segment here.)

We still don’t know the true purpose of sleep, but nearly all organisms sleep in some form.

Scientists are finding that there is a connection between sleep and memory.

And what is memory? Or, rather, what does memory allow us to do? Learn.

Remember that thing that happens after playing Tetris, where you keep seeing the pieces fall when you close your eyes to go to sleep? That is part of your brain’s way of learning how to play the game better.

Scientists (which ones? I didn’t bother to write down their names…you know, they) are also able to watch brain activity in rats as they learn how to navigate a maze.

That exact sequence of brain activity is later observed while the rats sleep, as though the brain is replaying the memories so that the rat can learn to navigate the maze more efficiently.

And then there’s the old adage of “sleeping on” a problem. You’re trying to work through something but you can’t come up with a solution, so you decide to sleep on it.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve woken up to solutions quite a few times over the years.

Ready to make some not-so-solid logical leaps with me?

What if this process of integrating knowledge, or transferring memories from short-term to long-term, or whatever you want to call it – this brain magic – wasn’t limited to actual sleep?

What if it applied to relaxing, too? Or even having fun? Or general hanging-out?

Does science back this up? I doubt it, but I don’t care.

What does this have to do with Freedom from Self-Improvement?

The idea behind Jen’s Freedom from Self-Improvement Week is that we are wonderful and loveable, just as we are.

And that we don’t always have to be striving to Get Better or Be Better or Do More. We have nothing to prove. We are who we are – beautifully.

And here is where my thoughts begin to fall apart just a little

What I would like to suggest is that giving ourselves permission to Just Be is the very thing that will allow us to…

To what?

Well, maybe this kind of goes against the spirit of Freedom from Self-Improvement Week.

But what I was going to say was…

Giving ourselves permission to sleep and relax and Just Be is the very thing that will allow us to make the improvements we want to make.

And here’s why I think this still fits with Freedom from Self-Improvement

Yes, you could argue that if we’re really fine the way we are, we shouldn’t want or need to make any improvements.

Here’s my answer to that:

Am I loveable just the way I am? Yes.
Do I have patterns in my life that are uncomfortable for me? Yes.
Do I want to replace some of those patterns with ones that are more nourishing? Yes.
Can I learn to work on my patterns in more compassionate ways? Yes.
Does that compassion sometimes involve choosing not to work on my patterns? Yes.

The point

Self-improvement becomes excruciating when we don’t acknowledge our need for Rest.

Our brains need to sleep in order to learn and function more efficiently.

I believe our Selves are no different. We need periods of not trying to improve in order to integrate what we’ve learned thus far in our self-improvement efforts.

Yin and yang, push and pull, work and rest. We need both sides of the equation to maintain balance.

Granting ourselves freedom from self-improvement is, paradoxically, like a more enlightened form of self-improvement.

Rather than suppressing who we are, it makes space for change that can come from a place of honoring who we are, just as we are.