Transition & Silence

transition

Out in the woods I’m wrapped in a silence that, curiously, includes sound. The swish and creak of trees when a strong breeze comes through, the buzz of insects, the soft thud of my footsteps on the ground – all of it seems to come out of the silence and fade back into it in easy rhythms. It’s the coming and going of the woods breath, its experience of being alive. Suddenly a deep breath and there’s a transition into exuberant sound – the rat-tat-tat of Woodpeckers, Ravens calling and croaking their messages to one another, the sound of thunder in the distance.

My experience of the woods mirrors where I’ve been as a writer, artist, coach and with the activities related to Feral Compass.

After the retreat that kicked off the training with CLCC, I’ve found new pathways that lead deeper into my internal terrain.  From the outside, my life looks pretty much the same but the new shifts taking place feel big. Internally, I’ve been in transition between one way of being into another. In that pause I’ve only heard the rhythms of my breath and the whispering of my Feral Nature. It hasn’t been time for a deep breath that would lead into a blog post or newsletter. Anything I tried to create felt forced, writing for the sake of having something to post, so I stayed quiet except for a few posts on Facebook and Instagram.

I’m discovering new weather patterns (including a few storms!) and new growth sprouting from the compost pile of things I’m letting go of because they no longer serve me.

Finally, a deep breath. As I find my footing within these new patterns and rhythms my world has exploded in colors, ideas, words, and a desire to share in hopes it will be of benefit to others.

Some of you have been checking in on the blog, thank you for being here and for your patience. I truly appreciate you!

We all find ourselves in times of external and/or internal transition that shift our perceptions and ways of being. I’ve learned to be patient, to listen carefully, put my ear to the ground of intuition, to ask for help when needed, to honor the wisdom others share and, most importantly, to observe myself with compassion and stay curious about what unfolds. I’ve learned not to force myself into anything simply because I’m uncomfortable with not having it all figured out.

If your finding yourself in that space of transition and not knowing, I hope you will trust that you have within you the seeds and sprouts of wisdom. Nurture them with compassion, courage and curiosity.

Much Love

Share/Bookmark

Living Courage. Myself.

courage

In this week leading up to the retreat for Courageous Coaching I feel a swirl of excitement, calm and courage, but I hit a challenge when I decided to shop locally and in person for a sweater. I love my body more than I ever have, not because I lost weight or changed it in some way. I appreciate it, nurture it, and treat it with respect. And yet, twenty minutes into shopping, the toxic cultural messages about my body started playing on a repeating loop in my head. The familiar knot wound itself tight beneath my diaphragm, my skin felt clammy, and shame crept up from that knot in my belly and clamped down on my throat.

Here’s the good thing: I recognized it, gave myself compassion and understanding, focused on the truth, got into the dressing room to breathe deeply for a few minutes before trying anything on. When I made my choices, I made it a point to walk a little taller to look the world in the eye and not keep my head down. The surge of fear began to pass, but the shame still nibbled around my edges. I told myself it was ok to feel that shame and my new-found confidence at the same time.

At home I had a good cry, put on some Chamomile oil and new spirally earrings, journaled for a long time and reached out to a friend I trust and who understands exactly what it feels like to have that kind of shopping experience. For a couple of days the shame came and went – each time I did my best to greet it with compassion.

I am no longer willing to live in the grip of cultural lies. I am only willing to stand in truth.

A DECLARATION

I declare my place in this world, I do not need anyone’s permission.

I am a Feral woman, a woman washing off the slime of domestication.

I am a sovereign woman, a woman who belongs only to herself.

I do not exist to be judged as to whether I am an adequate decoration or for the pleasure or displeasure of a man’s gaze (or anyone else’s.)

I claim my right to take up space, however large or small I might be at any given time.

I claim my courage.

I speak truth to ignorance. I speak truth to power.

I will not die an unlived life for any reason, most especially not because the prevailing culture doesn’t like my size.

My body is my one true home. I love my body as it is now and in all the ways it will change and stay the same.

These are not things I have to convince myself about anymore, I know them in my bones. Being triggered with shame is only evidence of the conditioning I, and many other women, have had thrust on us from the day we were born  – it is not evidence of weakness.

I am kind. I am compassionate. But, make no mistake, I am a force to contend with.

We’ve all been under this body image gun – let’s support and empower one another to live in the truth.

Much Love

New Moon: Fear Is Not a Liar

Fear

The rhythm of the moon cycle reminds us that all things come in due course – there’s a time to rest, reflect, listen, respond, be still, take action, a time to enjoy the fullness of our lives and see the consequences of our choices.

 2016 started for me with the first New Moon of the year – and end and a beginning. I spent the weekend making art and journaling as vehicles to review the year just ending, become clear about where I am now, face my fear, and set flexible intentions for the year as well as for the time until the next New Moon comes around.

The new moon rests inside the glare of the sun – a reminder for us to slow down, take refuge and create space to sink deeply into our minds, hearts and bodies to reflect on how our choices and circumstances have affected our lives. We’ll find what we need to release, what we need to keep and what we need to gather and then, just as the moon reveals herself again one sliver at a time, we go into our next phase of living one moment at a time.

In the past year I’ve started my business, made plans to enter Coaching Training with Kate Courageous and her crew and got through a health scare that had the potential to turn it all on its head, but didn’t. Whew! New medication helped me regain some of my energy and vitality – which also made me hyper-aware of my sensitivities as a HSP. I’ve also entered a deeper and more loving relationship with my body and, to my surprise, began to not only accept my aging, but also to embrace the joys and perks of approaching 60.

Like all of our lives, there’s been loss & gain, and an emotional continuum between the poles of dark and light. 

Now I find myself in a time of transition, of shedding more of the layers that sometimes obscure my connection with my Feral Nature – with the truest, freest, wildest, goodest (yep, I think I made that word up!), most grounded part of myself. The way I express myself in the world has been slowly changing and now feels like it’s on the verge of busting open. It’s time to gather handy tools, resources and ideas for the time ahead. It’s also time to review and reinforce the hard-earned wisdom I’ve gathered, especially what I’ve learned about fear through stumbling around, falling hard, through listening to the wisdom of others so I could find my own, and standing back up to honor my truth.

Fear is not a liar. It doesn’t try to trick us, manipulate us or lead us down questionable paths. It’s not something we need to get rid of, ignore or do battle with. Fear is one of our basic instincts, and intrinsic part of ourselves..

It’s a tool that provides information, alerts and sometimes saves our ass. Although fear isn’t a liar, it can be misinformed. Not because it’s broken, but because the information it receives from the outside culture is often toxic and skewed. It’s not fear’s job to try to sort it all out, decide what’s true or healthy, and hand us a pre-packaged choice. Fear has fast knee-jerk reactions, it’s the way it’s built to keep us from falling in holes or accidentally walking into bonfires.

Fear doesn’t have the powers of critical thinking or a sharp intuition (I see intuition and instinct as separate things, but that’s a whole other blog post.) Those jobs fall to other parts of  our minds and bodies, parts that we have to make a conscious decision to use. 

Even though I love swimming, I spent years of my adult life avoiding it because I felt so ashamed of my body I wouldn’t wear a bathing suit publicly. Fear alerted me to the information it had available: my body was not an acceptable size to wear anything as skimpy as a bathing suit, I was unworthy for having such a body, the risk was high that others would judge my appearance, and that I should punish my body with unrealistic plans to “get in shape.” I took all that information in without processing it, without testing the truth of it. I came to the conclusion that I needed to deny myself the pleasure of swimming until I proved my worthiness by losing weight and molding my body into an acceptable form – which, of course, never happened.

I pushed down my body’s craving to move and slide through water and I ignored the part of my mind that kept popping up to say there was something wrong with the scenario I kept living out. I didn’t understand yet that those were the wisest parts of me trying to get my attention. 

Fear

Swimming in a pool right smack in the middle of our condo complex, with all the balconies and windows facing the pool!

I swim regularly now and I’ve probably gained a few pounds since those days of deprivation! I didn’t annihilate my fear or  trick myself into ignoring it. I did it by taking a look at the information fear had, where it got it from, testing it out and making decisions based on what I found. I gave my fear a different story over and over again until, more often than not, it defaults to the truth. I learned to listen to my body, sometimes before beginning the work of critical thinking, because it so often points at the truth and gives me a starting place. Brene Brown’s book, I Thought it Was Just Me, provides an excellent framework for unraveling the toxic cultural stories that have embedded themselves in our psychological make-up.

In the process, I also began to notice the bits of truth even in fear’s most misguided narratives.

Fear told me others might silently, or perhaps not so silently, judge me for my appearance. Given the culture around women and body image, that probably would happen in some form or the other. Instead of interpreting it as a signal to stay out of bathing suits, I saw it as a signal to shore up my self-care, to understand that we are all worthy of pleasure and certainly entitled to take up space, however small or large. That’s how I weathered the storms that, as fear predicted, did come.

In his book What to Do When It’s Your Turn, Seth Godin advises us to acknowledge the fear  that tells us that something we’ve planned and worked hard on might not work. He says this because that is the truth behind so many of the actions we want to take in the world. Swimming would work because I know how, but it might not have worked because of the chronic health issues I have to manage. My venture into Life Coaching might not work out, or may take another form I don’t know about yet. The point is to acknowledge the truth, prepare emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually for the possibility that we might not get what we want or be able to do what we want. While we’re at it, we can also prepare for the possibility that it will work and for how that might change our lives.  And then go ahead and do it.

I believe it’s dangerous to turn our fear into an enemy to defeat or to disparage it with names like liar and coward, or to believe that fear is a broken part of us. No matter how we try to make it easier on ourselves by externalizing our fear as something separate from us, our bodies and our psyche know better. So each time we fall into that trap we reinforce our feelings of unworthiness and self-doubt because it’s a part of ourselves we demonize. 

I’m excited about the transition I’m experiencing, and I also know that changes will trigger fear. I’ll remind myself to listen carefully to my fear, to treat it with respect and appreciation for the ways it has protected me, to re-educate it when it needs it and to acknowledge the valid information that offers me an opportunity to check in with myself about what I might need to do to get through the whirlwinds of success or failure. If things get tough I’ll reach out to those I trust for help. When the Full Moon comes around I’ll take the time to notice what’s come into reality for me through the combination of choice and circumstance.

What’s the New Moon revealed for you? I hope what I’ve learned can benefit you as you undergo your own challenges, transitions, successes, and failures. I welcome your stories, experiences and questions. You can leave a comment or send me a message here.

Much Love

 

 

 

 

New Year Gratitude and Intentions

New Year

On this first morning of the new year I sat with the last two prompts for December Reflections.

Day 30 – Thank You

My heart gets swoony with gratitude when I think of all the people who have been teachers and supporters in my life, especially over the last 15 years – and that’s not counting all of those who unknowingly influenced me, many of them complete strangers. Over the next year I intend to write to all of those I can contact to let them know how much their presence in this world means to me. A few of these bright lights might show up here at Feral Compass, I’d be over the moon with delight to share them with you!

Over this past year, three people take up big spaces in my heart. My Sweet Man, my coach Rachel Cole and my much-loved friend Kira Elliot. I am grateful for their open hearts, support, guidance, truth-telling and compassion. Thank you dear hearts!

Day 31 – Word for the Year

It’s been challenging to translate how I feel about the new year ahead into words, much less one word. It’s not so much what I hope for 2016, but what I felt bubbling up over the last few months that I want to nurture and cultivate . I’ve doodled all kinds of words in my sketchbook, written lists in my journal and turned a few over on my tongue to see how they felt. Yesterday I thought I finally arrived at a short phrase, but it was like the fireworks that lit up the sky last night – it flashed and sparkled for a short time and then fizzled out. When I began this post I thought I’d end with saying the words still eluded me. But as I wrote, some part of me simplified the jumble of possibilities and handed it to me: Mindfully Alive

I feel more alive than I have in years and more aware of staying present with myself, others, and with all the flavors of experience that show up in each moment. I want to live that aliveness! Courage, compassion, sharing, truth-telling, love, and even a flourish of bright-eyed audacity.

As a young woman the future looked as if it could reach beyond any limiting horizon. As a woman who will turn 59 this year, I see the reality of limited time that was always there. It doesn’t depress me, quite the opposite, I feel shot through with gratitude and enthusiastic curiosity about whatever time is left for me.

I’d love to hear about your gratitude and word for the year! You can leave a comment here on Feral Compass, or on other social media where this post appears.

I wish you all a year filled with all that you need to embrace your life. I wish you a year filled with love and all the goodness your heart can hold. Much Love!

 

 

Happy Holidays from Feral Compass and the Yule Crows

Happy Holidays

Doves aren’t the only ones with a holiday spirit!

 

Hope you all have a wonderful Holiday Season! Wishing you all the things you love best about this time of year and loads of love.

I know for some of us the Holiday Season isn’t exactly the best time – I wish you comfort, understanding and whatever bits of goodness and light you can take in.

I’ll be back next year with a new season of blogging. See you then!