Calling all healers

purple-spring-flowers

Since the election, when I’ve been thinking about how to best be of service during this time, I’ve heard a little voice in my head say, “Help the healers.”

At first, this didn’t make sense to me, and then I thought about how divided we are as a nation. How the election has caused some people to lose friends and family members. How high stress levels are. We need healers, people who excel at making people and things whole again, more than ever.

The word “heal” comes from the Old English word hælan, to, “cure; save; make whole, sound and well.” If you consider your work to be healing (e.g. alternative medicine, art, bodywork, coaching, counseling, environmental, mediation, meditation, nonprofit, religious, social work, spiritual, teaching, therapy, western medicine, writing, yoga), I’d love it if you would take my anonymous 10-question Calling All Healers survey. I want to learn about your Big Vision for your healing work in the world, about what comes easily, and what your challenges are.

If you know of other healers who might be willing to take the survey, please pass it on to them.

Thank you!

P.S. If you’re a healer, you might like a post I wrote last summer, 7 Social Media and Online Marketing Tips for Healers.

Photo by me.

Every act of love and friendship will make a difference

heartinclouds

My husband and I recently started to re-watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I wanted to see an epic story about a group of beings from different cultures (hobbits, elves, dwarves, humans, wizards) working together to defeat a terrible, evil force.

At the end of the first film, The Fellowship of the Ring, the main character, Frodo, decides that he needs to continue alone on the long, difficult journey to Mordor to destroy the ring. As he stands on the shore, poised to set off by himself, he remembers a conversation he had with the wizard, Gandalf:

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.

As Frodo starts to row across the water, his best friend, Samwise Gamgee, comes running after him and almost drowns. After Frodo rescues him, Sam reminds Frodo of a promise he made to Gandalf:

Sam: I made a promise, Mr. Frodo. A promise. “Don’t you leave him, Samwise Gamgee.” And I don’t mean to. I don’t mean to.

We haven’t finished the trilogy yet, but if memory serves, Frodo wouldn’t have succeeded on his journey without Sam’s help.

You can watch the clip here:

I also recently re-watched Love Actually, a 2003 romantic comedy that follows 10 love stories. The film opens with images of real people greeting each other in the airport (it was filmed with hidden cameras). In the voiceover, Hugh Grant says:

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion is starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that.

Seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there: fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends.

When the planes hit the twin towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge. They were all messages of love.

If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking feeling that love actually is all around.

You can watch the opening scene, and the closing scene, which shows additional airport footage, here.

Why am I sharing these clips? Because they reminded me that love, support, friendship, caring and connection have power.

One of the antidotes for our divided world will be to increase people’s experiences of interconnectedness. So, be like Samwise Gamgee. If someone is struggling, walk beside them on their journey. Give them a call and listen. Send a surprise gift. Make a meal. Sit with them so they don’t feel alone. Every act of love and friendship will make a difference.

Photo of a heart in the clouds by me.

Big Vision Love Day: Pay What You Can Feb 10

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I woke up yesterday feeling like my heart was shrinking. Something about witnessing the repeated acts of selfishness, unkindness, intolerance and hate in the news and on social media was making me feel small, powerless, and contracted.

And then a video of someone bringing gifts to young people in a shelter for homeless LGBTQ youth popped up on in my Facebook feed, and I felt my heart grow a little larger. It was as if I needed to be reminded that acts of compassion are still possible and that the power of love and kindness is real.

So, I would like to offer you a gift.

Being confused, stuck, or in transition around your work in the world, can be painful and financially stressful. Sometimes all it takes is one hour talking with someone to see the beginning of the path ahead, but you just can’t afford it when you need it the most.

On Big Vision Love Day, Friday, February 10, 2017, when you purchase a one-hour Big Vision Mentoring session, you’ll have the option to pay-what-you-can. Your session is non-refundable, but you can use it any time. It never expires. You can find more information on my Big Vision Mentoring page. I wish I could offer this for a month, like I did last year, but my schedule won’t allow me to serve the number of people who signed up last year.

If you feel like talking with me for an hour would help you get unstuck on your Big Vision journey towards your work in the world, please don’t hesitate to ask for help.

What is a gift you can give to bring a little love and kindness to someone today?

How to work with fear in these times

Magical Tree

Please note: I don’t have a medical, psychological, or healing background to draw advice from on how to work with fear, but I can offer the tools I use, and reflections from my Facebook community.

If you’re a regular reader, you know that I dealt with a lot of health issues last year, including PTSD from medical trauma. Since then, I’ve become more aware of how fear affects my body and my mind. As I watch the news, scroll through my Facebook feed, talk with friends, and observe myself, I’m aware that our collective fear level is very high.

The purpose of fear is to compel us to take action to survive: to fight, or to flee. According to the Psychology Today post, The Anatomy of Fear, when you feel fear, your body does this:

“[Y]our heart rate increases, your blood pressure goes up, your breathing gets quicker, and stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released. The blood flows away from the heart and out towards the extremities, preparing the arms and legs for action.”

And your brain does this:

“[T]he brain basically shuts down as the body prepares for action. The cerebral cortex, the brain’s center for reasoning and judgment, is the area that becomes impaired when the amygdala senses fear. The ability to think and reason decreases as time goes on, so thinking about the next best move in a crisis can be a hard thing to do.”

The thing is, we aren’t supposed to feel fear 24/7. It’s not good for our bodies, or our minds. I’m concerned about our collective physical health (especially without access to affordable healthcare!), and our ability to make good decisions as we navigate this challenging time.

Sunset with beautiful clouds

Here are some of the practices that help me work with fear:

  • Exercise: I try to meet my weekly Fitbit goal of 10,000 steps, do my daily home yoga practice, and go to Zumba once a week.
  • Noticing beauty: Since the election, I’ve been trying to take more walks in nature and take a photo most days of the sunset.
  • Meditation: There are lots of Meditation Timer apps available for your phone.
  • Limiting caffeine, sugar and alcohol: None of these are innately “bad.” I’ve just found that consuming less of them creates less highs and lows throughout the day.
  • Journaling: I find it helpful to write down what I’m grateful for, what I fear, and what my best possible future could look like before I go to sleep at night.
  • Spending time with people I love: No explanation needed ( :
  • Reading cheerful, uplifting, or inspiring things: I’m still on a “cozy mystery” tear.
  • HeartMath: The app is free, but you have to purchase the sensor.
  • Getting support: What’s going on right now can feel pretty overwhelming. Talking with a friend, or a professional (e.g. coach, therapist) about how you’re feeling can help. If you don’t have a friend to talk with, and professional help is too expensive, research if: 1. You can join a group, which is usually less expensive than seeing someone one-on-one, 2. Your local religious/spiritual community has support services, 3. The professional you’d like to see has a sliding scale, 4. There is a free support group you can join (e.g. a 12-step group), or 5. There is a therapist training program in your area with reduced priced counseling (e.g. JFK University Counseling Centers).
  • Body/alternative healing work: I’ve found acupuncture and acucraniatsu massage to be very calming, but it can be expensive. If bodywork isn’t in your budget, see if: 1. The bodyworker you’d like to see has a sliding scale, or is open to a skills trade, 2. There is a healing training program near you that needs people for their students to practice on for a reduced fee (e.g. National Holistic Institute Student Massage Clinic), or 3. There is an affordable healing clinic near your (e.g. Oakland Acupuncture Project, Deep Roots Urban Refuge).

sunset

I also asked my Facebook community to share their thoughts, ideas, and resources for how to work with fear:

• Transformational leadership coach, Julie Daley, writes in her post, Developing a Foundation for a Creative Life, “You are not afraid. You are feeling fear. There is a big difference. One slaps the identity of fear on you, that you are a fearful being. When we do this, we begin to believe that we are afraid. But, when we realize fear has nothing to do with our identity, that it is something we feel just like any other feeling, we shift into an entirely different relationship with it. It no longer is us. Instead, we can keep moving, feeling whatever comes.”

• Doula, Zoe Krylova, asks the pregnant women she works with who are having a lot of fear around childbirth to make a list of their fears and then a counter list of best outcomes. Each time a fear comes up, she asks them to counter the fear with a positive possibility (e.g. “I am too old and out of shape to have the strength to push out my baby,” becomes, “My baby will descend with ease and my body will work with me to push the baby out with success.”). You can use this technique in any situation when you fear the worst outcome: a medical procedure, a series of tests or challenges, travel, or civic and environmental concerns.

• In her e-book, 30 Days of Courage, Marianne Elliott, author of Zen Under Fire: A Story of Love and Work in Afghanistan, writes, “In my experience, the bravest thing I could do when I was in free-fall was to sit still and breathe and pay attention.  .  .  . Every morning for 10 minutes, I sat on a cushion with a timer and paid attention to my breath. Every few seconds I would notice that my attention had wandered off with a thought or a plan or a worry or a distraction (and they are all just distractions really) so I would gently nudge my attention back to my  breath and keep sitting. . . . I was training my mind, and like a puppy it needs gentleness and incredible patience.” Marianne has generously made 30 Days of Courage available to download for free.

• Expressive arts instructor, Chris Zydel, says, “Paint. Make art. Use the creative process to channel and engage with your fear in a way that can access your courage.”

Life Artist and Transformational Consultant, Gabriela Masala, writes, “Throughout history, fear has been used as a way to control people and keep them disempowered in survival chemistry (which can not exist at the same time as the chemistry of creation/creativity). For me, working with fear during these challenging times means staying empowered, creative, and connected to creation. It includes flooding my nervous system with the vibrations of nature, beauty, gratitude, affection, touch, love and engaging in a life of embodied soul expression.”

• Ann Dyer, Director at Mountain Yoga, says, “From an energetic point of view, fear is ungrounding. We can work with the body to become more grounded and more rooted in our power. Lots of strong, dynamic leg work and hip opening are recommended!”

• Coach, Lianne Raymond, says she returns again and again to the work of mythologist Martin Shaw. She shared a link to his post, A Counsel of Resistance and Delight in the Face of Fear, where he writes, “Become a prayer-maker. Why? Because what you face in your life is bigger than you can handle. It is. Go to a place with shadows and privacy, and just start talking. There is some ancient Friend that wants to hear from you. No more dogma than that. Use your simple, holy, words. Then sit. Listen. Go for a walk. Let in.”

• Nancy L. Seibel, founder of Keys to Change, LLC and life coach for service-oriented professionals, shared some of her self-care practices in her post, In for the Long Haul: writing, creating visual images, noticing signs of beauty and kindness, finding ways to deeply relax, respecting messages from your body, giving and receiving support, and having fun.

Sharon Price, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Rockwood Leadership Institute wrote, “I was on a call yesterday with teacher, Norma Wong, who shared that in times of maximum fear, our obligation is to create hope. I view this as resistance. Double-down on your own practice of spaciousness and take care of yourself. To start, at least 7+ hours of sleep and clean food. For me, it means my focus and presence in each moment. And I will prioritize self-care, my relationship with my partner, and my work with Rockwood. The discipline of these three. And more love.”

I hope that somewhere among these lists and links there is at least one idea, resource, or tool that will help you during these challenging times.

Please share how you are working with fear so that we can all learn from each other.

All photos by me.

Each word, image, and video we share online has a ripple effect

Since the election, I’ve been at a loss as to what to share online. It feels like the collective is either screaming with rage, weighed down in despair, or checked out. I stare at my screen and wonder, “What should I share? What is truly needed?”

I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve talked to recently who have said, “I don’t go on Facebook anymore,” or “I’m spending as little time online as possible.” If I didn’t do most of my work online, I’d probably log off too. The collective roar of virtual anger, sadness and despair can feel overwhelming.

I think we’re going to see a rise in live events to counter online fatigue, but the web isn’t going anywhere. Whether you share your thoughts online personally, or professionally, I think it’s important for all of us to think about how each word, image, and video we share online has a ripple effect.

In my opinion, there are four qualities we need to cultivate in our online communication during these stressful times:

Forest lake in Maine

1. Truth. The web has made communication and sharing so easy that many of the rules of good journalism have been thrown out the window (e.g. fact-checking, researching the validity of sources, giving credit to work that is not your own). As we enter into a time when the term “alternative facts” has become part of our lexicon, it’s more important than ever to share the truth online. That means everything from making sure quotes are attributed to the right person (even inspiring ones), to not assuming everything you read online is true, to researching and crediting sources, to not painting our lives as being full of unicorns and rainbows.

Sequoias

2. Grounded. Information overload + emotional overload = overwhelm and shut down. People need concrete, relevant, accessible, timely information right now (e.g how to cook dinner for your family after working all day, how to manage post-election anxiety, how to start journaling, how to contact your Congressperson, how to cultivate a daily exercise routine, how to be an intersectional activist). So many people are asking, “What can I do?” Help them channel their fear and anxiety into practical actions that will help them feel calm and empowered.

Bright Pink Flower

3. Uplifting. Just like when you’re carrying a heavy box for a long time, you have to stop and rest once in a while, we need to have breaks from the unrelenting bad news, or we’ll shut down. Reading something funny, hopeful, inspiring, or entertaining can re-energize us. There’s a reason that comedic takes on the news (e.g. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Full Frontal with Sam Bee, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, SNL’s Weekend Update) are so popular. They allow us to laugh at horrible things. Give your people a reason to feel hope and joy again.

cozy cat

4. Safety. There’s sooooooooo much that we need to talk about right now, but we can’t do it if we feel like we’re going to be virtually screamed at when we share our opinion. One of the beauties of social media is that it is social. It can facilitate conversation and sharing. Unfortunately, it can also encourage trolling and verbal abuse. In order to foster online discussions, we need to create safe spaces where people feel comfortable voicing their opinion and sharing their story. One way to do that is to create very clear commenting and discussion guidelines, and to jump in quickly if they aren’t being followed.

What do you think of the state of our online conversation at the moment?

How has it changed what, or how you communicate online?

Photos by me.