This is not the first time I’ve downsized and let go of stuff. I sold my house in Red Wing and moved into a townhouse one year before I moved to Sweden. I did another round of downsizing when I moved out of the townhouse to head overseas. I’m doing it again in preparation for a simple and more flexible way of living. Plus, I don’t want a storage unit, nor do I want to burden my parents with too much stuff in their space.
Hard to Let Go
I thought letting go would get easier. Yet the ‘stuff’ leftover is the stuff that has the most emotional connection for me.
It was 2005 or so, and I was pushing myself hard—running a business with multiple employees, teaching 12 credits at the technical college, and going to school myself. Suddenly, my body couldn’t take it anymore and I got really sick. Unable to move kind of sick.
Anyone who knows me knows I have limited capacity for movies and television. I’m too restless and really like doing stuff all the time (although that has become much better since Europe.) To get me to sit still for 2+ hours was a feat—unless I was cuddling, multitasking, or at a theater. I was so exhausted I watched the whole Godfather series back-to-back without fidgeting.
Learning From My Students
My teaching assistant taught my classes then stopped by with a card and this bear from my students. I was shocked! So much so, I don’t even think I gave them a proper “thank you” when I did have the strength to resume teaching.
I honestly hadn’t thought my teaching performance was high-level. It fell far short of the quality I demanded of myself. Stressed out and distracted, I flagellated myself for my lack of attentiveness and awareness of their individual struggles; my lack of support; the ability to communicate the nuances of energy, touch, intention and healing to them; my ability to help them heal. I didn’t feel as connected emotionally or energetically to the students as I had in past years because I was too busy doing stuff to focus on the relationships. I learned that perhaps they were more forgiving of me than I was with myself.
This bear has served as a reminder to me to be gentle with myself. To find balance. To let go of internal and external expectations. That health comes first. That relationships are more important than stuff and doing.
The Other Side
Yet at the same time the second hardest thing to let go of was my PILES of flashcards. To me this represented time, schooling, energy, the intent to absorb all the knowledge conveyed in my classes. I threw out piles before I even decided to take these pictures. I felt like I was throwing away hours of work + piles of knowledge.
Flashcards in French and Swedish, of homeopathic remedy themes and indications, anatomy cards highlighting parts of the brain and where all your organs attach to your bones and other soft tissues. They felt like a time capsule of my big tests and academic passions from high school to this year.
The Anxiety hit…maybe I should save them and start studying again! After all, it would be great to brush up on my French. I used to be fluent-why not fire up those neurological pathways and capture the beauty of the language of love? Stuff my free time with remembering all the stuff I used to know?
Let Go to Grow
I’ve done one vision board in my life. It’s three pages (because I folded the board like a book to organize it into personal, professional, and travel. Letting go of stuff reminds me to grow. That clinging onto past relationships, belief systems, icons, and self-imposed measurements doesn’t serve.
I also let go of letters from students and past boyfriends, of cards from people who have died, as well as the subtle belief that I need those items to keep those memories and feelings close to my heart. The items themselves do not make me a better teacher, mentor, healer, or person. The lessons I learned from those people are invaluable. I can honor that best by facilitating similar life-changing experiences for those who ask.
What Are You Ready to Let Go Of?
I’m not still talking about stuff, although maybe that is it for you. What do you envision in your life? What would make you joyful, free, happy? I can help you explore and let go. The clutter, the self-judgment, the expectations. You deserve it.
“It’s hard to hate women when there’s so much awesomeness around me.” The words that came from my mouth on the fourth day of class shocked me. Where on earth did that come from? Here I am, on a massage table, getting CranioSaral work by at least five women, and THAT is what I say?
I laughed out loud. Partially because it was a funny statement, partially because I had no idea where it came from, and partially because I was waiting for the judgement to rain down.
I went back to my campsite that evening after a soak in the hot springs. It was 1 am; I was mulling over my experiences so far.
All week, every relationship that has come up that has needed healing was a betrayal by another woman. From secrets being betrayed, my body being judged, my ideas being shot down, my motives scorned. There wasn’t room for me in this world as a strong, independent woman in my younger years, and I had carried this forward in my body.
A Simple Intention To Heal
My physical intention for this week-long CranioSacral class was easy: Release the scar tissue in my lungs and chest that had been created by the mold exposure as well as the damage caused by the refrigerator that crushed me against a steel beam and caused me to lose function in my right arm for a few weeks.
My Emotional intention was even easier (so I thought.) To heal old relationship issues so I could open my heart even more. After all-I’m still friendly with most of my exes… I knew where my fear was, what my belief system was. I just needed a bit of support clearing that.
Ha. I thought I had work to do around my relationships with men. It makes me chuckle now.
Sitting in the room of 10 female students and 2 female teaching assistants (and the one male teacher) the first day of class, I found ease, grace, and familiarity in us all staking our claim in our roles in the introductions. Like a litany of triumphs- whether traumas, successes, or life struggles.
My name is x, here’s my intention of learning and/or healing for the week, here’s the experiences I’ve had. Strong identities shared. Here is my story. This is what you get to see of me. This is how I choose to portray myself.
A safe space to share trauma is rare. But allowing another woman to see the strength you hold; the power and beauty and sexuality—unheard of.
So we hid. Behind stories. Or perhaps—it was just me hiding. Behind my own ego, my own belief that my 23 years of healing myself had somehow brought me to a different level.
Are Women Taught To Hate Women?
Our group discussion as women the day after my session was fascinating. The same themes came up over and over.
“I don’t trust women.”
“I’ve never experienced love and trust for a group of women before.”
“We are taught as a society to judge and hate women. WTF.”
Together, this group of women let go of hate and bonded in a tighter way than I have ever experienced.
A woman who shared the experience on the table with me said, “Dawn feels like a sister. I wasn’t going to let go of her hand until I knew she was okay.” She turned to me. Protective. Powerful. “I don’t trust very many women. But I can honestly say I love you.”
We discussed how society had trained us to be competitive, mistrustful, judgmental, and hateful towards each other. Not how men had, but how other women had. How we, as women, had lost so much by betraying each other.
Am I Being Melodramatic?
Even writing this story—it seems excessive. Is it true we’ve been taught to distrust and hate each other so much? Reflecting on my experiences + how I hear my male friends discuss how baffled they are by the way women treat each other—I would say yes.
Ask me who my five closest friends are—the ones who know the most about me, who I trust with my life and my soul—only one is female. Fascinating. I’m not judging that or even saying it should be more balanced. Just noticing. Very curious. Curious about the hidden culture that set me up to distrust women—and how my mind latched onto unhealed past circumstances to believe it.
A Personal History of Betrayal; Unhealed Circumstances
Maybe it started in first grade when a classmate called me a whore. I didn’t even know what it meant, but I could tell she was angry and that it was really mean.
Maybe it was in 5th grade when one of my good friends made me choose between her and my other two female friends. I was told I must align or be left behind. I chose wrong that time. The second time she gave me that ultimatum she lost my friendship—or what was left of it.
Maybe it was in sixth grade when a friend told my secret to the whole school. When I got home I got in trouble for sharing the same secret. Doubly shamed.
Maybe it was the girls who made fun of me when I developed early; perhaps it was my male friends’ girlfriends who assumed I was sleeping with their partners, as they clung with a jealous ferocity to the boy they had captured.
Maybe it was the time in high school when I overheard two women talking about how I was having sex with my boyfriend; their shocked tones and catty judgement easy to hear through the bathroom stall.
Hell, I didn’t know I was doing the stuff they said I was doing with him. I would have been shocked at myself too at that age.
College Was No Different
Perhaps it was observing women at the university; they were cruel to each other, judging, commenting, hiding their insecurity behind a superiority complex and trendy clothing. I wanted nothing to do with it. I preferred the martial arts gym with the men where acceptance seemed easy.
Perhaps it was one of my closest female friends forgetting I existed when I was in my 20s; knowing I was staying at her house for the weekend so I could go to school, yet inviting her closest 5 female friends over to dress up and have dinner together. She was very cordial about inviting me into the group when I returned from school and they were gathered together. She even offered to share her dinner with me.
Perhaps it was being accused of disrespecting women’s relationships. Maybe it was because I portrayed myself as confident and independent and it made others uncomfortable.
I just didn’t have any awareness of how guarded I am when women get together in a group. Whatever happened in class this last week pulled the remaining trauma out of my body and my system. It’s been transformative. Emotional.
It reminded me how important it is to continue our own healing processes. How vital it is to look into the shadow side of ourselves; how our unhealed situations in our past as well as familial patterns influence our current reality.
If you are interested in exploring your unhealed moments in time, schedule a health and healing strategy session with me. I’d love to have that conversation with you.
I went to my parents’ house out in the country and took a hike into the back hills where I used to frolic as a child. Memories came flooding back as I wandered through the open, snowy woods.
I remembered the neighbor, Ms. Mueller, who I had been told was a survivor from World War II and the Nazi camps. She lived up the hill behind our house on her own, windows covered with black garbage bags. I was always told not to bother her, yet if I saw her outside of her house curiosity would win over and I’d talk to her. She was very kind, if not a little strange. My dad would tell me that was part of her PTSD, but I didn’t really know what that meant.
For the Love of A Child
In elementary school one year we made paper May Day baskets, decorated them with crayon, and filled them with candy. I decided I wanted to give a basket to her; perhaps she was lonely and need some drawings for her refrigerator. I hung it on her doorknob and knocked on her door and ran into the woods to watch, terrified and excited. Would she be angry for being disturbed? I didn’t even know which of her two doors she used. I waited for a while, then ran up again and knocked on the other door even harder, confused at the lack of response. She never answered the door, and I left a bit disappointed, but hopeful she would find it later.
Home Has Changed
The structure of the forest has changed. I searched for the tree where I used to hide out and read books in my dad’s deer stand. (Around the age of 8 I “ran away” and was determined I’d live there to show my mom how much I didn’t need her rules.) The sacred meadow where I used to sit on the rock and overlook the cow pasture is now full of bushes and trees and thorns. A temporary deer stand exists elsewhere, ladder propped against a young vital tree that can hold the weight.
Can You Go Home Again?
When I come here and go into the woods, I remember the simple innocence; the comfort of wanting to be away but knowing I had a place to return to where I was loved. I think about all those who don’t have that right now and feel trapped in houses with people who don’t love them.
The water is off. I know 20 years ago I could have walked to any neighbor’s house to refill the water jugs. I’m sure I still could, but it feels different doing it now, since I don’t know the neighbors, than it did when I could bike to the neighboring farm to ask for a cup of sugar for my mom. Why is that? Has living in the city and owning my own house and seeing the separation of the world taken away my ability to knock on someone’s door? Maybe I should tap on that.
Have Neighborly Ways Changed?
I’m not scared and I know I won’t get hurt. It’s almost as if there’s an unwritten social rule. I guess I could go knock and introduce myself. I don’t know why asking for water seems like a harder step. If I were in a foreign country, I probably would, as if being a foreigner excuses my need. But I’m home, aren’t I?
I’ve Changed More Than Home Has
As I followed the deer paths, the landscape no longer looked familiar to me. I remember coming here when I was 24. I think it’s the last time I was out here. My cat had died unexpectedly in front of me the same day I broke up with a boyfriend.
I had returned to bury my cat next to my childhood dog, and took to the woods to heal my broken heart. I sat on a fallen tree, laid down and promptly fell asleep. The sun was in a different space when I awoke, and a deer was calmly grazing nearby. She looked at me as I rolled my head to look at her more clearly, and we shared a moment together. She kept eating, and slowly ambled away. It connected me to what’s real.
What’s My Point?
It was a reminder connection and love is eternal, no matter how painful it can be. Peace can be found in gentle moments, no matter where home is or isn’t. Even in the grief of a death, even when all feels lost, there is still the part of self that grew from that connection.
That’s what I choose to take back with me to the city. Stillness. Hope. Knowledge that beauty is unfolding and will expose itself when this part of the journey is done.
What is Home for You?
If you are struggling with connection in your family relationships, whether in or out of your current home, I can help. EFT tapping is amazing at helping move through feelings of disconnection, anger, loneliness, betrayal, stress, and feelings of lack of intimacy. Reach out for a free health and healing strategy session and let’s figure out how to make you find that feeling that home is safe and calm for you.
“Are you accepting hugs?” I asked my friend, Jason, at the ski hill just before he opened his arms to welcome me into his space. I had been running into people I hadn’t seen in over nine months my first day back at the slopes, and had enjoyed the variety of connection opportunities.
After sharing a lovely hug, I turned to a nearby acquaintance of ours. He was sitting distant to everyone, drinking a beer, and before I could even open my mouth to say hello, he looked at me sternly, held up his hands, and crossed his fingers towards my face.
What the hell? I thought, immediately offended. I’m sure he heard and saw me ask for permission before entering Jason’s space. I wasn’t going to bombard him with a hug.
“Hey there,” I said to him. He’s frightened I’m sure, and probably didn’t mean ill wishes towards me. He just stared at me, nodded his head, and turned back to his beer.
The fact he wants space doesn’t bother me, I thought. It was the look combined with the gesture, as if he was warding off evil. I know in Japan it is the gesture to ask for a check, but here I take it as a rude “get away from me.”
Saying ‘Yes’ While Asking For Space
There have been various versions of this scenario throughout the pandemic; although this was the most off-putting and rude way someone has asked for space, I can’t help but remember that many of us have not learned how to say ‘yes’ to a person while maintaining distance. In other words, how to acknowledge another person’s presence while simply and honestly stating one’s boundaries.
I have seen people place hands together in a gentle ‘namaste’ as a greeting. Others simply state they are maintaining physical distance. I have seen people wave or step back with a gentle verbal reminder that they would like some space. To me, these seem like gentle ways to address the desire for connection (a yes to the person) while asking for distance.
It’s Different with Strangers–Or Can Be
With strangers I have had the experience of people shrinking away in fear if I walk too close on a hiking trail; others just step off the trail and wait for me to pass-or vice versa. I have seen people get out of line at the grocery store if someone is too close, while others wait (patiently) for an isle to be vacant before entering themselves. There is not necessarily a need to say ‘yes’ to a stranger, but one can choose the level of grace and fear that accompanies non-verbal communication.
Saying ‘Yes’ as A Skill
Saying ‘yes’ to a person and ‘no’ to touch is a communication skill that was important way before this pandemic. Have you ever had to redirect a child who wants to be held while you are occupied? Perhaps you have said something like, “Not now, honey, can you wait until after dinner?” Or, “I know you want to be on my lap right now, but I have to finish folding this laundry.”
Redirecting and saying ‘yes’ to a person goes beyond physical contact as well. Has your partner been focused on a project while you are trying to ask a question and said, “Can you wait a minute to talk about this until I’m done so I can give you my full attention?” Or, “I’ll help you as soon as I’m finished with this?”
I’m sure you’ve acknowledged someone’s presence or need for attention or an answer while also asking for a pause, for a moment or two until the timing is better.
This is saying ‘yes’ to a person and ‘no’ to the interruption. It is saying in a subtle way, “Hey, I hear you and I want to respond, but if you can wait a bit, I can engage in a manner that is more authentic, more thoughtful, more connected.”
We All Make Mistakes in Communication
Do we make mistakes consciously and subconsciously with communication verbally and non-verbally? Of course. Can each of us take offense to something that is not meant to be offensive? Absolutely. I did.
My Question For You
How can you choose to state your boundaries more clearly with those you interact with? When I teach classes about healthy touch and communication, we often discuss offering a series of options to another that suit your own boundaries. “Would you like…a high-five? Fist-bump? Handshake? Hug?”
Giving a few options within your own comfort level can be a helpful guide to the other whilst showing respect for their own boundaries. Or, clearly stating before any error is made, “I would love to give you a hug/ handshake, but I am choosing to maintain distancing at the moment. But it is lovely to see you.” Clear communication not only takes the awkwardness out of a situation, but shows a level of caring and respect.
Comfort Levels Change Around Touch
Permissions can also change day-by-day. A person who wants a hug on Monday may feel a bit sensitive on Friday, or may be starting to distance before they visit an elderly relative. It doesn’t hurt to ask. You can even make it playful! Find a few phrases that fit your boundaries and personality for the next time you run into someone you know. And remember, if someone says ‘no,’ don’t take it personally. Even if they come across rude or angry. After all, we are all doing the best we can at the moment; that too, needs to be respected.
Have you ever lost your ability to love? I have been hesitant of love a few times in my life, especially after relationships (both intimate and friendships) that ended. But I really lost it, believe it or not, after one of the most joyful and life-changing experiences I had. I came back from Europe December 28, 2019 and one of the first things I noticed when I interacted with my friends and family was the loss of the emotion of love.
My Brain Knew, My Heart Did Not
Seriously— I could not feel the love. I knew I loved them, cared for them, but it was flat. Detached. What I imagine people explain when they are on antidepressants where there are no highs and no lows. In a way it was devastating–but I couldn’t even feel devastated. Usually I would use Emotional Freedom Techniques (tapping) with myself for something like this, but I couldn’t figure it out. I hired Gabriella from Migration of Emotion, and the best way I could describe it was as if my heart was in a concrete bunker.
Part of the reason I went inside? Safety. I connect so deeply and so easily to people that I had stopped connecting because it was too painful to keep leaving.
Where Is the Connection?
The first time I was in Europe I’d be in one area three weeks then go to another area. There was always something new to see, some new excitement to be had. The second time I was there, I wrote my book, The Touch Crisis, and it was much less like that. Friends hosted me, but I also took a lot of continuing education and was in hostels or camping temporarily. The connections were not as deep and, in fact, a lot of the people I considered close friends in the U.S. were not staying in contact or returning texts. Because I was going back to places I had traveled before, there was less magic and a little less enthusiasm about where I was going. I lost, over time, my desire to be connected because subconsciously I didn’t want to feel the pain and loss of leaving people.
I do remember a couple months traveling and thinking I ‘should’ feel more excited about what I was seeing . The realization I had been to all these beautiful places and done all these amazing things and had no one who really understood, no one who really could share that experience with me, was horribly isolating.
Jung on Loneliness
Carl Jung said in Memories, Dreams, and Reflections, “Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.”
I knew I had changed, but kept questioning: what is this lesson? I was doing my work, tapping, self-exploring. Shouldn’t this be easier? I felt so lonely I couldn’t even find the motivation to do my self-work. Apathy was my main companion. I escaped through reading, sometimes drinking or eating too much, and sometimes stared at the computer. Watching movies was pointless because I would spend an hour trying to find what to watch only to turn something on and be completely dissatisfied– all because I was dissatisfied within. I felt lonely, isolated, and not understood.
With help, I came out of it; she helped me find what actually needed to be healed. She did for me what I strive to do for others, and I am extremely grateful.
Love is worth it. Connection is worth it. It’s why I’m so passionate about relationships and why it’s my life mission to help people feel wanted, connected, and powerful. Sometimes shit hits the fan and it feels it’s too hard or impossible to heal. Hell, half my work was about getting over the fear of feeling pain or heartbreak. The other portion was about observing where I was getting love, support, and understanding but wasn’t able to see it.
My Question for You
Where do you want to feel more love with yourself, others, and/ or your community? What is preventing you from having that? How will you choose to communicate the things that are important to you?
Savasana. Also known as Corpse Pose in yoga. I heard it described as ‘the art of lying still.’ Some people say it’s the most important part of a yoga practice. It used to drive me nuts.
After all, there were tasks demanding to get done. I’d lay there restless, as my mind spun; how am I supposed to be successful, build my business, stay strong, and manage my image if I’m lying on the floor?
Doing Less in Europe
I remember when I went to Europe in 2009 for 6 weeks for my honeymoon. Americans were stunned. “6 weeks!” None of the Europeans were stunned; In fact, they were fascinated by the ridiculously short 2 weeks of vacation accepted as normal in the U.S. “Why don’t Americans take breaks?”
When I went to Europe for 9 months in 2018 I finally learned to slow down—to BE. I would catch myself pushing on hikes to see how fast and how far I could go. I would stop and think: Who cares how fast you go? Who cares if your average speed is 3.4 instead of 2.9 mph on this challenging stretch of rugged terrain? No one is going to give you a medal for doing the 96-mile West Highland Way in 4 days instead of 5 or 6. Why don’t you chill out and enjoy?
Emotions Dictate Speed
I admit, some days I did want to see how fast I could go over the terrain. Or I knew I was pushing my luck to get to an area to set up camp before dark or to get back to the only bus that would take me back to the hostel for the night. Sometimes my speed was a game.
Other days I knew I was emotionally processing and would slow down and use Emotional Freedom Techniques a.k.a tapping. I would tune into the past situation, allow myself to finally feel—to become angry or sad. Or to grieve the loss of things I never had allowed myself to feel before and tap, tap, tap to get rid of it.
I knew had I changed when I returned. My ex-husband even noticed. “I can tell you are much calmer than ever before. I’ve never seen you sit this long and be relaxed about it.” He marveled that I stopped multitasking all of the time. I am focused even when I am bustling about. I achieve just as much but with less anxiety, stress, and negative self-talk. Even when things are going wrong, technology is failing, clients are cancelling, my body hurts, or I am running late, I roll with the flow.
Until the last 2 weeks.
I’ve been exhausted. I started blaming it on the planetary shifts and the moon (which does affect me BTW), but when I looked at my schedule I realized that the American drive to DO had crept back into my life– sneaking clients in on my writing days, meetings on my client days, and work on the weekends.
I talked to my friend in Norway today. “Go, go go,” she noted with a note of pity in her voice. “I guess it’s the American way, isn’t it.” I laugh now as I write this, but I was actually offended. I thought I had crushed that pattern; had risen above and learned to be present.
Others Expect Me To…
And I have learned to ‘be’ instead of ‘do.’ Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I allow the negative self-talk of others and their projection of what I should be to affect me on the inside, and I start caving in. I catch myself lacking in self-care, becoming irritable, not sleeping, overthinking every little thing, making decisions quickly, then thinking I made the wrong decision and doing it over again.
My Question for You
Where is your negative self-talk driving you to do more than you really need? Where have you learned that you are not complete as you are, and that you must do more to gain others’ approval?
What I Am Saying
I’m not saying we shouldn’t better ourselves or strive for more. Observe where your actions and goals align with your heart and passion, versus where the outside world is “demanding” something different. My hope is that my story helps you take a step back, breathe, and just lie still, feel your body, and do you.
I listened to The Bob Davis Podcasts as I drove down to Red Wing Thursday. He talked about his experience on the road as a nomad.
It reminded me of the beauty and the wonder of what it was like to backpack through Europe; how I got to learn to slow down, be present, and shift my own expectations. His discourse also brought back memories of how my friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances projected their ideas and fears onto me.
Whose Self-Talk is This, Anyway?
“Isn’t that dangerous?” “How do you live with only a backpack full of stuff?” (To be fair, I had a backpack full of stuff AND a laptop…except when I ditched it to go hiking and camping.) “What are you going to do if you can’t find a place to stay?” “Aren’t you lonely?”
Then, there were the straight-up judgments. “Must be nice to be so rich you can afford to take nine months off.” “Is this your mid-life crisis?” “What on earth would you do that for?”
This is Not My Voice Inside
Their projections gave me a clear view into their own negative self-talk and limiting beliefs.
I got a lot of suggestions; however, most were irrelevant to the experience I was seeking and the way I love to travel.
I’ve been talking in my networking group about negative self talk and how impactful it can be; sometimes we don’t even realize we are doing it. We often do not realize that what we dislike in others is something we dislike in ourselves. For example, I get irritated when I feel like people are not following through on promises. I am clear that when I don’t follow through on something I am overwhelmed with guilt and sometimes shame. The reflection of what I dislike in myself gets projected onto the other as irritability. I know what others perceived as laziness and leisure while I was in Europe was often hiding jealousy or their own internal judge telling them that one MUST do more, be busy, and stay “on track” with goals.
Giving Grace & Space
Giving myself grace and space to write whenever I wanted allowed my book to come forward. When I tried to push to make the book happen, because negative self-talk decided I HAD to get it done before my mom visited, everything halted. And the voices got louder.
I returned to the US and jumped back into American life again (albeit more grounded and calmer.) Massage Therapy offices were closed in the spring, and I started berating myself for not building my online practice while I was in Europe. “I had all that downtime and did ‘nothing’ with it.” I didn’t have the space to work with clients in a safe and private environment, but the voices told me, “You could have been educating people about Emotional Freedom Techniques. You could have been sharing your personal healing using tapping.” I had to step back. The negative self-talk wasn’t mine. It was the voice of everyone else— you need to do more, make more money, have more stuff, BE more in order to be important/ relevant.
That’s not what I believe. Who I am and what I choose in my life is enough. If others want to judge me for that, that’s their own issue; thus, they get to look within instead of projecting their self-talk. I am not going to take that on.
My Question For You
Who gets the brunt of your projections? How does it feel to you when you are upset at others’ decisions? Where does your negative self-talk impede your own peace and happiness?
EFT Tapping Can Help Self-Talk
I could share a ton of stories with you about how it helps me. But I want you to go within first. It doesn’t matter how tapping helps me. The question is, how would you like it to help you?
I started writing a post here about a month ago about my current thoughts on The Touch Crisis in our culture. It turned into three pages of stuff that I realized belonged in my relationship book.
My Next Books
Yes, you read that right. I’ve been waking up in the morning with inspirations and ideas about my next books on touch–one for relationships and one regarding physical contact and children. Also, to be thorough, I’ve been interviewing various psychologists, therapists, and families. These conversations have lead me to recall and evaluate my own experiences in personal relationships. I have been exploring what I learned around healthy contact as a child. It’s healing work I have done before, but I always find another insight or memory to explore.
Finding a Soulmate
There are a few partnerships/ marriages I have always admired. Somehow I thought I was too independent for that. Too free-spirited. Now I am immersed in two advanced Emotional Freedom Techniques certification programs. The first program is called Learning to Find Love. It is about healing old relationship patterns, beliefs, and aligning your energies to attract your soulmate. A big part of the class is realizing what you DON’T want and will not accept so you don’t waste time on relationships that don’t suit. I’ve done a lot of this work before. I could be snarky and say “it’s probably why I stay single.” But honestly, I just don’t think I was ready. Plus, there is an unresolved belief that says I cannot be free + be strong + be myself + travel if I’m in a relationship. That’s what I observe… except in those partnerships I admire that I mentioned above. Hmmm.
Intimacy and Sexuality
The second certification is called Path To Passion, in which I will help people find passion and intimacy in their lives again through emotional healing. I hear stories consistently from my female clients about how they have lost their drive. “I love my significant other, but just don’t feel like being intimate.” Libido comes from the brain, and can often be improved through emotional healing if you desire more sexual connection. Studies show Emotional Freedom Techniques (a.k.a. EFT or tapping) can drastically improve libido. But also remember, physical intimacy does not have to be sexual.
The Touch Communication Crisis
I’ve been speaking at book clubs and women’s groups. I’ve had conversations in networking organizations and with support groups. I hear women say things like, “My significant other only touches me when he wants sex.” Then I talk to men who say, “I wish I could just touch my significant other without always having to perform.” Where is the communication breakdown? Is platonic touch lacking for men, or is it taboo even in their own relationships? Do each of us make assumptions about what another person’s touch is communicating–whether male or female?
Letting Children Choose
I’ve also been big on letting my nephews choose when and if they hug me, give me a high-five, or ignore me after a day together. If they can’t say ‘no’ to a hug from me, then what boundaries do they truly have? What am I teaching them about ‘no’ in the future-for themselves and others?
I have not run out of words.
I have a ton to say on the subject of healthy touch. There is even more to share about how we can heal and really learn to connect. Even if you choose not to touch anyone at all–even a handshake–because of the current situation.
Are you ready to heal your relationship stressors?
**This is a storyline edit and repost of a past blog. I was looking for the words to help others connect with their community, have compassion, and heal from old wounds. My connection post from August of 2019 danced through my head, and felt more relevant than when it was first posted. I ask you to read this version with an open heart and mind. Learn. Think. How do you speak/ write/ make comments to others? Are “those people” doing something? Heck, I have even used that term lately.
Who are “Those People”
I’ve found myself talking about all of “those people” who are judging other people. Who aren’t seeing the big picture. Who are creating division and separation. You know-like I was at that moment.
Crap! I might be one of “those judgy people” right now
It was a good moment to check myself and my own ego. That’s a broad-based statement and judgement there, Dawn. Not only are we all doing the best we can, but our brains are wired from birth and from upbringing to find solutions to a problem in a pattern. You are doing what you can with the knowledge, beliefs, and brain you have. So is everyone else. No matter what “side” they seem to be on.
Ego and Fear
My book, The Touch Crisis, is now a bestseller. Perhaps my mind is accurate in telling me it’s not going to help enough.
Firstly, how on earth am I supposed to help us connect with each other when we cannot even use civil tones with each other on social media? Secondly, how can we use intentionally loving or compassionate physical contact to connect when we cannot even use compassionate verbal tones?Thirdly, how can we touch each other with kindness when we are triggered by the idea that someone–that stranger over there– may or may not have a mask on at the moment?
I have been observing people become angrier with each other. We are acting less patient, less kind, less considerate. Perhaps as a culture we are expressing more belligerence and more defensiveness because we tie ourselves to “a side.”
Maybe touch will help? My internal dialogue spins. When did each of us stop thinking critically? When did the slippery slope of identifying with an idea shift to our ego and our tie to our own identity? How has each of us lost touch with how our actions and words impact others–no matter what the others’ beliefs are?How has the way I define myself changed?
People cheat, people lie, people do bad things—not liberals, not conservatives, not pro-Trump, not BLM, not whites, not gays, not the immigrants, not the millennials, not the elderly. There are hate groups, of course, but individuals make these choices, the same way my individual friends make the choice to use tones of hatred. Individual People also make mistakes. Many are traumatized–even if they aren’t aware of it yet because they are in survival mode. “Those people” who are judging others for their actions or inactions are part of the problem. How do I become part of the solution? How can I even stop using the insidious yet seemingly-harmless term “those people?”
My goal of helping others connect seeming suddenly hopeless, I stepped away from my computer and wandered aimlessly around my house. Instead of the peace of the Norwegian countryside, I was confronted with rain and the piles of detritus left on the curbside by the college-student turnover in my neighborhood. I thought of my friend who made the comment, “Suddenly I’m associating the American flag on vehicles with the concept of racism, and I don’t want to feel that way. In fact, I know it isn’t that way.”
Our shadow side has emerged. On one hand it’s great, because to heal anything we must face the hard truth of what lies in the dark. Of what has been hidden. Of what needs to be healed and confronted and understood. But one cannot fight shadow with anger, with cruelty, with judgement, and with denial. My mind drifted again to an exercise at my Blandin Community Leadership training. If only people understood how much our beliefs are actually part of our brain function.
Blandin Leadership Training
“I am going to put you into groups based upon your Meyers Briggs results and have each group figure a way to solve this problem.” One of the program directors stood in the middle of the U-shaped table formation near the front of the room and watched us expectantly.
I was one of fifty rural community leaders. We were a variety of ages, backgrounds, gender, and race. Our similarity was our passion and our desire to change our community for the better, and each of us had been chosen– after a lengthy application process– to be trained and resourced to build and sustain a healthy community. We were learning not only about ourselves, but where individual and organizational blind spots may be, how we interact with others, how to see problems from a higher perspective, how to build positive social structures, and how to resolve conflict. Quite an undertaking for a five-day retreat.
This should be interesting, I thought, as the director divided us into three groups. The last few exercises taught us all a lot about individual roles and reactions, but this is the first big group problem-solving exercise. I smiled as everyone stood up and a cheerful buzz filled the room, as people grabbed their materials and re-organized themselves.
“Here’s the situation,” she interrupted the chatter as people organized into smaller circles. “You are on the board of directors of a nonprofit organization. Your bookkeeper, a volunteer who has been loyal, accurate, and timely for 15 years, suddenly starts making mistakes in the financials. The mistakes seem to be growing slowly, and one day it is brought to your attention that someone smelled alcohol on her breath while she was at the office. What do you do?”
She stepped back and smiled knowingly. “Does anyone need me to read that again?”
Huh, not quite as challenging as I anticipated, I thought as I turned back to my group with a thoughtful look on my face, I already know what my plan of action would be.
“Well, of course we need to have a conversation with her,” one member piped up right away. “We don’t know what’s going on or if it’s true she really had been drinking.”
“She is a volunteer,” another person chimed in. “But we do have a duty to our organization, especially when it comes to finances.”
“Yes, we definitely cannot sacrifice our organization if she isn’t able to continue here duties well, but if she needs a bit of time away from the job to deal with a personal issue, we could find another person to help temporarily,” the next comment came.
Yep, this is easy, I sat up straighter and looked around the rest of the conference room to see how the other two groups seemed to be getting on. Looks like there’s a lot of agreement in the other two groups as well, I noted, people are smiling and nodding and seem enthusiastic with their hand gestures—-at least the extroverts.
I giggled to myself. Blandin had broken our 16 types down into sub-types, giving us further insight to each category, and I could see those dynamics playing out in the room. Our group is much smaller than each of the other two, I noted. We only have about ten, and the other two are around twenty people each. That must make it a bit more difficult to come to a resolution.
“You have three minutes left. Please pick someone from your group to present your decision to the group,” the director interrupted loudly over the animated chatter.
We hastily picked our leader, had her verbally recap our final decision to us quickly, and turned towards the front of the room, waiting.
“Group one, please present your results.”
A prominent businesswoman stood up and projected the decision easily and clearly over the group. “As the board of directors, we have no choice but to terminate her volunteer position immediately and find a replacement. We cannot tolerate any financial impropriety in the organization, as it could cause a negative impact on our nonprofit status, our revenue, and the community trust in our organization.”
Wow, that is super harsh, I thought, stunned. No communication? No making sure that there wasn’t some other error in the system or an update that wasn’t her fault that was creating the errors? Wow. So much for years of loyalty. I know how much time that stuff can take.
“Group three, go ahead,” the leader interrupted my thoughts as I shook my head and turned my body the other direction to hear the verdict from the other side of me.
“Well,” the executive director of a nonprofit stood and faced the group. “She has had 15 years of loyal service. We thought it was in our best interest to sit down and have a conversation with her, offer her help, see if the matter was one in which she wanted to leave the position temporarily or permanently. We will give her support in finding help with her drinking if that is necessary, and do what we can to get her back on track. She is a volunteer after all, and we don’t need to jump to harsh conclusions or actions until we understand the totality of the problem.” She sat back down.
Huh, that doesn’t seem to protect the organization fast, and is completely opposite of the first group’s answer.
“Group 2?” The leader prompted.
Our spokeswoman, who worked for a large corporation, stood up and announced our decision, an exact blend of the other two. Starting with compassion and curiosity, and if the issue wasn’t fixed, to take strong disciplinary action.
Our brain wiring determines how we make these kinds of decisions. Holy crap. And my group’s brain wiring has a blend of both sides, which is why we are smaller and have a blend of both answers.
The understanding hit me as ways to increase communication and synergy to pull two conflicting sides together became clear.
Nature and nurture both influence how we see and interact with the world as individuals. The fear, drama, and propaganda in our culture now shapes the tone and grace–or lack thereof–in which individuals choose to share their opinions.
My mom told me that if I can’t say anything nice—-don’t say anything at all. I don’t believe that is true. Communication is necessary for a vibrant community. We need to be able to disagree, to have respectful conflict, to speak our minds, to share what is disturbing us, and why. However, it can be done in a curious, educational, and amicable way. Are there people spouting melodrama and hatred out there? Of course. Does that mean you need to match their tone? Absolutely not.
If something someone says triggers you and makes you extremely angry, is there a way you can pause, take a breath, and reply in a manner or tone that conveys your disagreement in a way that opens communication? What kind of attitude and tone would open you to listening to an opposing point of view? Try using that.
That’s my challenge for you this week. Whether it’s a disagreement with your child, your coworker, your friend, or on social media, take a breath. Realize that everyone has a right to their own opinion, no matter what information or lack thereof informs it. You may not be able to change someone’s mind, but you won’t for sure if you attack them. Ignore those who haven’t learned these lessons yet, except to prompt them to please use a different tone.
Does that seem too challenging? Perhaps it’s time to learn Emotional Freedom Techniques (a.ka. EFT or tapping.) It’s a powerful way to release the visceral emotional reaction to stressful situations. Check this link for class details. If you would prefer to talk about it individually, schedule a free session here.
Connection. It has so many nuances and meanings. I’ve been interviewing people about how they want to approach physical contact (touch) with others as we start connecting in person again. How they want to communicate around touch and where their wants, needs, and desires are. I feel called to connect and collaborate with three non-profits who I have personal connection with right now.
So am donating 30% of my EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques a.k.a. tapping) gross sales to these charities July and August (see the end of this blog for links and more details.) EFT not only empowers you to work with yourself on stressors and emotional challenges, but can make permanent and positive changes in your life. Click here to access a short video on the science and power of EFT. I am offering inexpensive classes online through eventbrite for those who want a sneak peek. You can also book a complimentary session online so we can chat and see if it’s a good fit for you.
Join Me on Lois’ Podcast!
I’m really excited to join Lois Koffi on a special edition of her weekly Friday Podcast. We will speak about The Healing Touch Through Difficult Times. Please join us on the 10th of July at 12.30 PM (PST) / 2:30 PM (CST) for this interview! www.loiskoffi.com/podcast (Here is the replay.)
I’ve been cherishing the people I’ve been able to stay connected to from overseas, and enjoying reconnecting with my clients, friends, and family here. But overall in these last two years, beyond playing, I’ve been learning to reconnect with myself, my deeper desires and passions that fuel me and my work. I also explored how I want to help others find connection to their own being, their own spirit and soul, and feel the deeper connections to others. I’ve been getting support through my own practitioners and loved ones. My book, The Touch Crisis, will be out in early August, and I have classes and experiences to help people find their way through their own muddy pasts and out of their ruts so they can have the experience of connecting authentically—even if they feel they are already connected.
How Lonely Are We?
A recent Cigna study (September of 2019) of over 10,000 Americans showed that 61% of Americans surveyed feel lonely. The top causes cited? Not enough social support, too few MEANINGFUL social interactions, poor mental and physical health, and not enough life balance. Heavy social media users are more likely to feel this way. That’s before the quarantine prevented connection. I want to help shift this for each of you. It’s my passion, my desire, and what I feel I am called to do at this point in my life.
Beyond joining others on their podcasts to teach this great concept, I am offering online one-hour classes on creating connection via communication around physical contact into your life. Not only do you get to learn what you want, but what you don’t. How can you gently tell someone to stay six feet away and remain connected? Do you know how you can ask for a hug that you desperately need– even when you are not sure how the other person is reacting to touch? How do you navigate the tricky terrain of handshakes, elbow bumps, or physical distancing for yourself and others you are meeting? Check out some of the Touch Conversations on the Touch Remedies YouTube Channel, and if you are so inspired-please subscribe!
As always, please let me know how I can support you. I’m willing to work around barriers-including financial, time, and location. Now that I’ve gone through the wringer and come out the other side embodying all the love and joy I thought I had lost, I’m fully present and here for you all.
Pause 4 Paws was established in 2011 with a mission of working to ensure that dogs and cats are treated with dignity and respect. Through 2019, Pause 4 Paws directly supported numerous animal rescues and sanctuaries in Minnesota as well as the rescue community in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Most animal rescues are small, volunteer-based community organizations that do not have staff available to spend time fundraising. P4P worked on behalf of these organizations and has distributed over $500,000 to these beneficiaries since our inception. In doing so, the rescues we supported have saved over 46,000 dogs and cats and spayed or neutered nearly 31,500 animals since 2011. 100% OF THE FUNDS WE DISTRIBUTE THROUGH PAUSE 4 PAWS GO DIRECTLY TO THE SUPPORT AND CARE OF THE ANIMALS.
The Spread Sunshine Gang is a non-profit with the mission to share goodness, kindness and generosity to the Twin Cities metro area and beyond. We do this by providing outlets for people to creatively give. Everyone needs more sunshine!
Inspire and Flourish…..It is something we can all do. It is something we can help others do. It is something we should do. There are so many ways we can make a difference in each other’s lives. We can lend a helping hand, donate something ~ whether it be goods/supplies or our time. Watching someone else’s life change just because you decided to help ~ is a wonderful thing.
All of our auxillary events are put on and run by volunteers. Monies raised from the “Mobile Memories Photo Booths” helps to support these fundraising projects.