Tag Archives: self care

The “Contraction” and “Expansion” of Evolution

When it comes to soul health, it is necessary for us to experience times in our lives when we both contract and expand. What does this mean? Essentially, it means that there are times when pulling back to evaluate, rest, or recharge are more important to our evolution than the times when we perceive ourselves to be growing and expanding. The truth is, both contraction and expansion are necessary processes in our evolution. While we might avoid or resist either process, it is important to embrace the ebb and flow as a necessary part of our growth.

As many of you know, 2015 was a particularly challenging Sick Tree aka SoulAyear for me. The long-term illnesses and loss of both my mother and a 16 year-old dog, multiple unexpected car and home expenses, a very busy work/travel schedule, stressful family dynamics, and health concerns of my own left my own “tree” feeling rather wilty. Although I take pride in self-care, regardless of what I did, I just couldn’t muster my typical amount of energy to do much more than see clients, go home, and sit on the couch with my pups. I was spent.

I “measure” my energy in percentages, and early this year, I estimated that I was functioning at less than 25% of my typical energy level. My tank was pretty much empty. In order to “fill up”, I set upon practicing what I preach about Soul Health by cutting back most activity, canceling classes and workshops, minimizing any extra commotion, and basically pulling back on anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary to get by. Anyone who knows me also knows that I don’t like to slow down. However, I had no choice but to “contract” in order to assure a future “expansion”.

fall-newsletterBeing a travel junkie, I scheduled a long weekend at the beach, took another extended weekend away at a retreat center, and planned a trip to several national parks in July with my best friend, knowing that visiting majestic sights is one of my most effective medicines. Sure enough, by August I was feeling much more like myself. Another important healing “salve” for me is to learn something new. So, throughout the summer,
I also underwent some further training that will enable me to provide many more healing and educational opportunities for others. I just returned from another soul-nourishing workshop that left me feeling much more integrated, excited to launch some new services, and much, MUCH clearer about what I will be doing in the near future.

The moral of the story? My forced “contraction” was exactly what I needed for my evolution. If my energy hadn’t been so low, and had I not heeded my typical words of healing wisdom, not only would I not have acquired my newfound clarity, but I also wouldn’t have the energy it will take in order to implement the plan that has formed over the last year. Contracting from the world helped me heal and restore so that I could expand and grow.

Although I don’t like to think about cutting a tree to look at it’s rings for signs of growth, they do clearly show that contraction and expansion are necessary parts of life. The thinnest rings indicate times of slower growth and stagnation, while the wider rings illustrate what happens when it is time to thrive and develop. Like my own reduction in activity, trees need these times of seeming stagnation in order to store up energy for the next seasonal expansion.

Fall is a natural time of contraction, one when many people pull back from typical activity to reflect and recharge for new growth in the spring. The season provides the opportunity to re-evaluate where your growth has taken you and also where you want to be in another year. Make use of this beautiful and symbolic season so that you, too, can embrace the ebb and flow of your evolution.

Becoming Brilliant by Doing Nothing

“Men are like the stars; some generate their own light while others reflect the brilliance they receive.”   ~  Jose Marti

I woke up last Sunday thinking about how I wanted to spend my day. It had snowed and part of me wanted to kick back, read, relax with the pups, and just do whatever I wanted to do. The other part of me– the busy woman who does too much for her own good part– was mentally scanning through the list of things that I “should” do to check them off the list for an easier start to the week. Regardless of what I did the rest of the day, I decided to have a leisurely breakfast by making my favorite pumpkin pancakes with toasted pecans and warm maple syrup.

Just as I sat down in my sunroom to enjoy my breakfast, I received a text from a close friend in a nearby city. She wanted to tell me what my horoscope said since she thought it was funny. Little did she know that the words she shared would set the course for my day.

I’m a big believer in creating time for yourself to recharge and recover, but I struggle like the next woman to stop everything and simply “be”. In this case, the decision to sit around and do little to nothing, was, in contrast exactly what I needed to be doing to reach my next level of “brilliance”.

Take a look at the vlog I taped that morning to hear what my horoscope said and see how it helps you to become more brilliant as well!

Secure your soul health with a little bit of nothing today!

From Zen to Zany: Learning to Feed Your Soul for Optimal Health in 2016

000 Soul Health ModelI’ve been doing holistic psychotherapy, wellness education, and health promotion for over 25 years. The biggest challenge I hear when working with others is that very few people know 1) how to really feed their soul and nourish themselves at a deep level, 2) what to do to relax and fully restore themselves, and 3) what activities cause them to laugh enough to really have fun. Work and no play is always a formula for feeling unwell, whether emotional, physical, or other branches of health are affected, but now is the time to learn how to truly nourish oneself at the deepest level—the soul level. This knowledge will help you both to withstand whatever storms life brings your way, but also allow yourself and your soul to evolve in such a way that there is no going back.

Ask yourself:  What do I do to relax? ZenWhat specific activities take away the stressors of the day? Are these healthy behaviors—or vices that only temporarily distract you from the source of discomfort?

Although some may know what it takes for them to really unwind, few actually take the time to engage in these activities due to perceived time constraints, guilt, and the tendency to care for others before one cares for themselves. Learning to soothe your soul with restorative activities ensures not only a less stressful life, but also more optimal and radiant health.

DSC_0059AFor instance, simply pausing to take some slow, deep breaths can immediately decrease your heart rate, blood pressure, and overall sense of stress. Practicing meditation, journal-writing, and gentle movement such as yoga, tai chi, and mindful walks around the block can clear the mind, increase optimism, and improve your immune system. Doing creative activities such as painting, drawing, gardening, and decorating provide a mini “mental-vacation” so that you can become more peaceful and centered. Any “zen-like” activity will help you to feel more balanced, but finding the right one for you makes all the difference in guaranteeing your optimal soul health.

On the other hand, it’s also essential to learn how to have fun—and more importantly, Zanyhow to give yourself permission to do so! Countless times, I’ve heard that people feel guilty for taking time to play and laugh, noting that there’s too much to do to allow oneself to let loose and enjoy some good-hearted fun. Many also say that they don’t know how to allow fun and leisure into their busy day or week, neglecting to prioritize playful activities in lieu of the long list of responsibilities. However, there is clear evidence that fun, laughter, play, and all jovial goings-on have an undeniable, positive impact on radiant health.

rollercoasterFor instance, when was the last time you did something that was out of the ordinary? What was it that made you laugh to the point of tears in the last few months—year—or longer? Are you afraid of how you will appear if you do something that is fun to you?

Now, remember how you felt after you took time to relax and restore—and how much more energetic and light-hearted you felt after a good laugh. Reminding yourself of the results of allowing yourself to be both “zen” and “zany” will instill a restorative nature to your approach to the year—one that is crucial in paving your path to optimal living.

Take the time now to jot down a few things related to fun and leisure that you would like to incorporate into your life. Then, pull out your calendar to identify times in which you can most effectively integrate these activities into day-to-day living. By learning to feed your soul, you will undoubtedly enhance your overall sense of well-being, as well as improve your soul health.

Join me in this year, From Zen to Zany, and create your deepest sense of radiant health yet!