Finding Equanimity in Difficult Times

Lately I’ve been struggling to embody equanimity, which is defined as: mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.  There is so much pain and suffering and uncertainty- in my family, in our communities, and in the world.  

I’ve questioned whether it’s ok to experience joy while all this suffering is going on; I’ve also wanted to pursue joy with wild abandon and completely dismiss the suffering of others.  I’ve wanted to control everyone and everything, or totally shut down.  None of these feels like the right solution, and I become more unstable when I flip flop from one extreme to another.

Maybe you can relate to this, the flip flopping to extremes, the confusion about how to care for yourself while caring for others.  Many of us…

Claiming Voice With A Talking Stick

I was stuck in an emotional funk and I couldn’t get out of it.  My son and I had just had a heated conflict while playing ping pong.  A fight during play!  My husband stepped in to facilitate a calmer conversation. It helped both of them move on, but not me.    

They begged me to come play with them again.  Play?  No way.  Sitting at the kitchen table, every part of me felt heavy.  I was mad at them for moving on, and upset with myself for not moving on, potentially ruining our entire night.

The longer I sat though, I began to see the faint outlines of my old wounds creating this cascade of emotion.  The faint outlines got filled in with memories, and I started to soften inside, relieved to discover the deeper source of my upset.  I realized that my husband’s attempts to heal our conflict were well intended but superficial. I couldn’t move on until there was enough safety in my family to share my vulnerability and receive theirs.

The light bulb went on: The Talking Stick! 

Re-Claiming Our Health with Rainbow Eating

The health of our gut and the balance of our gut microbiome is critical to our overall health and wellness.  In the world of holistic health, the gut is seen as the root cause of many physical and emotional imbalances.

Rainbow Eating, which means having all the colors of the rainbow on our plate, is one way to improve the health of our gut and our ability to be nourished by the food we eat.  Like all holistic practices, it does so on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels.  

The Women are Gathering: Balancing Divine Feminine and Masculine Post-Election

Today the same conflict my husband and I have been cycling through on and off for our entire relationship came to another head. “This is it,” I said. “I won’t stand for it.”  I’ve said these words before, but something felt different.

It seems I’ve gone to the next level of speaking up and drawing my line in the sand about how I want to be treated and spoken to.  This reminds me of the spiral of healing.  I’ve been here before so many times, and yet I have come around again to learn and master the next part of the lesson. This time around, my husband is acknowledging the shift. He says to me, “I’m acting the same, but you have less tolerance for it.”

Claiming Voice Through Fear

It’s taking a village to heal my puppy from a traumatic start in life that’s led to chronic physical and emotional issues.  Pursuing healing for him has been one of my most intense life challenges thus far.  My patience and trust in the bigger picture has been repeatedly tested and at times has resulted in mental and physical depletion as well as financial risk.  

But as someone who’s completely driven by a desire to learn about healing, I am not surprised that Moose and I have found each other.  I’ve been learning so much about the healing process through this relationship.  

Here’s some of what I’ve figured out so far:

Claiming Voice and Anger

One of the most confusing areas in Claiming Voice is how to effectively process and express anger. Anger is such a powerful emotion, and most of us have been exposed to polar extremes of scary, destructive anger, or passive, suppressed anger.

There is very little space in this culture for learning how to deal with it well. I wish every school had conflict resolution as a core part of the curriculum.

The simple story of my history is….

Claiming Voice and Parenting

My son teaches me every day about claiming voice. When I can't claim my voice in a healthy way, I don't allow him to have his. I would rather work things out with him in such a way where neither one of us has to feel powerless. I still have to set healthy boundaries and limits, but I strive to do so in a way that fosters connection rather than resentment.

I fail over and over again, and I also succeed. Having my intention clear helps me stay the course and apologize when I fall short. Sometimes my son and I find our voices when we debrief about a conflict or power struggle gone awry.

Claiming Voice Through Ritual

A few minutes before my client arrived I was changing the flowers in my office vase.  As I took the dying flowers out, I was feeling unsettled about throwing them away since there were still some robust flowers atop the dying stems.

It occurred to me that these flowers were a metaphor to my client’s experience.  He was in the process of uncoupling a long term partnership.  Parts of his relationship were dying, yet there were many beautiful elements of their relationship that would remain intact.

I became inspired to use the flowers in his session.

An Angel in San Francisco

We went into a store in Chinatown and my son Nathaniel’s whole being lit up.  Knowing that we each get something special when we travel, he knew right away what he wanted.  He walked over to the mask section and began to try them on.  The one he picked looks like something out of the Mad Max movie.  (I’ve never seen it but that’s been a consistent reaction.)

The mask is creepy, pretty scary, super intense - and he proceeded to walk through San Francisco for the rest of the day with it on his face.

I stayed quiet but I was extremely uncomfortable.  

Claiming Voice Through Dance

There are a million ways to claim voice, we all have our own path.  For me, dance has been instrumental in helping me find and use my voice in an empowered way.  I was introduced to Group Motion, a weekly contact improv dance workshop, in my mid 20's.  During this time I was also learning Transcendental Meditation and studying how womens' cycles are connected to the cycles of the Moon.  All of these things showed me how to tap into the wisdom of my own body which in turn enabled me to hear the clear, authentic voice within.  

This blog post was originally a journal entry while on a Group Motion Retreat in 2000.  It illuminates how I was reflecting on all of the above, as well as my path and my purpose.  

Emotional Hokey Pokey

Moose.  My love.  My Regal Beagle.  A couple months ago I sat on my floor crying, thinking about how it might be time to give him away.  My vet had just told me that he was showing early signs of disk disease.  I went into despair, a place I’ve visited many times before about Moose but hadn’t been to in a while.

For a moment all I could think about were the things I haven’t been able to do because of the time and money I’ve already spent on his healing, and the pain and suffering that was to come as his back worsens.

Claiming Voice Through Self-Awareness

Over the past few months, my son has been complaining about being bored at school but more recently his inner light really began to dull.  I reached out to his teachers who offered two things: first, they gave him "break cards" which he can use 3 times a day.  This means that he can put the card on his desk whenever he feels like it and take a walk around the school.  Second, they asked him to fill out a sheet 3 times a day where he checks in with himself and writes down a fuller picture of what he's experiencing when he's feeling "bored".  They want to understand what bored means to him, and they are asking my son to take an active part in problem solving with them.  Both amazing ideas.

Last night he told my husband and I that he only did this sheet once, and he doesn't believe it will be helpful.  We told him that we fully support this plan and why. 

Healing Through Apologizing

There are few things as important in relationship as apologizing and forgiveness. In the past few months, I've been growing in the area of apologizing. After some painful conflicts in my life, I've looked in the mirror and acknowledged the part of me that says, "I'm sorry, but...."

I've opened my ears and heard others' feedback that this kind of apology doesn't really repair the rupture (even when the "I'm sorry" part is deeply genuine and heartfelt!). I've thanked this part for trying to protect me, and communicated that it's time for a change.

Claiming Voice Through Intuition

I sat on the chair next to my husband who was gazing at me with concerned eyes.  The music blared through the open doorway - powerful, energizing, transcendant music.  Every so often I looked left through the doorway and saw the dancers spinning, their faces and bodies radiating the joy of their souls.

I longed to be with them but I was in pain.  It was my lower abdomen - again.  Full of gas and cramps, preventing me from doing what I love most.  I had been working so hard to heal and I was still struggling.  It was a low moment for me.