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Remembering

This letter to you includes a special class announcement that will be 100% donation based for the organization of Hospice. And you are welcome to right away scroll down to the bottom to learn of the class details. But I decided it is vital to me to share the heart root of this offering. If you wish to journey with me on how it came to be, please read from beginning to end. I am ever so grateful for our walk together.
This year, I made a new acquaintance. And I visited with her again this week. She came to me in April with the sudden passing of my nephew. I chose to approach her today with the writing of two notes of compassion for dear neighbors’ losses.

My new acquaintance is Death. She had visited me previously with the passing of all four of my grandparents, great aunts and uncles, and a dear friend’s younger brother when I was in high school, but I was not ready to open the door to her yet. No doubt she knocked at that time – curious as to my doings and eager to sit with me for a spell. But I locked my door tightly. I bolted it. I shut her out with all of my might.

And she gracefully walked away. She knew I wasn’t ready for her yet.

And now – now I am ready for her. I have experienced how she has the power to crack me open raw to the world around me. And I have experienced how she has the power to solder my cracks with golden salve of love. I have experienced how she waltzes with me when I receive her. I have experienced how she will stand solid and steady and refusing of a fight when I take a rigid battle stance against her. She will let me be hard and sticky and rough as long as I need to be. She will not back down but she will not come after me either.

She waits. Patiently. Lovingly. Knowing that in the end I cannot turn away from her whether it be by choice or by circumstance.

The dance of Grief with Gratitude is dynamic. She is one in the same as she constantly shape shifts and reveals more of her richness. Her teachings are unlimited.

We each dance our waltz between Grief and Gratitude in our own unique way. Yet in our aloneness of the dance comes a togetherness that is like no other. It is the togetherness of mourning for what has passed. It is the togetherness that can begin to allow for what is future. It is the togetherness that can honor the past in remembrance and the future for possibility. It is the togetherness that gives us the courage to imagine – and to experience over and over – that although the recipe of our world is forever different now, it is no less magical in its potential.

The holidays can bring a unique period of celebration juxtaposed with lost idealism of childhood. We tend to grieve either a little – or a lot – deeper during this time of lights and sparkle. We tend to shove down the visit of Grief and to think we are wrong to step into it. We think that it will ruin the season.

Perhaps we think that we will ruin the season.

But She doesn’t go away. Grief sits in camouflage patiently waiting for our gentle attention. She tucks into corners and cozies into the quiet between the holiday loud. She whispers to us. And in our resistance of her, the whispers can turn into screams.

Yet, what if stepping into the grief when we feel safe to do so could also allow us access to bone warming gratitude? What if the two sit by the fire together when we do not lock either out?

“It’s horrible having to tell people… and it is so much better when they know.”

My incredible 16 year old niece said these words in the April weeks after my nephew – her brother – took his own life. This year has involved great sorrow, great learning, and great wonderment for me. This year has rocked my foundation. And this year has begun to build it anew.

A Class & Gathering in benefit of Hospice
Remembering: From Grief to Gratitude

This 90 minute therapeutic yoga practice will include my signature small movement explorations with a focus on the very individual dance of Grief with Gratitude. The practice of expansion and contraction will be appropriate for all levels and can be explored using a chair if supportive. Included in the practice will be an extended savasana (reclining rest) or seated meditation. Following a short break after the class, the entire group will have a chance to gather over some homemade nourishment to share a story of their loved one or of days gone by. We shall honor our stories – and our loved ones’ shining existence – in our togetherness.

Donation details:
The suggested donation range (cash or check only) of this 3 hour exploration including 90 minute class, 15 minute break, and 75 minutes of together time is $30 – $50. Again, 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the local hospice organization (Transitions LifeCare hospice of Raleigh and Rockbridge Area Hospice in Lexington). If you wish to donate to either organization as part of our collection but cannot attend the class, please email me at Rachel@PureResilienceYoga.com.

Remembering Class & Gathering #1
Location: Long Life Wellness Center in Cary, NC
Date & time: Saturday, December 15th, 4:00-7:00pm
Signup by emailing Rachel@PureResilienceYoga.com to reserve your spot. Space is very limited for this special event and registration will be in order of requests received.

Remembering Class & Gathering #2
Location: Center of Gravity in Lexington, VA
Date & time: Saturday, December 22nd, 1:30-4:30pm
Signup coming soon on the Center of Gravity website at https://www.lexingtoncenterofgravity.com/ . Please email me at Rachel@PureResilienceYoga.com if you’d like to be first to know once it is up.

I am ever so grateful to the hosting studios of Long Life Wellness Center and Yoga Mojo in Cary and Center of Gravity in Lexington for graciously donating their space as well.
When we share in the hard, healing is possible.

May we find the courage to together explore the stumbling, gliding, ever dynamic dance of Grief and Gratitude. And may we be in wonder of what could emerge.

With love on this Thanksgiving Eve,
Rachel

Joining

Nora runs up to me and says, “It’s dark, it’s dark!”

“Where is it dark?” I ask her.

“It’s dark everywhere! And especially in the stairwell. It’s so dark.”

“Well, what can you do?” I ask.

“I can use my flashlight.”

She tiptoes off in adventure across the kitchen to the dark, cavernous, abyss of our eight stairs to shine her way to the far off land of her upstairs bedroom.

I smile at her inner explorer.

Nora has eyes like brown glass marbles, eyelashes that sweep across her face, and a body of solidity. My niece and nephew used to watch a Japanese anime show that involved people in tribes that had magical powers over the elements. My niece has confirmed that Nora is no doubt an earth bender. Her firm steps and ability to ravage any electronic equipment that she touches including cd players, dvd players and ipads is unmatched. Her power is beyond compare in our house.

Are the broken electronics annoying? Heck, yes. But I marvel at her firm ability to Exist. Nora walks our floors with an acceptance of her existence that is different than in my other two kiddos. She is still only 3 ½ so her perception of the world’s judgments haven’t moved in yet, but the clarity in which she steps is inspiring. She seems to say, “I know my way and no person or thing shall stop my march.”

Later today I am unloading the dishwasher while my older two kids horse trade Halloween candy. Nora steps into my path as I stand with glass in one hand and plate in the other.

“Mama, why can I wink with this eye? (Insert left eye wink.) But I can’t wink the other one. See?”

She winces and contorts and squints but can’t quite get the right eye to close on its own.

Her face holds pure curiosity and wonderment. She looks at me for the answer. For which of course I have no answer so I just stand there smiling at her puppy like adorableness. My mother eyes are glazed in unconditional love.

She is the painted sunset to my watching earth.

A few more acrobatics of the right eye and she says, “Mama, can you help me wink it?”

My heart flits in an underwater somersault and my belly opens into a release of butterflies. Joy for this small request. Pure light and gentle amusement.

My eyes see her. They see all of this unstoppable soul inside of this powerful earth bending body.

“Yes, Nora.” I set down my To Do and cover the few steps between me and her. She has invited me To Be. And I accept. I softly place my fingers upon her right eye. I gently close it while she keeps her left eye on me.

I marvel for a moment at her ability to ask for support. Not to fight the presence of another but to invite me in.

This is a wisdom so often buried away as we get older. Nora exudes the open truth of “Please help me do what I cannot do myself right now. Because I’d like to experience this and I don’t know how.” Softness in her request. Openness for me to meet her. Such a small interchange and yet such light for us both.

I finish with my assist and she grins. Ear to ear (and I think all the way to the back of her skull) she grins with accomplishment. Her wink is no less accomplished in asking for and welcoming my support. Perhaps her wink is even more because we have shared it together.

She has accomplished and she feels that. She has asked for support and received it and she feels that. She feels so much more beyond my imagining.

I have witnessed her and I feel that. I have answered her request for support and I feel that. I feel so much more beyond my awareness.

This simple moment is not first steps. It is not the first day of school. It is not a graduation. It is not a new job. It is not a marriage. But in this single moment of Nora’s assisted wink is our entire shared universe. She opens. I receive.

And she giggles. And I giggle. We join together across a bridge of laughter.

In the midst of the noise, there is always quiet. Oh, how the little magic feels big. Ever so big.

Be well,
Rachel

Little Let Go’s

“Mama, can I have this money?” 8 year old John asked me this morning. He was wandering the house gathering loose change for a donation to his school’s book fair. The PTA gathers loose change and creates a fund for kiddos who would not otherwise be able to buy books.

John’s question was asked with a smirk as he passed by my nephew Thomas’ candle. He knew that I’d stepped on that nickel under the table a few months back in one of my waves of deep sadness for Thomas’ death. He knew that one of a thousand little magic moments had found me that day as I picked up the rogue coin and the smirk of another Thomas – Thomas Jefferson – stared back at me. For that Now, my rigidity of mourning melted into tendrils of softness.

John knew all of this. And he knew that I’d had that coin sitting with the candle reminding me of all the little magic that seeps in in a big way when we are listening. Feeling. Being.

“Uh, what? No.” I reacted without pause to his question and he continued walking across the kitchen.

But I was caught. Frozen for a moment in a ripple that had a different momentum to the wave. I heard a quiet voice from far back within me whisper, “Let it go.”

“Hold on, kiddo. You can have it. For sure.”

He turned around with utter surprise on his face. And, to be honest, a bit of terror.

“No mama, no. You should keep that.” His eyes began to fill with pools of love and so much more. More that was beyond my assumptions; more that was beyond his understanding. A rainbow of emotion shone in the prism of tears that veiled his eyes.

“John, that coin is just a reminder to me of the essence of Thomas in his life and now beyond in my heart. It isn’t the connection itself. The coin is just a thing. The connection remains regardless.”

My 8 year old softly padded back across the floor. His slanted blue eyes searched mine for assurance. I gently smiled at him and pulled him close.

“This nickel was meant for me to find that day, John. And now, it is meant to move on. And Thomas – with his deep love of books and reading – would want it to go no where more than to kiddos who will now have pages to turn.”

When we practice the little let go’s, they patiently add up to surrender. One little let go at a time, we dance between grief and remembering. One little let go at a time, we discover so much more beyond what we see.

Oh, and that quarter you see in the picture above? Well, 5 year old Ruthie wordlessly watched this scene unfold as she ate her cereal. As soon as John walked off, she ejected from her seat, smiled knowingly at me, raced upstairs like a jack rabbit on espresso, and returned beaming from ear to ear. Sitting back in her chair ramrod straight with smirk on her face and assurance in her bones, she moved swiftly:

!!PLOP!!

went the quarter down on the table. She looked up at me with sparkling eyes and still wordless mouth.

“There.” she said from within her silence.

Easy as that.When the time is right, let it go. Continue the dance with the partner of patience. And see what grows from new space.

In my new space, I got an expanding heart of a son, a softening heart of my own, and a giggling heart of my daughter’s.

Little magic feels big. Little let go’s add up.

Be well,
Rachel

No One Way

My husband and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary on September 30th. We’ve been together for the past 15 years. We’ve welcomed three new humans into the world. We’ve said goodbye to at least five people that we loved dearly as they passed from this realm into the mist of what follows.

We’ve grown together. Evolved together. We’ve come out of hiding together to be more Us. Both in our individual selves and our togetherness.

This man is ever thinking and ever refining. He is a lover of systems and problem solving. He swims in the corporate world day to day. And yet he touches that potentially dry space with vivid color and connection to something More.

On this day, I’d love to share with you a piece that Greg wrote a couple of months ago. I share this as a glimpse into simple compassion and kindness in a time that can feel chaotic and swirly. When we each do what we can to soften this place we call Home, we do in fact make a profound impact. I am grateful to soften in with this kind, gentle and inquisitive soul.
—–

Most weeks, Rachel will ask me “Did you read my blog post?” In my head, I generally reply “I live your blog posts!” To prove this, here is my attempt to write something worthy of being a guest blog post.

My alarm is set for 5:00 AM, but yesterday morning, I woke up at 4:35 AM without the alarm and I was awake. When I say “I was awake,” I really mean that my first impulse was not to put the pillow over my head. In truth, it’s been rather hard for me to get up consistently at 5:00 AM to: feed the cats, run 1 mile, do very un-fancy yoga, and meditate for at least 5 minutes since early April.

Okay, running hasn’t been consistent since December.

However, yesterday was different. I was out of bed, cats fed, and opened the door to the screened-in porch, and that is when I heard a sound that stopped me.

I couldn’t distinguish the sound, just that it sounded like a human in pain. Against the early morning dark, among the rustling of green leaves, and very little else, there was this sound, bouncing and echoing around the neighborhood. I couldn’t figure out what direction it was coming from. I shrugged, went out the door, down the stairs, through the chain-link fence gate that sounds as loud as a car crash at that time of morning, then up the driveway to start my “run.”

Within a few steps, I had forgotten about the sound. A half mile later, I turned the corner, and headed down the hill, back toward my house. When I reached the point of my track that is roughly parallel to my house, a mourning dove started talking right above me and wanted me to listen. I stopped. That’s when I heard the sound again. This time I was sure it was behind me.

I walked slowly back up the street, listening, looking. There it was again. Passing one house, then coming to the next with lights on inside, front door open. Very uncommon in my neighborhood before 7:00 AM. I stopped and listened. There it was again. I shone my flashlight toward the house. The next time I heard the sound it was unmistakable.

“Help!”

There, fully hidden and laying between his house and tall bushes, at the top of a hill, set 40 feet back from the road, I found my 90 year old neighbor that I had never met before. It’s a little unclear how long he had been lying there, crying for help, but my best guess is at least 12 hours. He said he was pulling vines along the base of the house when he fell.

Right or wrong, my first instinct was to get this man out off the ground and out of the bushes.

A few minutes later, we were sitting together on his front steps. He drank several cups of water and his hands were starting to shake less. We sat there in silence, we sat and we talked, we sat there in silence. As the sun slowly climbed, the dark gave way to that strange blue before real
light shows you truth. The same light in which the box turtle you thought was in the yard was really just a leaf.

That was also when I noticed the noise of the day growing. Cars were on the roads, birds were singing, the neighborhood was waking up. I realized then how hard it would have been to hear this man’s cry for help after 6:00 AM.

Wait, there is more.

This morning, I got back from my “run” and I had the idea in my head to write this story about the morning quiet, but the irony was that I was so far in my head that I wasn’t hearing the quiet anymore. Once again a strange sound, this time very different, followed by the mourning dove.

So I took the hint. I sat down, closed my eyes and listened to the quiet, breath in through the left nostril, out through the right, in through the right, out through the left. I lost track of time.

At some point, something inside me asked, “How long have I been sitting here? Should I stop now and go do the rest of my chores?” That’s when I was bathed in a bright light. The motion detector on the back of my neighbor’s house had turned on, the dog was on his way out to do his business, the neighborhood was waking up.

Have a morning, as often as possible.

————-

May we find connection with one another through our sacred experiences in the quiet. May we learn how to hold space for each other beyond the fillers of busy and words and into the blue dawn of feeling. May we lean into the love and shared frequency of a spouse, a pet, a sibling, a parent, a dear friend, the mailman, and all others whom cross our paths.

May we share kindness and quiet as we explore in this Life.

Be well,
Rachel

Opposites

It’s hard for me to right in this moment – as evidenced in that “right” versus “write” as I kicked off. I’ll tell you a bit about why since I apparently can’t focus on anything more grand or insightful right now.

It isn’t my typical emotional and mental overrun that has me grounding back in my body as I type. I don’t need to remember my physical body right now because it is in full spotlight. My body isn’t typically very pushy. But when it is, it’s like the bouncer telling my brain and heart, “Back of the line, toots. The front is taken.”

The skin covering my rib cage is ON FIRE. I’ve suffered my share of pain in three unmedicated childbirths, two broken feet and 20 years of migraines, but – as most of us do – I tend to forget the strength of intense sensation.

Many of my clients lived in the unignorable every day until they found a New Way of meeting their pain. And there are innumerable New Ways. The one that I’m most versed in is learning to feel yourself instead of run away from yourself.

I’ll affectionately dub this Armor Up or Open Up.

We’ll use me as an example right now. The primary sensations – the LOUDEST you might say – are the burning, itching, and tingling. Holy cow they are strong. But if I quiet, there are more. What else is in here?

Close my eyes. Pause. Feel. (I’ll even write with my eyes closed for this next part so I can stay primarily in feeling.)

Loudest is the itch at the sternum. It feels like it offers no relief but wait… the strongest itch travels from the right side of my sternum into the depth of my tissue where I feel it exiting through my back just behind my shoulder blade. Woah. Now a tingling of electricity in my shoulder as I’m with that feeling for a breath or two.

But the left side of my sternum. It is quieter. There is less itch over there. And what I do feel on that side is actually moving forward and out of the front of my chest wall into space. How fascinating.

What else is in here?

Next loudest is the itch in my upper chest. Again, more intense right of center than left. Some sharpness left of center.

Can I feel where the itch in the right upper chest stops and no sensation begins if I go outward? hmm. That’s tricky. But I can feel that in my armpit itself I do not itch. The soft flesh just in front of the armpit shivers with sensation. It’s got some stuff going on too. Again, stronger on the right than on the left.

But all so subtle. No way I would know without typing with my eyes closed right now.

Moving onward to peer through another thicket, I find…

My left armpit and the soft flesh in front of it are quiet. That arm can even be heavy as I allow it. The right arm still on alerted stiffness and shoulder in military “Atten-TION!” with it’s irritation.

Then there is the lack of breath. I am bracing against the itch. It’s been a shallow and tight breath thus far.

My jaw was locked on until this pause too. As I find it, it releases on it’s own and I feel that my facial muscles were all in contraction.

That natural release of my facial muscles and jaw gets me to wondering… What feels the opposite of this intense discomfort? Well, my legs are at ease. Not a bit of itch. Throbbing of blood in a rhythmic way. My nose is quite cool. Not a hint of the heat southward in my rib cage.

As I make this connection of opposites and discover coolness in this same house of a body where the fire rages, I find an involuntary sigh.

And now, now I can feel the tightness in my sternum. Like it is glued together. I begin to massage the soft tissue between my ribs. Tough. Dense.

Constriction.

My shoulder releases. My neck softens. A lack of sensation now. The itch and heat subside multiple stair steps.

Holy cow, the right side of my neck is tight. Now I can feel that. When I began this exploration, my neck was buried deep under my level of awareness. I had to follow the winding path to find it nestled below.

Short story, I am in a break-out of hives.

I could leave it at that and go to a doctor for a cortisone shot. I may still do that at some point. That is an option to get me through this.

But there is so much to learn here. There is so much to feel and discover in the hills, valleys and rivers of my awaiting body. And I still have to be in the discomfort while it runs its course. It is intense. It could be overwhelming. And I can bring my own tools into the mix – my honed toolkit of feeling and breath and movement and more feeling – to open up to them. To release the armor that my brain wants to clamp down in defense of the discomfort but, unwittingly, actually clamps down AROUND the discomfort.

My sweet brain unintentionally had locked me INTO the hot, itchy, and burning.

The itch just has something to tell me. Shivers run through my chest and arms as I write that. I don’t know what talk my body is trying to have with me right now but I do know one thing.

It’s pretty pissed at me. 🙂

As I write those words, I giggle and my whole chest softens. As does the discomfort. Yet again.

I feel my chest release just a hair in the tension and bracing.

Expansion. Over and over again as I’ve been feeling and sharing with you all, expansion.

A million ways to soften inside of the pain, the discomfort, the reeling thoughts and emotions. But in order to do so, you have to choose a road less traveled.

Armor up or open up. If we armor up, we insulate from the world but we also isolate from the world. If we open up, we flood outward. All of our Being floods outward into the Space that awaits.

huh. To return to how I started, “It’s hard for me to right in this moment.” Well yes, it is because there isn’t a “right” in this moment. There is infinite sensation and unlimited ways to explore it.

After all, what have you got to lose? Choose differently. And discover more.

Be well,
Rachel

The Wrangle

I live in Central North Carolina. Hurricane Florence waltzes her way toward us right now. But I feel like she and I are in more of a tango. Finally. Prior to this morning, it was more of a street fight. And I was getting my butt kicked.

I’ve spent the prior 24 hours feeling a wound up washcloth of a belly, a twisted heart, and a perplexus of a mind. I wanted the “right” answer so badly. The right answer of how to protect my family.

The right answer of how to protect my family from what felt like the impending grief of devastation. A flavor I have come to know in my own way. That place shut me down from rational decision making and had me parked in the emotion of “I KNOW what grief feels like. I am going to think my way out of it right now. Please may I find the perfect answer. Please oh please.”

Commence wrangling rounds 1 through 20. And exhaustion from repeated defeat.

It is interesting. Usually I can communicate feel through my words. But I can’t articulate for you the intensity of the pleading, the internal kneeling, the contorting for safety that I was doing in body, mind and soul for that single right answer.

Yet I was missing something big. With my considerations and thought meanderings, I’d covered it all. And within my options, there wasn’t a single right answer. But – as my very wise friend and colleague pointed out to me – there was also no wrong answer.

And so I made my choice. I saw what my spinning was after. And in my way, I chose around that place.

In coming to action – from a place of not knowing what I’m even really trying to avoid – I was able to see the path that got me here. Community in a big way. Talking to those with more wisdom than I. Listening to those who could see more. Hearing the quiet lilt or the bemusement in neighbors decades older than me who have weathered so many storms both externally and internally. Watching the frantic-ness inside of me and in those around me. Seeing how it does not mirror at all the beauty that resides outside right now. A deep disconnect between that which exists inside of me in terms of a storm already at work and that which sits in front of me in feel of warm sun, thick heat, cicadas consistently buzzing, and my cats as lazy as ever.

I am not naive. I will continue to watch carefully and use the resources at my disposal. Most importantly, I will continue to take the next logical step. For my own Being and for those whom I love and hold dear.

And I will allow myself to rest a step back from it all deep within. To continue to witness the unbelievable majesty of nature in her effort at balance through air, water, ether, and earth. Using what she has available to her to not intentionally cause destruction but to do what she knows how to do. Balance in her way.

May we all be safe. May we all be well. May we embrace each other as we both watch and take action in the tango with nature.

Step wisely. Step thoughtfully. Step with love for yourself and one another in this peak of a plot line.

Take good care,
Rachel

Surfing

Moments before the picture above, Nora looked over at me and saw tears streaming down my face. I was connecting to the loss of my nephew and the deep grief of the weeks and months directly after his death. A wave crashed over me and I did not fight back the water. What’s the point of fighting a wave? Who is actually always going to win in the end?

Nature. The wave. Always wins.

“Mama, why are you closing your eyes?”

“It makes it easier for me to feel sometimes, Nora. When I have something that I want to be brave about feeling, if I close my eyes, it isn’t as scary for me to feel the big thing inside.”

A long pause while she ponders and prods her homemade slime.

“Mama, when I close my eyes on the swing when I’m going, it’s scary. I’m like AGHHH!!! Right, Mom?”

I nod. And she continues, “But when I stop, if i close my eyes, it’s not as scary any more.”

Feeling intense emotions and the accompanying physical sensations can be ever so scary. And as 3 year old Nora said to me, feeling those sensations when life is churning and burning can be simply too much. Taking in 5 senses worth of information from the external world at the same time you’re feeling Big Feels can be unparalleled in the challenge. The go-to is to shove down the feeling and to walk away from it. Hopeful it will never return.

But nature always wins. Always.

And so alternatively, when the swing stops – as when the day pauses either by conscious choice or natural cadence – it is easier to close your eyes and simply Be in the Big of the Feeling.

Creating the space, the quiet, the pauses both short and extended in order to feel what is hard to feel. In order to sink in with bravery and courage to the quiet of you. Your shadows, your light and all the gradations of reflection in between. If you allow yourself to Be in those spaces of pure feeling, something magical happens.

Those hard feelings and those overwhelming sensations get heard. They get seen. They get honored as worthy of part of the infinite tapestry that is You.

Like Nora and I in the photo above, once you find a safe place to feel what you are feeling – or what lapped at your toes earlier in the day – allow it to roll. Let the tide tumble. Let the winds howl inside of you. Let the squall run across the ocean. You can do this on your own in the quiet when the swing stops moving. You can perhaps do this as you sit beside your three year old daughter and show her you can be with her at the same time You are with Yourself. Tears, tight chest, and echoes of the deepest of losses. Interwoven big feels with smaller feels of smiles, giggles and lilts at her fiery antics.

And you laugh through the tears of sorrow with your 3 year old because you are so damn grateful to be here at all. With her. Feeling this rich and fertile loss and longing.

If you can let the tears roll when the tears want to stream and if you can let the anger burn inside when the anger wants to flame, then you may discover something miraculous. If you feel when it is safe to feel, you free up internal real estate for the rest of the glorious symphony of life. The orchestral section of sorrow and mourning plays it’s beautiful and somber notes. And you feel them. And they echo in the chambers of your body. And they moan in the recesses of your heart. And they are necessary and integral and perfectly crafted notes of your Being.

Hours roll on. More moments occur.

And later in the day – because internal real estate of grief has been given voice and feeling and simply honoring of it’s request to be Seen – you can sit with a dearest of friends to embrace her newborn daughter. You can feel butterflies of happiness lilting in your chest. You can lose the connection to your feet for this time and all is light. The sunshine is beyond bright and it dances on your soul.

You can receive news that a dear friend’s MRI results are beyond good. The best. And you can spill over with inner joy. It seeps through every open pore and into the air around you. Every overflow is filled with gratitude. You have space for that fill-up and spillover and you can feel it run down your heart and your skin into a well of goodness and hope.

And in that moment, you are beyond grateful. Because if you didn’t have the opportunity and the courage to feel the Hard in the moment that it tsunamined over you in the morning, and to rest into that space and embrace it with all of your love for the depth and perspective it was offering you, you would already be full up with your own loss and longing. You would utterly miss the evening’s arrival with the earth shattering juxtaposition of happiness and joy sliding in under you like an ice rink of upward shining sunlight.

If you hadn’t leaned into the hard, you would have missed the healing.

Ride the wave. The wave is good. The wave is Now. The wave is Your essence of humanity.

Take good care,
Rachel

Fire Water

In my younger years prior to full prefrontal cortex development, there was this awful liquor we drank called After Shock. It was cinnamon flavored and felt like fire solidified into ice as it burned down the soft tissue of your esophagus. Good times, right? Lucky-to-emerge times is more like it.

I haven’t had a shot of After Shock in a really long time. Primarily because it was just disgusting. And secondly because After Shock actually existed within me that entire time. Especially in this month of August in this place of North Carolina, those same sensations are ever present for me to experience. And with no hangover in these years of a bit more discernment.

The suffering we feel day in and day out of moments both large and small reflect what is not to our “liking” in our lives. What we do have but we don’t want, what we don’t have but we do want, what we do have but will be going away soon. We wrap around the likes and dislikes and land ourselves in a tangle akin to the time my college roommate tried to speed dry her newly dyed yarn ball in the dryer.

Granted it was fun to be together as we unwound that ridiculous tangle.

I am in a tangle in this moment. Before I continue, let me be clear that I trust myself to be in this tangle so the why isn’t that important for our interface here. I trust myself because me, myself and I have a darn good track record at this point of being in a tangle and of walking out the other side with more of Me to bring along. I have an incredible team of people to turn to in my life. I have five functioning senses to bring me back to the moment. And I have a natural ability to Feel deeply.

Yet, there is a flip side to that natural ability.

When we can Feel deeply we may have a tendency to try to escape the “dislikes” in our lives. The uncomfortable, the fiery, the prickly, the sharp, the hard, the tight. You get the drift. But if we try to escape all of that, we’re missing the capital “P” Point.

The Point is that we land here at all exploring this earth, one another and all the flavors that come along with it. The Point is that we feel what we feel with bravery and courage. The Point is that we step into community in the hard stuff AND know that we will end up feeling more deeply and more pungently for the simple reason that we are now in a state of compassion for more than just ourselves. (That ‘pungently’ was going to be ‘poignantly’ but I like what landed so we’re going with it.)

For the past two weeks of deep summer, fire water has coarsed through my veins. In my yoga nidra practice, I can feel the throbbing of blood thick with southern weight – molten lava beneath my skin. In that pure stillness, it is intense to feel in the way that I imagine bungee jumping or skydiving to be.

As uncomfortable as it is to feel what is present, there is some part of me that is intrigued by my innate power that is the very source of these sensations.

Just as a mother’s body creates the contractions of labor that deliver her child, so does my very humanness create these sensations to match Me perfectly in a given moment. The sensations match MY intensity, MY power of thought, MY power of grief, MY power of love.

That is an arrestingly beautiful thing. All this feeling of my own deep and infinite creation. All this comfort and discomfort of my own sculptor’s hands. I use what I have learned in this life to sit down in the flames and fall in love with myself over and over again. The hot seat can be intense. But I have a secret to tell you… intensity is the name of my game.

And so I make space to feel the anger. I lessen the inputs around me – less people, less moving pieces, less stimuli in general – and I hang out with glorious, powerful, fiery Me. This is my Grace right now. The ability and desire to Be with Me in this Life in this Day.

Nothing – absolutely nothing – you feel is wrong. It is all just glorious, powerful, fiery You. Make space to feel You and not hide from You. You are stunning in your Grace.

We are stunning in our Grace.

Take good care,
Rachel

 

Flip It

See the lovely photo of snuggles and love up above? Totally symbolic of human connection and joy, yes? Well, it is for me at least.

And there is more.

A few weeks back, I was cleaning out the van post my return from Calgary. I pulled a few things out of the back of a seat pocket and found this magazine clipping.

“Aww… that’s adorable!” I chirped to myself. “One of my kiddos cut this out for a collage at camp. They must really value the connection with us! Kiddo and parent loving one another. And appreciating diversity too! Hooray! We’re doing GREAT at this parenting thing.” Granted not every single word of this went through my head but it was the gist of the feeling I got in seeing it… as well as the assumptions that I made about the meaning behind it.

And in this moment of parenting bliss, I happened to flip the image over:

My brain snagged like the tape of a cassette.

“Okay, so that’s different than what I thought this was.”

And then a smile of seeing more and being busted out (once again) of my “I know all” box.

Whichever kiddo this was saw something totally different than I did. Maybe my kid saw a furry puppy and thought “cuddly.” Maybe she saw the dog and thought “I want that.” Maybe he saw the eyes and included the dog on his “things I never want to meet in a dark alley” collage. I can make a bunch of guesses as to what attracted said Manetti child to this image but I don’t really know. It is the mystery and beauty of them being them in that moment. And my attraction to the opposite side of the image is the mystery and beauty of me being me in this moment.

Same shape, same cut out, entirely different foci. Kiddo saw what he or she needed to. And I saw what I needed to.

And so it goes in this life. Each of us seeing the moment as we alone see it. Adding our own meaning, our own judgments, our own criticisms. And perhaps spending time in the very same moment with someone who sees a fully different picture in the same frame. Sharing time and space but each creating our own stories.

Hanging out together as we create our stories for this life.

Curious and yet oh so beautiful, isn’t it? Over seven billion people and over seven billion truths depending upon how a person’s context leads their attention. And to have the invitation to step back and see another’s meaning of a moment, well, that is a bit magical in how it can expand our ability to connect, love and learn.

There is always more to see. Always.

Take good care,
Rachel

Choose Differently

In this connection with you, I could slice and dice and turn the prism of a moment of shame and self-criticism in my typical few directions before landing in softness. Yet, the heat, sharpness and intensity of summer reside not only outside but also inside the container of the body. These qualities of summer exacerbate the tendency I have to dissect, inspect and reorganize whatever discomfort I am in.

But I am full up with input and that pattern is not serving me in this moment.

Said directly: I’m sick of slicing and dicing right now.

When I am with a private client or a small group of students looking at the body, we don’t just consider the parts in isolation. We explore the parts in relation to the whole. Yesterday, one of my clients and I played with how some of her PT movements post knee surgery weren’t quite feeling “right.” In our explorations, we discovered she was bracing in her jaw and rib cage – which hampered her intention for strengthening the supporting musculature of the knee. After all, if the rib cage and jaw are locking and loading to do her exercises, why would her hip or inner line have to do much of anything? I love the moment when my clients – or myself in my own movement practice – see how much power they have to move toward their intention. And that power emerges when they quiet the current patterns and uncover previously untapped potential.

I wonder where I am going with this… Let’s walk on and find out.

If my pattern is to slice and dice my discomfort in order to come around to seeing myself as more whole, then what if I play with options outside of this pattern?

Option 1: I could slice and dice where I feel comfort / joy / wholeness to see myself as more broken. This is kind of the opposite of what I normally do. My left eyebrow lifted at that and left side of my mouth tightened up. It doesn’t exactly seem like it matches my intention right now.

What exactly is my intention here? Good question, Rachel. My intention is to lighten the full-up feeling. Okay, then with that in mind, let’s consider another option.>

Option 2: I could see any current full-up discomfort objectively and add no judgments based upon past experiences or future expectations. And so I say to myself objectively, “Right now, I feel full-up. And this week has many moving pieces and transactions in it.” Hard stop and breathe.

Breathe some more.

I feel space here. Immense space surrounding my head. The room actually feels like the walls have expanded outward by several feet. My eyes go beyond the computer screen to look out the kitchen window and up to the trembling leaves. I remember my 5 year old daughter’s softness back in the spring as nature came alive once more, “Mama, the leaves are dancing.”

Or the same daughter on a different day sitting on the front porch and abruptly looking up at the top of the trees as the branches swelled in powerful wind driven rushes against each other, “Mama, the trees sound like the ocean.”

Or my son freezing as the van door opened late one evening and the night greeted his spinning, buzzing, jack rabbiting 8 year old self. His eyes were intent as he looked into the space of nothing in the back of the garage but the radar of his ears opened behind him toward the driveway and the big big world, “Mama, it’s like the cicadas are shhhh’ing me.”

Ah. Option two has met my intention in a circuitously beautiful way. Less full up now. Less thickness. More curves to my inner belly, less sharp edges. Fuller breath and more complete exhale without any force.

Option two dropped me at the station of our shared super power, Presence. This moment.

Slicing and dicing, analyzing and examining, rotating and perplexing to see a new window into my 360 – they all fulfill a pattern of a desire I have to see and understand more. And sometimes that’s really good stuff for me. And sometimes it’s not good stuff for me.

Curiously enough, even without the slicing and dicing, I can come to the place that the slicing and dicing eventually delivers me. Presence. Here and now. These feet upon the floor. This softening brow. This set of shoulders softly rolling forward into Is.

If the slicing and dicing brings me closer to feeling when I can’t get there from my current state, I am ever so grateful. Because as I feel more, I feel MORE. More joy, more elation, more confusion, more sadness, ever more more more. And it is all beautiful because it is all this amazing Life.

Feeling more is just more hanging out.

It has been cloudy as I’ve written these words over the past 10 minutes but the sun just emerged in the left side of my picture window. New light. New shadows. New gradations between right and wrong, yes and no, black and white. A new moment to Be.

Take good care,
Rachel