Tag Archive | Anxiety

Nature’s Pharmaceutical: Walk in the Woods

The trees have a story and so do IIMG_3106
I listen to their secrets
and they listen to mine
More wood nymph than mermaid
this East Coast girl
who spends her time in the corporate world

I head out into nature with my coziest sweatshirt and healing crystals in my bra. As I walk the familiar paths at the Fairfield Audubon Society, deeper into the woods, I expect all stress to wash away. I hope to breathe deeply and feel my shoulders relax. Instead, I feel the anxiety fully, the tightness in my solar plexus. Because finally, I allow myself to feel, all of it. Sadness also came with me, I don’t know why. Something old, perhaps, that I pushed away. Safe there, with the trees. They will keep my secrets.

I have always felt safer under cover of forest than in the vast open spaces. As a child, I loved playing in the woods behind our house, splashing in the streams. Perhaps I was a wood nymph in another life, a dryad or, maybe a fairy. In the stress and fast pace of the adult world, I too often forget the healing power of the trees, the peace I can find there.

So I walked, choosing the longer path, leading away from the people, searching for solace. I let go of the chatter in my mind, a walking meditation. I appreciate the beauty of the nature around me. Some destruction and some new growth. I came to a place where boards form the path across a stream and some uncertain ground – we’re in the wetlands here – and I wonder how steady it is. I check in with my healing knee and I see the fear, the fear of falling. And I wonder why I have always had this fear, when I know my guardian angels work over time. I do the stupidest things and have never broken a bone or seriously hurt myself, even though I probably should have.

Today, this is what anxiety looks like. I consider turning back, but I keep going. My knee is strong. So are the boards. I can trust life again.

I’m here in the woods because the energy healer told me to be here. The electronics and noise of my every day world adds to the anxiety. I’m here because I’ve gotten so used to being anxious it feels normal to me, but it’s keeping me stuck. I’m here in the woods because, after a session with an energy healer, I finally feel relief, some peace and quiet from the mean girl anxiety voices in my head 24/7 telling me I’m not good enough. The voices are gone and I’m ready to move forward. I’m here in the woods because the healing has just begun and there is energy to move.

I’m walking this path in the woods because there’s this magical, bright, sparkly light who is ready to come out. She’s been listening to the voices that tell her she’s not good enough and now she’s telling them to shut the fuck up. I’m here, talking about anxiety, even though it scares the shit out of me, because we’ve been quiet and scared and alone long enough.

I’m here, telling my story, because we’re all on this journey together. The world needs our light. I walk the path before you, and I walk the path beside you.

The trees have a story and so do I.

Advertisements

Wake up, Wild Child

We all have a wildness in us, a beast wanting to break free. This is our true nature, our very core. This wildness does not care about fitting in or what the neighbors think. She doesn’t care about etiquette or rules. She doesn’t need to get along. She lives by the rules of her own heart: survival, compassion, love. She is a fierce protector, a sensual goddess, mother, lover, creator of life. Her moods sway with the tide. She is one with the earth and the sea, the sun and the moon, the stars in the sky.

StrengthOur inner wild woman believes in fairies and elves, unicorns and happy endings. She believes that love will always find a way. She is both psychic and scientist, adventurer and dreamer.

She is light and darkness, human and divine. She is everything we are and everything we can be.

How often do we keep her locked away? She is not to come out in public. She has been shushed and prettied up, seen and not heard. She has been taught to keep herself small, make room for others, don’t get too big for your britches. That’s not real, nobody cares, be a good girl, now.

She learned to be quiet, to make herself invisible. She conformed to expectations and put her wild self to sleep.

You can still see the wildness in her eyes that sparkle when she’s happy. When she dances in joy. When she is in love. When she feels safe, she’ll let her wildness play, she sparkles in the sunlight.

Wake up wild child! The world is calling you now. We need your wisdom, we need your sparkle.

We know you’re scared, you must trust us now. It is your time. You’ve been hushed and shushed and told you’re not enough, but it’s time you know the truth.

You are perfect in your wildness. You are enough, right now, exactly as you are. You have everything you need. It’s time to come out now, bring your light into the darkness. We need all of you.

And her heart filled with love as she shed all pretense. She brushed off expectation, washed off the dull exterior of what she thought was normal, and she sparkled. She raised her voice and sang to the world the truth that she knew. She let her light shine as big as it was, a beacon to those who had lost all hope. She embraced her darkness and let her moods shift with the moon and the tides. She is one with the wildness inside her, she lives by the rules of her own heart, she follows the light of her soul.

She is woman, brave and true. She is you.

Surrender

Until your knees hit the floor you’re just playing at life, and on some level you’re scared because you know you’re just playing. The moment of surrender is not when life is over, it’s when it begins. ~Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

One warm, sunny weekend in early September, 2013, I found myself in my car, alone, headed for Asheville, North Carolina. I had a stack of CDs, my phone, a few changes of clothes, and a full tank of gas. I also had with me a full complement of amino acid and magnesium supplements that were going to replace the antidepressant and Xanax I’d been taking for the past five years. I left the prescriptions at home. At about hour six of the 14 hour drive, I started to cry. What the FUCK was I doing? I was driving 14 hours, alone, for a weekend, alone, in a place I knew little about that I had chosen randomly (or intuitively). And I would have another 14 hour drive back home. It was one of those really deep cries that turned into a prayer, simple and raw: I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing and I’m going to need your help.

Knees hit the floor.

I’d been through a lot the couple of years previous and was considering moving to another state, running away, really. I had been on an unfamiliar path. I had dreams for the future but had no idea how to get there. So I took off for a weekend with excitement which turned quickly into fear. Tears. Surrender. I ended up having a great weekend. Spending time with myself, getting to know myself. There would be, and will be, more tears, more surrender, and more joy as my path unfolds.

Surrender is one of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned on my path and something I’ve learned to do even when life isn’t so bad.

Surrender presupposes a belief in a higher power, who I’ll refer to as God. The creator, the divine energy that connects everyone and everything, with whom we are are all one. A higher power that can make things happen. An energy that is pure love.

Surrender is completely giving up control over the circumstances and trusting in a force more powerful that we are to make things happen, to fix the problem, to help us realize our dreams.

Surrender is complete faith that somehow, we don’t know how, but somehow things are going to work out for the better.

Surrender is the acknowledgement, without judgment, that this problem is bigger than we are, knowing that if we could fix it by ourselves we surely would have already, so please help me, God.

Surrender is not sitting on the couch doing nothing and waiting for life to happen, surrender is taking one step and trusting that we are going to be shown the next step. And the next.

This is more than prayer. If we’re honest with ourselves, we pray a lot more than we actually surrender. We go through the motions with good intention, but we like to control things most of the time and are not good at surrendering the details to someone else. It can take a real shit storm to get us actually down on our knees in surrender. Crying in the shower. Bawling in the parking lot of the rest area. Surrender isn’t poetic and it isn’t polite. The prayer of surrender usually goes something like: “I’ve really fucked this up, please help me.”

There’s real beauty in surrendering. Finding that peaceful place withing ourselves, finding our true strength. We connect with our higher selves, we find our connection with our Creator and with all of creation. This is Love.

What actually happens when we truly surrender is God really does take over. I’m talking magic, miracles, and synchronicity. You’re at peace. You don’t have to worry about this anymore, someone way smarter is taking over. Phew. You have a chance conversation with the neighbor you never talk to and the next thing you know, you’re in a job interview with his ex-wife’s brother’s best friend’s therapist’s daughter. You go to the mailbox and there’s a refund check you weren’t expecting. You win an all expense paid vacation. Really good ideas pop into your head. Somebody sees your artwork hanging on your mother’s wall and wants to buy it. A song inspires you to call somebody who leads you in a new direction. A conversation leads you to start your own business. You’re meeting the exact people you need to meet. You’re in the right place at the right time. Magic, miracles, and synchronicity.

This is not the first nor the last time you will surrender. You will go about your life and hit another rough patch and end up on your knees again. It’s called living. Eventually you’ll start to figure out that all the good stuff starts to happen when your knees hit the floor. You’re getting help and this is starting to feel good. Even fun.

When you’re living your life to the fullest, your knees need never leave the floor. You’re not only surrendering, you’re also in deep gratitude for the many blessings in your life.

You don’t have to wait for the shit to hit the fan to get down on your knees. You have dreams and desires, plans and goals. But when you don’t know how to get there, you let go of the dream. Or you get so attached to your plans of how you’re going to get there that you have no flexibility when life (or God) steps in and throws a wrench in the plans. We leave no room for magic. Sometimes God has a better plan, so when she throws a wrench in yours, it’s time to sit up and take notice. Or get down on your knees.

We limit ourselves when we attach rigidly to our plans. Sometimes you have to move forward without a plan. Stop, breathe, focus on your heart. What is your dream, your purpose, your passion? Feel it? Does it still feel good? Good. Now, how does this next step feel? If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it. Listen. Is a different idea trying to get your attention? Take a break, go for a walk, get away for the weekend. Does something light up for you? Trust it. Start moving, but be flexible. Allow changes to your plan. Make room for magic.

Many of us learn about surrendering in our every day lives after our knees hit the floor in some dramatic way. Perhaps that’s the purpose of that moment, to get our attention. Once you’re down there, stay on your knees. Surrender. Gratitude. How is life working for you now?

Mirror, Mirror: Loving my darkness

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall…”

The mirror does not lie. And in the mirror, we can see the beauty and we can see the warts. The light and the darkness. As we are our own worst critics, it is not easy for many of us to look in the mirror and truly love ourselves. It is, in fact, transformative to look in the mirror and say “I love you” to the reflection. Even more so to gaze at my reflection for several minutes, affirming that I love and accept myself exactly as I am. Warts and all.

I’ve been doing this work for several weeks, after having some energy work done when I was feeling depressed and blocked. And it has been transforming and I’ve been feeling great. But progress is still slow and I’m feeling impatient.

xvthedevilAs a tarot reader/intuitive, I read for myself regularly for guidance as well as a way of continuing my study of the tarot. The last few days, number 15, The Devil, has come up a several times. One of the scarier cards in the deck. In some decks it has other names, such as “Temptation,” “Chains,” or, my favorite, “The Big Bad Wolf.” When a card keeps appearing, I sit up and take notice, look for the message, an important lesson. The Devil might point to an addiction or addictive patterns of behavior, it may advise us not to be chained to our fears. It speaks of a darkness in hiding. D-e-v-i-l the opposite of l-i-v-e-d. In the Inner Child Cards by Isha Lerner and Mark Lerner, the 15th card is “The Big Bad Wolf” and depicts a bleak, dark, scary pathway, with a wolf in hiding. The path leads to the tower bathed in the light of the moon. This is the darkness inside of ourselves. The shadow that we don’t want to see.

The message from The Devil card is that it’s time to shine your light into the darkness. It’s time to look at your shadow self and love that part of you. You’ve looked in the mirror and seen the beauty there. You’ve grown in self love. Your imperfections, your shadow, the darkness in you, your wounds, the places where you are broken need your love and acceptance the most. When you deny your darkness, it grows in fear. When you shine your light on your darkness, you heal the broken parts of yourself and transmute it into light.

It’s time to look at the parts of myself that I don’t want to see. It’s time to SEE and LOVE my darkness. Eek. I don’t know. It’s pretty scary down there. Is my light enough?

Fear. Funny, I’ve also been seeing a lot about facing your fear, feeling it and going forward anyway. I know I’m not alone here. I’ve been working on this for a while. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Stepping out of my comfort zone. The past few years, it seems like I’m doing this all the time, going outside my comfort zone, expanding my comfort zone, not being chained to a life not being lived.

But for all that work, I was feeling stuck, frustrated, and depressed. My dreams and desires just out of reach. I’ve come so far, and everything I’m working for just a breath away. But that breath might be a million miles because I still couldn’t reach it.

I knew in my heart what was blocking me, but this one was big, The Big Bad Wolf.

Writing this now feels like I’m walking the bleak and scary landscape of fear. I’ve walked this path alone and now I’m taking you with me. Into the shadows.

Deep in the darkness, I find the part of myself that decided a long time ago that I would do this thing called life alone. Because, well, fear. Because that’s what strong people do. Because, control issues. Because, what if I’m not really worthy of THAT much love? I built a wall and subconsciously kept people out, at the same time, I longed to not be alone.

Deep in the darkness, I find the anxiety that has controlled my life. The anxiety that put up a wall around my heart. The anxiety that told me I was unworthy.

I honestly don’t know how far back my anxiety goes. I never acknowledged it or talked about it until I was 40. I’m sure I can find instances of illness or unexplainable behavior that may have been panic attacks. But the thing I don’t remember being without are the constant critics, the mean girl voices that come with anxiety. I lived a good part of my life with a constant voice in my head telling me I’m wrong, I’m bad, nobody likes me, I’ve done something terrible (I have no idea what) and everybody is going to find out. It’s called anxiety and is caused by a chemical imbalance.

I thought this was normal until I sought help for depression when I was 40 and was prescribed an SSRI anti-depressant that was mostly for anxiety. I was told it could take weeks for the drug to take effect. The very first day, the mean girl voices went away and I felt free and happy. I didn’t stop talking for three months, I had a lot to say. Things calmed down after that, but I set a number of things in motion that were the starting point for amazing transformations (and some amazing mistakes) in my life. After a few years, I weaned myself off the medication and committed myself to a diet and supplements that would keep my chemistry in balance and keep the mean girl voices away.

The real work began. Here’s the deal, the medication made me feel good for awhile, but ultimately, I was not working on my shit and I would have eventually needed more medication. My body, my inner guidance, and my drive to fulfill my purpose in the world told me strongly it was time to get off the medication and work on my shit for real. I got the mean girl voices under control, but they had already wreaked havoc with my underlying belief system and my confidence.

My work on myself and my work in the world has been about self love, about looking in the mirror and seeing the beauty all of us have within us. My work on myself an my work in the world has been about seeing ourselves as beautiful, as every one of us is. My focus has been on body image, but the work needs to go deeper than that.

Loving and accepting ourselves exactly as we are is not just body image. This is going deep into the dark places and loving ourselves there. It’s about accepting the shadow. It’s about the knowledge that we deserve love NOW. We are worth as we are. We don’t have to be perfect to be worthy of love and abundance and realizing all of our deepest desires. We are human and beautiful in our imperfection.

I’m again looking in the mirror every day, now for five long minutes, affirming my love for myself exactly as I am, the light and the dark. I had some energy work done, which got me started and lifted the depression. I saw hope again, the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m tearing down the wall that I built around my heart, brick by brick. The magic is happening and it seems so effortless in the moment.

Some days, I’m still walking in the dark, in fear of the Big Bad Wolf. But I see the stars and the big bright moon. And I’m no longer walking alone.